At the East Midlands Chilli Festival in Newark Nottinghamshire we met up with the NowNow Food Company to eat some of their Bunny Chow. A Bunny Chow is a hollowed out bread bowl commonly filled with curries, which was the case here on the NowNow stall where they had a Durban Chicken Curry, they also had a Bobotie filling too. Although the Bunny Chows originates from Durban in South Africa it was interesting to learn that they are most popular amongst the Indian community. It was said that the scooped-out bread and curry dish was first created at the famous Kapitan’s on Grey street in Durban, as a take-away it was easier to carry away in a bread bowl.
The best story I like to believe was that the Indian Caddies at the Royal Durban Golf Course were unable to get enough time off during lunchtime to be able to travel to Grey Street to get a curry so they would get their friends to go and buy them one and they were brought back to the golf course in the hollowed out loaves as there were no disposable food containers at the time.
Anyhow all we need to know today is that we were about to eat a couple of curries in a hollowed out bread bowl!
The first thing we tried was the Bunny Chow filled with Bobotie (a South African Classic) which is often considered to be the national dish of South Africa. It is typically described as a ‘delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy golden topping‘ that topping looks like potato (but is really baked eggs and cream) and the whole dish a bit like a moussaka. Here at the stall they were just selling the creamy ground beef curry in the hollowed out bunny chow bread bowl. I much preferred it this way to be honest. When I had the version with the baked egg topping in South Africa I found the texture a bit off putting. (But that is just my feelings)
Bobotie Bunny Chow
I have had Bobotie before but not in a Bunny Chow and I have to say that I like it a lot more bunnychow style. In the box you got a hollowed out bread bowl stuffed with a very generous portion of the creamy bobotie filling. On top of that was a sprinkling of coriander leaves a dollop of crème fraiche (or maybe it was sour cream) and alongside a couple of pots, one of a simple sambal, and another of spicy chilli jam. As you dug down into the bowl you get to a point where the bread and the sauce overlap as the gravy from the curry filling soaked into the walls of the bread. That bit was extra yummy.
I also had to try the ‘Durban Chicken Curry’ that was being served up ‘Bunnychow’ style by the NowNow Food company. For £5 you got a decent portion of the spicy Durban Curry in that hollowed out bread bowl. It also came with a nice chutney salad and a chilli sauce dip. This is a typical Durban Street Food Dish, hot spicy and flavourful.
Durban Chicken Curry Bunny Chow
The curry filling was mostly chunks of chicken and potato all cooked in a nice spicy curry gravy with onions and tomato. Typically that curry gravy is made with a Durban Masala curry powder that usually with a blend containing ground coriander, cinnamon, cumin, curry leaves, fennel seed, dried chilies, cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic. It can be pretty hot and in the same way that you can cool down your mouthful with a spoonful of rice, you can do that here with a bit of that bread bowl.
I really cannot say which of the two filling choices I liked the best. I suppose if it cam to a push I would say that as a Bunny Chow I would eat the Bobotie version again, I don’t think I would just eat the Bobotie on it’s own, I would however happily eat that Durban Chicken Curry on its own without the bread bowl. I might try and make that myself
If you want to try some of the Now Now Company Bunny chow yourself then check them out on Facebook and Twitter to see where they will be popping up next. They seem to travel far and wide across the country to different food festivals so the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages are the best ways to track them down.