It’s fascinating to chart the journey a cuisine takes when immigrants find themselves in a foreign land. Indian food has taken on so many different versions in the countries that Indians have found themselves in !!! They have adapted their cuisine to what is available in their environment and lets face it…….almost 90% of the time, they immigrated as slaves or laborers so also what they could eat that would fill them up for a hard days work !!!
Even within the country, regional cuisines have adapted to the environments and proximity to other countries. The further east one goes in India, the more you influences from China and Burma or Myanmar as it is called now! In the Caribbean you will that they have taken on African, Spanish and Portuguese influences. While in the African continent they have taken the influences of whichever nation was conquering them at the time !!! One such dish is the “BUNNY CHOW”, a South African fast food dish. I first came across this dish at Veggie Belly. I was intrigued and put in my file for further research …also to make another day !!!
South African cuisine is a fusion of Indian, European, Malay, Indonesian and also the indigenous African cuisines. Every culture has left their mark…..the bunny chow is one of them. It is credited to the Indian community in Durban who can trace their roots back to the workers brought in to work the sugar plantations at Port Natal. There are many stories as to how it came to being……these are the two I like the most !!! The first one says that it originated when the plantation workers had trouble carrying their roti and subzi to the fields so they hollowed out the white bread that their owners used and carried their vegetable curries in them thus eliminated the need for utensils !!! Another credits its invention to a restaurant called Kapitan’s in Durban that served Indian food to the White population during the Apartheid. They were prohibited from serving food to people of color but they devised a way to sell it out the back………just hollow out a loaf of bread and fill it with your curry and then slap the cover back on, roll in newspaper and sell, with none the wiser !!!
It is named the “Bunny Chow” as the Banias, merchants in India , were the first to start selling them. As I said, interesting !!!!! Ironically, it is hard to find a vegetarian bunny chow these days……why ironic you ask…..well the first bunny chows were filled with vegetables !!!!
Anyway, as I said I found this recipe at Veggie Belly but being myself, I could not leave it alone so I have added a few of my own touches !! I did however stick with ciabatta rolls as I found some freshly baked ones at the local farmers market. I did find it hard to eat, so I would suggest a lots of paper towels as it will spill and you will have food all over yourself but it will not matter as it is delicious !!!
BUNNY CHOW WITH BEANS
2 tbsp. Oil
½tsp. Cumin Seeds
¼tsp. Fennel Seeds
1 medium Red Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. grated Ginger
2-3 cloves Garlic, grated/finely chopped
½cup finely chopped Carrots,
¼cup finely chopped Green Bell Peppers
1 tomato, finely chopped
½tsp. Cumin Powder
1 tsp. Coriander powder
½tbsp. Curry powder ( add more depending on heat )
½tsp. Cayenne , optional
2 tsp. Tomato Paste
½cup canned Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½cup canned Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
½cup canned Black Beans , rinsed and drained
juice of 1 Lime
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish
6 mini Ciabatta rolls or 1-2 whole White Bread Loaves
Now add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 30 secs.
Add the carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes. Sauté till they are soft.
Add in the spice powder along with the salt. Cook for a minute or so.
Add the tomato paste and sauté another minute.
Add the beans and 1-2 cups of water ( depending on how dry you want it). Bring to a boil and simmer 3-4 minutes.
When it has reached the consistency you like , remove from heat. Add the lime juice and ¾thof the cilantro , reserving some for later.
Fill the “bowls” with the curry.
Garnish with reserved cilantro and serve with scooped bread on the side for dipping.
This is off to Fabulous Fusion Food at Deena Kakaya and Feel Good Food at Delicieux and Eat your Veg as a thank you to V, my hubby, who supports me in everything I do even if it takes me years to get there !!