Bunny Chow: South Africa’s Sweet-Sounding Dish Has A Not-So-Sweet Past

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(TIML FOODS) Indian Oven’s bunny chow features shrimp with a side of tomatoes and cucumbers. The restaurant is located in Hout Bay, a suburb of Cape Town.

It’s an Indian dish you’re unlikely to find in India.

Bunny chow is essentially a kind of bread bowl. You take a loaf of white bread, hollow out the middle and fill it with a curry, either vegetarian beans or some type of meat.

But not rabbit. The name “bunny” comes from the corruption of an Indian term referring to merchants. The dish has its origins in Durban, South Africa’s third-largest city.

“It’s not known by Indian communities outside of South Africa,” says Rajend Mesthrie, a linguist at the University of Cape Town who has looked into its history.

There are only a handful of places in the U.S. where you can order bunny chow. It’s a decades-old dish that remains best known in its hometown.

But bunny chow is classic fusion cuisine, in the sense that it resulted in the meeting of two disparate cultures — if not necessarily a happy meeting.

There are many stories about how bunny chow originated, but the one cited most often describes it as a totally portable dish served up to black people under apartheid, South Africa’s 20th century system of racial separation.

Indians started coming to South Africa in large numbers during the 19th century. At first, starting in the 1860s, Indians were brought as indentured servants to work in the sugar cane fields around Durban. They were followed soon after by “passenger Indians,” so-called because they paid their own way, coming to work as artisans or merchants. Very Interesting…sound off below!!

 

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