The Durban Curry has become one of South Africa's most loved Street Foods and is the focus element in the world famous 'Bunny Chow'. When we think of comfort food, we think Bunny Chow. A hearty, saucy, messy meal that you can get stuck into with your hands. There are many stories of the mandatory Bunny Chow stop after a night on the town. I know what you're thinking, and no, there's no Rabbit in a Bunny Chow. Bunny Chow, or more commonly referred to as a 'Bunny' or 'Quarter' consists of a hollowed out 1/4 or 1/2 loaf of freshly baked white bread generously filled with Durban Curry and drenched with extra curry gravy, then garnished with Sambal, pickled carrots, chutney and fresh chili.
The depths of flavours in a Durban Curry is something hard to forget. The savory notes of Star Anise and Cardamom carry the flavours of our perfectly blended Garam Masala through the palette for a full sensory experience. You owe it to yourself to try it at least once in your life, seriously. Making a good curry is something that requires some technique. We're here to help you make restaurant style curries right in the comforts of your own kitchen. Once you know how, you'll never go back to jar sauces or takeout. Trust.
Below we will guide you through the tips and tricks we've learnt to creating a curry that will quite literally knock your socks off. If you're confident in your curry cooking abilities and want to get straight into it, scroll down to the end of the blog where you will find our recipe. If you are a beginner chef or just starting on your scrumptious curry journey read ahead for our tips and tricks.
The basis to a good Durban Curry is in the sauce. There is many factors that contribute to a well rounded, thick gravy.
1. SEASONING YOUR PAN
The first thing is getting your pot or pan nice and hot. 'Seasoning' your pan is the process of preheating it before adding any oil or ingredients. This ensures nothing will stick to your pan and your ingredients sear rather than boil. The pan holds its heat this way. Don't be afraid of a hot pan, this is where your flavours really begin to take shape.
2. NEUTRAL OILS
Next, you will want to use a 'neutral' oil. A neutral oil is one that is mild in flavour and won't overpower your dish. We like to use vegetable oil for our curries, as it has a high smoke point so doesn't burn easily. Oils like Olive oil and Coconut oil carry big flavours that can distract from the main focus of your dish. However, if you're making a Coconut Style Curry, using coconut oil will be fine. Using a neutral oil will allow the herbs and spices in your dish to shine through and can be easier to deal with for beginner chefs. It is also important to use enough oil. I used to shy away from using oils in my cooking, but I really understand their role and importance in the kitchen now. Ultimately with oils, find what works for you and what you're comfortable with.
3. BLENDING BASE INGREDIENTS INTO PURÉE
An extra step I take to getting a perfectly smooth and glossy gravy is to blend all my prep ingredients in a food processor. I blend my tomatoes, onion, coriander and ginger into a paste before frying in oil until fragrant, thick and deep in colour. If you don't have a blender, you can skip this step.
4. 'SEALING' YOUR MEAT
Then, I add my meat and 'seal' it in that paste. This slightly cooks the outside of the meat and seals it so the meat stays tender and juicy whilst simmering to perfection.
5. CAREFULLY SELECTED INGREDIENTS
Once you've simmered your paste, sealed your meat and combined everything into a lovely curry base, it's time to further extract all the flavours from your ingredients. Using high quality ingredients will often give you a better result, that's why we use the highest quality herbs and spices. Our Durban Curry blend has all the herbs and spices you will need to make a Bunny Chow recipe, right down to the locally grown curry leaves.
6. BUDGET FRIENDLY MEAT CUTS
However, if you're on a budget or looking for a more affordable cut of meat or veg, cooking low and slow will develop the flavours and still result in an incredibly flavorsome and comforting meal. You can achieve the same result, by harnessing the ingredients you used to their ultimate potential through long extractions. We do this by covering our curry with stock or water and simmering on a low heat for 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. This process is known as 'reducing' and you're left with a shimmering, scrumptious gravy to smother your Bunny in. While making quick curries is still an option with this blend, nothing compares to the depths of flavours of a curry that has been cooked low and slow. You can even do the 'slow cooker' curry method if you're time poor or don't have the patience to tend to a curry for hours. However, for us, it's a labour of love and watching your curry slowly come together over the course of a few hours is something so special. It requires finesse and patience, but the results are oh so worth it! We ALWAYS make a little extra for lunch the next day.
Durban Curry Blend
Bunny Chow Recipe
Photo by Daily Maverick Co Za www.dailymaverick.co.Za
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people
1 Bag of Durban Curry Blend - choose between Mild, Medium, Hot or Extra Hot.
1 Large Diced Onion
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 cm Knob of Ginger
1 Bunch Coriander Stalks & Stems
3 Tbsp oil of choice. We recommend Vegetable oil
1 kg Protein of choice - diced into bite sized pieces. We recommend Lamb
4-6 Potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters. (I usually add a few more because they are just so good)
1 tin of Butter Beans
1 tin of Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper to taste
700ml -1L water or Stock
1 Loaf of fresh White Bread
Wash and prepare all ingredients.
Place a large pot on medium heat.
Once hot, add oil of choice. We recommend Vegetable oil.
Add onion, garlic, ginger & coriander stalks and tin of tomatoes to a blender and blend until smooth. If you don't have a blender, finely dice everything.
Fry until aromatic and deep in colour.
Add 1 bag of Spiced Up & fry until aromatic.
Add protein & seal (frying slightly)
Add stock, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add tin of butter beans
Simmer on low heat for 4-6 hours. Stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. The gravy should be thick and rich in colour and flavour. If it is still watery, keep simmering. If you need more gravy, add more stock/water.
Once gravy is thick and dark, prepare 1 loaf of bread by slicing in quarters and hollowing out the centre, making sure not to pierce through the bottom. Keep the inside of the bread intact to dip in your curry gravy when serving.
A bunny is served with Sambal, pickled carrots, chutney and extra chillies.
To make the Sambal
Finely dice 2 tomatoes, one red onion and a handful of chopped coriander. Add a dash of white or brown vinegar and stir.
To make Pickled Carrots
For the pickled carrots element, simply grate or slice carrots julienned and add to a bowl of brown vinegar before serving. This also prevents them from browning. You can also add 1 teaspoon of sugar if you wish.
There's one chutney that South Africans know and love. It's Mr's Balls Chutney. Available in the international food isle of the supermarket. You can use your favourite one, or simply skip this step altogether.
So there we have it! A Spiced Up Durban Bunny Chow. Please let us know if you try it! We love to see your creations.