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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


  • 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


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