Bunny Chow

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imageDid you know that the South African city of Durban is home to more people of Indian descent than any other city outside of India? Then you won’t be surprised to hear that curry plays a big part in South Africa’s culinary history. As in the UK where the Anglo-Indian relationship has given rise to popular dishes such as chicken tikka masala, South Africa too has developed its own unique spin on the Indian curry. The most famous of these dishes is undoubtedly the bunny chow.

The origins of this curiously named dish are open to debate but what I can assure you that no fluffy bunnies are harmed in the making of this South African street food. Rather it’s a veg/chicken/meat curry served in a hollowed out loaf of bread. The bunny chow is thought to have evolved as a convenient way for workers to carry their lunch.  The bunny chow comes in quarter, half and full loaves and is also referred to as a kota or sephatlo in many South African townships.

It’s best made in advance and refrigerated overnight before scooping into the bunny. As we all know curry tastes better the next day but it also helps the sauce to become nice and thick – you are looking for the sauce to coat the meat without too much liquid.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 large red chillies, halved lengthways
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1.5kg / 3 lbs  lamb knuckles or other bone-in stewing cut
  • 4 heaped tbsp flour seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 6 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

To serve:

  • 2 small loaves, halved
  • 2 tomatoes diced and mixed with ¼ diced onion and a splash of cider vinegar
  • Mrs Ball’s chutney (or other fruit based chutney i.e. mango)
  • desiccated coconut
  • fresh coriander / cilantro

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 160 C / 325 F
Heat the oil over a medium heat and sauté the diced onions until soft and translucent
Add the garlic, all the spices and the chilli and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant
Stir in the tomato puree then transfer to a large oven proof dish with a lid
Toss the lamb in the seasoned flour then sear in the pot you cooked the onion in until brown (adding more oil if necessary)
Add to the oven proof dish and mix with the onions and spices until the lamb is well covered
Add the tomatoes, vinegar and enough water to nearly cover the lamb
Transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2 ½ hours until the meat is falling of the bones Refrigerate overnight

To serve:
Using a sharp knife, cut a large circle in the top of your loaves and hollow out the centre
Reheat the curry then scoop into the bunny
Serve with a selection of sambals and cilantro
Enjoy!

Pear, walnut and brie tart

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imageThe flavour combination of these tarts is truly a match made in heaven. Sweet, soft pears, baked with honey and balsamic, with delicious, ripe, creamy brie, all piled on flaky puff pastry and scattered with crunchy walnuts. I serve these with a dollop of creamy, thick créme fraîche on the side.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 sheet store bought frozen puff pastry, thawed (25 cm x 25cm / 10″ x 10″)
2 small pears, peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges each
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
125 g / 4 1/2 oz brie, sliced
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly (not too small pieces)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180° C / 360° F
Combine the pears, butter, honey, sugar and balsamic vinegar
Place in an ovenproof dish and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly soft and golden
Cut the puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares
Place the pastry squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Par-bake for 10 minutes
Top with the pear mixture, brie and walnuts
Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the pastry is puffy and the brie has melted slightly
Serve warm
Enjoy!

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French onion tart

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imageThis is a classic French dish, simple yet very flavourful. Perfect with a green salad and a glass of chilled rosé. You can just imagine being at a little table on a sidewalk café, somewhere in France, on a lovely summer’s day.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
100 g / 3½ oz. bacon or lardons, diced
3 or 4 large onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
230 g / 18 oz. puff pastry, 1 sheet

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F
Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat
Add bacon or lardons and sauté until lightly brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes
Lower heat to medium-low, add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes
Add honey, balsamic vinegar, and thyme
Increase heat to high, boil for 2-3 minutes to reduce, stirring occasionally
Set aside to cool for 30 minutes
Discard thyme
Line a 25 cm /  10″ tart pan with the dough, prick the bottom several times with a fork
With a slotted spoon, scoop onion mixture into the tart shell, leaving excess oil behind
Bake until pastry is crisp and golden, around 20 to 30 minutes.
Bon Appétit!

 


 

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