Bunny Chow – A Dish That India Lost

Bunny chow – well, it has nothing to do with bunnies as the name suggests. As far as history is concerned, Bunny chow originated from Indian workers working in South Africa’s sugar plantations. The workers would use their bread as a bowl and scoop out the inside of the bread to stuff them with various types of food items – curries, chicken, vegetables or mashed potatoes. This was a famous dish amongst the Indian laborers in those days. However, as the years progressed, the dish with its Indian origins, lost its existence in India – the land of diverse cuisines. The irony!

With the dish now getting global acclaim in countries like Australia, the U.S, and The UK, the dish is most famous and popular in Durban, South Africa. The dish has a lot of varieties as reinvented by many chefs in South Africa and is quite popular amongst the citizens. While the Indians left, they left behind their most favorite food item back in South Africa. Guess, that is why it’s no longer existent in India anymore.

Almost a century ago, to attract the Indian laborers, an Indian owner had started a small vegetarian restaurant called the Patel Vegetarian Refreshment Room in Durban with the main focus on one particular dish – the mouth-watering bunny chow oozing with spicy curry.

When asked about the origins of the Bunny Chow, Mr. Patel had an interesting story to offer.

According to Mr. Patel “Earlier, black people were not allowed to eat in the same place as the white. To not lose out on black customers, Rambhai Morar Patel, the first owner of this restaurant, started serving them curry and bread in a bowl outside the restaurant. But the bowls would keep getting misplaced and so, he came up with the idea of hollowing out the loaf and pouring the curry in it.”

While how the dish was created is still speculated, the key highlight is the fact that the dish with its Indian origins has lost its place in the Indian subcontinent. For a good bunny chow, Indians need to travel to Durban.

So, this seems like an important aspect for the food industry in India to consider right now – bringing back this ancient food item that has won the hearts of millions all over the world.

It is time to bring the Bunny Chow back home, where it belongs!

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