durban curry

To crush a bunny chow….


Ready to bunny....Yudhika Sujanani on Mela

Ready to bunny….Yudhika Sujanani on Mela – Wardrobe: Sun Goddess


For heaven’s sake, we are not cooking up a bunny rabbit! It’s a  Bunny Chows and almost like traveling back in time…you have to take a trip down memory lane….so how do you describe eating a bunny….is it to eat a bunny?  No!  Everyone has their own terminology…to kill a bunny….to crush a bunny or to slay a bunny but there is never any cutlery!


Indian fast foods have a story behind them….and bunny chow was a way of serving curry in hollowed out bread that didn’t need a plate or cutlery…it was borne in times of hardship, racism and apartheid.  The best ‘Durban fast food’ was the result of those difficult times so yes, while we now live in a generation of born free’s, the bunny chow movement is still going strong!


When I think bunny chow, I think Island Hotel in Isipingo Beach!  My Nan’s sister, Phyllis owned the Island Hotel…well, it was owned by the ‘B V Naidoo’ clan that owned the hotel.  Strangely enough, the Andhrite community still speak of clans!  I do find it quite amusing…what if you just don’t have a clan or fit into one either?  I was never a fan of the chicken bunny….give me a good old bean bunny  or my other bestie, the famous lamb bunny.


We loved visiting Granny Phill!  She was always feed us…making sure that we were over fed and cheerful when we left….and definitely in need of an arvie nap!  She would cook up large batches of curries in massive pots…the cooking gene runs deep in our family!


Granny Phyllis passed away a few years ago…but she has left some beautiful food memories behind….we would smell the curry in the car park of the hotel and we knew that she was around!  She cooked with love and hearty…a larger than life personal with a sense of humor that just made us giggle!


Today, on SABC 2’s Mela, we are celebrating our ‘South African’ess’ on the show!  An iconic South African dish…should we call it a dish?  Dish or not…it’s really a feast!  This is a basic recipe….you can play around with it….for me personally, a Bunny Chow should have some of my favourite Durban flaves…, spicy and it screams out for pickle!  I always have bits of pickle masala left in bottles in the refrigerator….and it’s just too delicious to throw out so we live with the irritation of the oily rings they leave in cupboards, shelves and counter tops!  If you missed today’s food Mela episode, click here to take a look:


There is just something about pickle…it has a magical ability to get out of the bottle! Maybe, it’s just too delicious to stay in a bottle!  So, here is a great way to use of those delicious bits of pickle masala….just pop a few scoops into your curries…it works well with paneer, chicken, seafood and lamb….my favourite is the lamb curry!  I also add some ‘home made fat chips’ to my bunny.  I squish the chips on top of the curry and then spoon more of that pickle masala sauce on top just to make it a super treat!


It’s also one of my favourite fix it ingredients….if the curry just needs a bit of ooooommph, add a scoop and it will remedy a bland curry transforming it into a magical one!

And the ingredients are....

I use lamb shanks or knuckles for this curry…I don’t enjoy the texture or flavour…maybe, I should say lack of flavour in leg of lamb so although it is boneless, it falls short on flavour!  I pop up to our local….the Broadacres Superspar and get Mr Pat to prepare the lamb cuts for me!  He is brilliant and one of those old school ‘blockman’ or butchers!  On his recommendation, I have tried a combination of knuckles and shoulder which I must say resulted in the tastiest curry ever!  Shoulder would be just a little too bony for a bunny.


If a bone finds its way into your bunny chow….just keep going!  Your fingers are going to get messy anyway so it’s not a train smash!


Rules for eating a bunny…just a quick lesson on bunny chow etiquette:


1. No cutlery

2. Only share a bunny with someone you know….it would just be weird to eat a bunny with someone you didn’t!

3. No bunny chows on first dates – save that for maybe the second!

4. Soft drinks work best with a bunny…I mean really, who ever drank red wine or champagne with a bunny…and fruit juice is just as bad!

5. If you love someone, let them have the soft bread on top!  You can also let them have the only potato or the last one!  That’s really saying, ‘I love you…big time!’

6. Need to rinse your fingers after an ‘outdoor’ bunny feast….use the windscreen washer….works perfectly every time!

The Bunny Yudhika SujananiLamb Bunny Chow


Makes 4 quarter bunnies!


4 lamb shanks, each weighing around 350 – 400g

60ml sunflower oil

2 cinnamon sticks

2 bay leaves

1 onion, finely chopped

7,5ml coarse salt

60ml crushed ginger and garlic

45ml red chilli powder

10ml ground coriander

5ml ground cumin

5ml garam masala

2ml turmeric

2 tomatoes, blanched and chopped

30ml pickle masala, optional


Home-made potato chips, to serve



Heat the oil in a large AMC pot. Fry the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

Add the onion, sprinkle in the salt and sauté until the onion is light golden brown.

Add the ginger and garlic, stir for a few seconds, then add the red chilli powder.

Place the lamb shanks into the pot and coat in the spice mix.

