Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow is a dish which is uniquely South African, the name even appears in South African English dictionaries. There is some mystery as to where the name originated. Most versions believe that it was initially named after Baniya an Indian name for a trader who initially started filling bean curry into a hollowed out bread loaf which served as a take-away container for the curry.

During the apartheid days whites were not allowed to be seated in non-white restaurants. White Durbanites satisfied their hankering for curry by buying Baniya Chows which - because of their pronunciation - eventually became Bunny Chows.

Nowadays, Bunny chows may be filled with any kind of dry curry and the bread container may range from a third of a normal sandwich loaf or crusty French loaf or even the entire sandwich loaf depending upon how many people you wish to feed. The bread container may be used as is or toasted.

In the recipe given here we use a full sandwich loaf and we complete the cooking of the Bunny Chow in the hollowed out loaf.

Important Recipe Information

Prep time: 15min
Cooking time: 30min
Ready in: 45min
Difficulty: Easy
Serves 2


  • 1 piece fresh root ginger
  • 2 onions
  • 2 medium sized potatoes
  • 150g green beans
  • large handful coriander leaves
  • 1 large white sandwich loaf
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp curry leaves
  • 2 tsp crushed dried chillies
  • 1 470g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground garam masala
  • 2 470g tins kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


Shred the root ginger

Peel and dice the onions and potato

Top and tail the green beans and chop them roughly

chop the coriander leaves

Slice a 3 cm layer horizontally off the top of the sandwich loaf. Place the top to one side. Remove most of the loaf's interior while leaving at least a 1 cm crust on the sides and and bottom of the loaf.

Heat the oil, on high heat, in a large saucepan and then add the curry leaves and reduce the heat to low after about 10 seconds and stir in the shredded root ginger, diced onions and crushed chillies. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes until the onions are really soft. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the onions have a golden tinge.

Add the diced potatoes, recover the pan, and cook for about 12 minutes until the potatoes are almost tender. You will need to remove the lid and give the potatoes a stir every two minutes to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Uncover the pan and add the tomatoes and garam masala, increase the heat and fry briskly until the tomatoes darken in colour and the masala thickens.

Add the green beans stirring to mix, and cook for one minute then add the kidney beans together with the liquid from the tins. Stir well and bring to the boil reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the curry thickens

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Stir the lemon juice, and chopped coriander leaves into the curry mixture. Spoon the hot curried beans into the hollowed out loaf but don't fill it completely. Replace the cut off loaf top pushing down firmly to ensure that it fits tightly and the masala soaks into the loaf.

Wrap the loaf completely in tinfoil taking care to fold over the edges of the tinfoil to seal it. Place the tinfoil wrapped loaf in the oven and bake for 15 minutes

Serve the Bunny Chow immediately, still wrapped in its tinfoil. You can place it on a board on the table unwrap it and remove the top together with the corners which you will use as scoops to eat the curry

Extra information

Unless you're South African you will find Bunny Chow an unusual and quite messy way to eat your curry. But it does make for a fun, very tasty and convenient meal.

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