This South African street food is essentially a humble curry served in a bread roll … but don’t be fooled, it’s SO much more than that. It’s one of the region of Durban’s most popular dishes, and for good reason. Bunny chow has a rich cultural backstory in India, and although no one is entirely sure of its exact origin, the story goes that migrant workers had no way of carrying their lunch to work, so they stored it inside a bread roll until it was time to eat.
50ml (3½ tbsp) vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and diced
1 green chilli, seeds and membrane removed, minced
2 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder
2 large tomatoes, diced
½ tsp sugar (optional but it balances the dish well)
400g (14oz) can butter beans, drained and rinsed
Handful of spinach, fresh or frozen (optional but it really elevates the dish)
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander, plus a little to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper,
4 crusty white bread rolls
2 tbsp Tamarind Chutney
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
First prepare the bread rolls. Slice off the tops and reserve them. Carefully, scoop out the soft interior from the rolls* to make a cavity, without going right to the base: you want the buns intact with no holes for the curry to fall through. Place the tops back on the hollowed-out buns and arrange them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, potato and chilli.
Fry gently for about 8 minutes, until the veg have softened and taken on some colour. As the starch comes out of the potatoes they may start to catch on the bottom of the pan. This is fine and will add flavour when you add the passata and water. Just keep stirring so the mixture doesn’t burn.
Next, add in the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a further minute, again stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t burn.
Now it’s time to get your bread rolls into the oven. They need 6–8 minutes to lightly brown and cook through, so you might want to set a timer to ensure they don’t overcook or burn.
Meanwhile, stir the garam masala and Sri Lankan curry powder, diced tomatoes, sugar (if using) and some salt and pepper into the pan with the onions and potatoes. Cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
Next, add in your butter beans, passata and water. Simmer for 5–8 minutes until they are fully heated. Check that your potatoes are soft and, if they need a bit longer, cook for a further 2–3 minutes. This is also the time to add your spinach (if using).
Turn off the heat and add the fresh coriander. Stir to combine.
Take your bread rolls out of the oven and carefully fill them with your lovely veggie mixture.
Drizzle over the tamarind chutney (if using) and sprinkle with more coriander. Pop the lids back on and serve immediately.
*Top tip: Use the scooped out interiors from the bread rolls to make breadcrumbs.