Bunny Chow: How To Make South African Bunny Chow

Bunny chow is a South African fast-food snack consisting of a hollowed-out loaf of white bread filled with curry, sometimes referred to only as a bunny. A small variant of the bunny chow that only uses a quarter loaf of bread is often named a scambane or Kota (“quarter”) by black South Africans. It’s a name it shares with spatlo, a South African dish that originated from the bunny chow.

The bunny chow was produced in Durban, home of a sizeable Indian-origin population. The food’s exact origins are disputed, although its formation dates back to the 1940s. It was also sold during World War II in Gwelo, Rhodesia (now Gweru), and is still available in the nearby town of Kadoma, formerly known as Gatooma.

Bunny chows are standard in the Durban region among Indians and other ethnic groups. Bunny chows are usually filled with curries made from traditional Durban recipes. These include mouton or lamb, chicken, trotters and beans, curry gravy beans and chips, fried sausage, cheese, eggs, and polony. However, the original bunny chow was vegetarian.

South African Bunny Chow

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Snacks
  • Cuisine: South African

The whole preparation and cooking time is 1 hour and 30 minutes. This recipe is suitable for at least 4 servings. 

Photo credit: @eugeneulman / Insatgram.com

South African Bunny Chow Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cm-long piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp South African curry powder
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1kg boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1.5cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 3 large potatoes, cut in cubes the same size as the meat
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 loaves of crusty white bread, unsliced, each cut in half across the middle and most of the inside removed
  • cilantro sprigs, to garnish

South African Bunny Chow Instructions

Step 1: Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté all the spices and the bay leaf until they are sizzling. Next, you can add the onion and cook until translucent, for 5–7 minutes.

Step 2: Add the curry powder and sauté for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, then stir to blend.

Step 3: Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly until you get a consistency similar to a sauce.

Step 4: Add the pork, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves and 300ml of water and bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, occasionally stirring, for 40-50 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Step 5: Add the potatoes, salt to taste, and another 200 ml of water, Continue to simmer until the meat and potatoes are cooked perfectly (about 15 minutes).

Step 6: Stir in the lime juice and the chopped coriander. Spoon into the bread hollows to eat, and garnish with cilantro.

South African Bunny Chow Additional Information

  • Per serving, this recipe has 449 calories, 20 g of total fat, 38 mg of cholesterol, 624 mg of potassium. 
  • It will take 1 hour and 30 minutes to prepare this dish.
  • This recipe will make enough to serve four.
  • Bunny chows are frequently served with a side portion of grated carrot, chili, and salad onion usually referred to as sambals. A main desirable feature of a bunny chow is that it soaks gravy from the curry fillings into the bread walls.

Image source: realfood.tesco.com

About South African Bunny Chow Recipe

Findings of the bunny chow’s roots date as far back as the arrival of Indian migrant workers in South Africa. One account indicates that Indian workers who came to work at the Kwazulu-Natal sugar cane plantations needed a way to bring their lunches to the field; a hollowed-out loaf of bread was a convenient way to transport their vegetarian curries. Fillings based on meat came up later.


The use of a loaf of white bread can also be due to the lack of the standard roti bread as well as its poor structure. Hence the cheap loaf, readily available in local stores, would be a suitable replacement vessel for the curry.

Featured Image: @thatdelhifoodie / Instagram.com, @duncan_de_gouveia / Instagram.com