Pour 500ml boiled water into the pan, then add coriander, cumin, garam masala and turmeric.

Simmer until the meat is tender and starts to leave the bone – you may need to add more water if necessary.

Remove the shanks from the pan, and place on a chopping board. Leave to cool slightly, and debone the shanks. Discard the bones.

Add the tomatoes to the sauce and once they soften, add the deboned lamb. Stir the pickle masala into the lamb and simmer for a few minutes.

Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.


To serve:


Slice a loaf of bread in half and hollow out the soft inner, leaving the crust intact.

Spoon the lamb into the bread and then top with coriander and freshly made potato chips. Spoon more sauce over the chips and serve.





A Freedom Day Feast

South Africans celebrate Freedom Day on the 27th April.  This year I will be celebrating Freedom Day by feasting with family and friends.  The idea of marking the day with a feast came to me while reading Anna Trapido’s book, Hunger for Freedom.  The book also reminded me of South Africa’s food heritage and particularly Madiba’s love of all things spicy – pickles, breyani and even crab curry are just some of the recipes featured in the book.  There are many stories that are beautifully written – stories that tell us about people, the food they prepared and the meals they shared.

Indian food has long played an important part in the development of a South African food culture.  Our nation’s love of strong spicy flavours and chilli is part of our heritage.  Everywhere you go in South Africa, there is Peri Peri, Garlic, Chutney, Dips and generally robust flavours.  Those of you who have travelled widely will know that this is not always the case in other countries.

Try to find a traditional Durban Curry in India – you can’t!  And don’t think that South African Indians grew up on Rogan Josh, Korma and Vindaloo – we grew up eating curry and rice!  Ever been to an Indian wedding – I just know that you were served breyani, breyani and more breyani cooked in the biggest pot you have ever seen.  My point is that South African food is not based on fancy schmancy recipes, but rather on good wholesome spicy food.

We grew up eating curry cooked in AMC pots every day, but every now and then one of the many great cooks in the neighbourhood would break out with something different for example Malva Pudding, Milk Tart and Bobotie.  It was always like a breath of fresh air, and although we might have immediately gone back to our Durban curries, the memory of those ‘adventures’ has always stayed with me.  I still try to relive those adventures in my cooking, although Durban Curry will always have a special place in my heart.

Here are two of recipes that I will be preparing for my Freedom Day Feast….

Crayfish Curry - perfect for the Freedom Day feast

One of Madiba’s favourites, Crayfish Curry – this is how I make it!


12 medium sized crayfish tails, deveined

50ml sunflower oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

7,5ml coarse salt

Curry leaves, if you have them

15ml freshly crushed garlic

30ml Curry Me Home Red Chilli Powder

6 – 8 ripe tomatoes (I used the 1 and a half tins of Spar Whole Peeled Tomatoes)

5ml Curry Me Home Ground Cumin

10ml Curry Me Home Ground Coriander

2,5ml turmeric

5ml sugar

2 sprigs of curry leaves

Fresh coriander, to garnish

Here’s how:

If you are using fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water.  Remove the skins and chop.  I used the tinned variety for this recipe simply because I was out of ripe tomatoes and the ones in the veggie basket were too firm to make up a good sauce.  Chop the tinned tomatoes and remove the hard centre.

Heat the sunflower oil on medium.  Add the onions, salt and curry leaves.  Saute until the onion is light golden brown before adding the garlic.  Saute the garlic for a few seconds until fragrant and then add the red chilli powder.  Stir for 5 seconds and then add the tomatoes.  Cook until the tomatoes soften and add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and sugar.  Reduce the heat and simmer for until the sauce thickens slightly.  Add the crayfish tails and simmer until the shells change colour.  When the tails curl slightly and the meat is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and add curry leaves.  Add the fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice.

Yudhika’s tips:

I leave the crayfish in the shell – it adds more flavour to the sauce.

A sweet ending...

Yum Yum Malva Pudding

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients2 eggs
200ml castor sugar
250ml cake flour
5ml bicarbonate of soda
2ml salt
20ml butter, melted
100ml full cream milk
50ml fresh cream
15ml apricot jam
5ml vinegarMalva Sauce
250ml cream
125g butter
125ml castor sugar
125ml boiling waterIce cream or custard, to serveHere’s how:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Grease an oven proof dish with non stick spray.  Sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda twice.  Stir the salt into the sifted dry ingredients.  Combine the melted butter, full cream milk and the cream.  Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl.  Use a hand held beater, and beat the eggs while gradually adding the castor sugar.  Continue beating the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the sifted dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and cream mixture.  Lastly add the apricot jam and the vinegar.  Beat well ensuring the mixture is smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and set.

For the sauce:
Combine the cream, butter, castor sugar and boiling water.  Simmer the sauce on low for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens slightly.  Pour the hot sauce over the baked pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven.

To serve:
Serve the malva pudding warm and topped with ice cream or custard.

Yudhika’s tips
Use 150ml full cream milk instead of a combination of full cream milk and fresh cream for the pudding.
Whipped cream can be served with the pudding.