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Bunny Chow Recipe

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Make this bunny chow recipe today. Durban style chicken curry served in a bread loaf!

Contrary to what some people think, the term bunny chow does not mean the curry is made with rabbit meat. It could be but it has nothing to do with the name. You could make this bunny chow recipe using the protein of your choice. Lamb and beef are also very good. I tried it with wild springbok in it once and it was amazing.

Bunny chow recipe

Delicious and fiery hot curry served in a fresh bread loaf. What’s not to like?

About this bunny chow recipe…

One of my many jobs when I first moved to the UK was working in a ring binder factory in London. The receptionist there was from South Africa and knowing my love for a good curry, she gave me her mother’s ‘famous’ bunny chow recipe.


This is a Durban style curry from the city of Durban, South Africa. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa and it has the largest Indian population in South Africa.

During Apartheid, black people were not allowed to eat Indian food nor dine in Indian food restaurants, so many of the Durban restaurants would hide this Durban style chicken curry and other curries in hallowed out bread loaves and serve them out the back door.

Why is it called bunny chow?

The word ‘bunny’ referred to the Indian merchants at the time and ‘chow’ means food. So roughly speaking, bunny chow means Indian food.

Durban style curry is a must in any bunny chow recipe.

Well almost anyway. As the idea of bunny chow served in bread loaves started in Durban, it makes sense to use a good Durban style curry to fill those loaves.

Many different curries would be great served this way though.

What makes Durban style curries different to Indian curries?

From the recipes I’ve seen and tried, not a whole lot. These curries were developed by Indians that had moved to Durban for work after all.

They didn’t have access to some of the ingredients they would normally use in their curries so they used what was available.

A few things are important, however. The Durban curry that went into this bunny chow recipe is typical of what you should expect. These are spicy curries and usually have a nice film of oil floating on top, making them delicious to soak up with bread. They are also quite dry so the don’t leak through the bread loaves they are served in.

Step by step photographs…

Note: The bunny chow recipe below differs slightly to my step by step photographs as I used par-cooked swede and potatoes. When using raw swede and potatoes, you need to add them before adding the meat. Swede and potatoes take longer to cook through than chicken.

Ingredients for bunny chow

Get all your ingredients together before you start cooking. It’s easier that way.


Infusing the curry leaves, cumin seeds and cinnamon stick in the hot ghee

Heat the ghee in a pan over medium high heat. Then stir in the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves to infuse for 30 seconds.

Adding onions to the pan

Add the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.

Adding the garlic and ginger paste and chillies to the pan

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and the chillies and fry for about 30 seconds, stirring continuously.

Adding tomatoes and ground spices to the pan

Now add the chopped tomatoes and the ground spices and stir them into the fried onion mixture.

Adding chicken to the pan

Add the chicken and stir it around to brown for a couple of minutes.

Adding swede and potatoes to the pan

Now add the par cooked swede and potatoes. Add just enough water to cover and simmer until the swede and potatoes are soft.

Simmering the chicken and vegetables in the sauce

As the sauce simmers, it will reduce and thicken. Try not to add too much water as this curry needs to be quite thick. To finish season with salt to taste.

bunny chow

Scoop out your bread loaves and pour the curry in. The bread you scooped out can be dipped into the curry.


If you like this bunny chow recipe, you might like to try some of these spicy curries…

Chicken Kapitan
Sambal Lala – Spicy Indonesian Clams
The Most Famous Curry House Style Curries!

Yield: 4

Bunny Chow Recipe

Bunny Chow recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 900g (2 lbs) chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 225g (1/2 lb.) swede (rutabaga) diced into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 500ml (2 cups) unsalted chicken stock or water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish, optional


  1. Melt the ghee over medium high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves and move these around in the ghee with your spatula until fragrant. About 30 seconds should do. Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  2. Now add the garlic and ginger paste and stir it around in the onions for about 30 seconds. Then add the ground spices and tomatoes and stir some more to combine.
  3. Add the chunks of potato and swede and then add just enough water to cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the swede is turning soft.
  4. Stir in the chicken and top with more water if needed. You only want to add enough water to almost cover the meat so that it cooks through.
  5. Continue simmering until the chicken is cooked through and you have a thick sauce. Taste it and season with salt to taste.
  6. To serve, sprinkle in the garam masala and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve as it is or bunny chow style in hallowed out bread loaves.


The step by step photos of this bunny chow recipe differ to the written recipe. I used up some par-cooked swede and potatoes I had on hand so added them after the meat. If starting with raw potatoes and swede, they need to be added before the chicken as per the written bunny chow recipe.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 841Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 364mgSodium: 918mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 68g

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I hope you enjoy this bunny chow recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment as I’d love to hear from you.


Saturday 2nd of December 2023

What are your thoughts on putting this in the slow cooker, after building it in the pot?

John D

Thursday 21st of March 2024

@brad, I did just that yesterday. First time making it and it's turned out great.

Dan Toombs

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

I’d guess that would work well. Thanks Dan

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