So delicious are Durban’s bunny chows that the city’s unique cuisine has been praised in the prestigious Wall Street Journal.
On an entire page in the December 21 weekend edition, devoted to the food, the writer begins by telling readers “bunny chow isn’t food for rabbits, and it is not made from them either”.
The soft bread and spicy curry filling was a staple of lunch counters in Cape Town and Joburg, but was essential to Durban’s Indian community.
The Wall Street Journal goes on to feature the best bunny chows in Durban, with tempting photographs of the local meals with their accompanying fresh salads.
Written by Wall Street Journal journalist Patrick McGroarty, the article covers the history of the bunny chow and how integral it is in the local Indian community.
The name bunny chow is believed to have originated from the word “Banias” which was what early Indian immigrants, part of the merchant class from India’s caste system, were called. The curry that was served in loaves of white bread became known as bunny chow.
McGroarty was shown around by Deena Naidoo, who was the first winner of the South African Masterchef reality cooking television show.
Together they visited Victory Lounge at the corner of Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Grey) Street and Bertha Mkhize (Victoria) Street, Oriental at The Workshop, Patel’s Vegetarian Refreshment Room also in Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street, Gounden’s Restaurant and Takeaway in Umbilo Road and Capsicum at the Britannia Hotel in Umgeni Road.
“I grew up in Durban, I know the streets and the places where you get a good bunny, it’s the food almost everyone can afford and its always tasty, there is nothing like it,” said Naidoo.
Devan Gounden, whose restaurant Gounden’s, is situated in Umbilo, said he had been visited by a few people who came into the shop to buy bunny chows after they had read the feature on a flight to Durban.
“It was good to get that type of feedback after the article was published, to know people around the world are reading about us,” said Gounden.
Kanagee Moodley, who runs Victory Lounge with her husband Billy, said it wasn’t the first time they had been featured internationally.
“People associate Durban with bunny chows and we have been around for years,” said Moodley.
She said that although they were situated in the middle of central Durban, people, especially tourists, liked to visit the shop and taste a bunny. “We also have a lot of people from Johannesburg who come to us for nostalgic reasons, remembering how they grew up in Durban,” she said.
Phillip Sithole, head of Durban Tourism, said the bunny chow was iconic to Durban. “In all the marketing we do, rickshaws and bunny chows are the staple, you can’t find these things anywhere else but in Durban,” said Sithole.