Chow down in Durban town…
The birth of the bunny chow is widely disputed, and is said to originate from two possible scenarios. One thing is for sure, however, and it is that the friendly and ever warm city of Durban is the point of origin of this delicious half loaf.
Durban is home to the country’s largest Indian community, dating back to when migrant workers from India were brought to South Africa to work the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal, then known as Port Natal.
The first tale regarding the birth of the bunny chow centres on how migrant workers transported their lunch to the field. The hollowed out, half loaf of bread was a cheap and accessible way to carry their vegetarian curries, with the addition of meat fillings coming later on.
The next widely believed fable is that the bunny chow come about in the 1940’s Apartheid South Africa, from an eatery on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets in the centre of Durban. The original Indian meal consisted of just roti and beans, but as Africans were not allowed to enter the premises, this local vendor, known as Bhanya, created a side hatch with access to the pavement. Through this hatch these ‘take-aways’ were sold, but due to the rotis falling apart when being served, Bhanya developed the innovative idea of selling his curry packed inside a hollowed out half or quarter loaf of bread. Bhanya’s Chow proved to be popular and soon became known as the “bunny chow”.
Which ever tale you find more believable, Durban will always be the home of the bunny chow. These local spots have become institutions in their own right, and are said to sell the best in town…
- Johnny’s Roti / Sunrise Chip ‘n Ranch – Sparks Road, Overport
- Gounden’s – 520 Umbilo Rd & Deodar Avenue, Glennwood
- Hollywood Bets – 126 Intersite Avenue, Umgeni Business Park
- Govendor’s Curry Kitchen – 5 Eaton Rd, Durban, 4013