Making a Perfect Mutton Bunny Chow

This dish comes with a legend of a story that dates to the Great Depression of 1933. The citizens of South Africa suffered as everyone else did. Hunger was prevalent. Children found that the cheapest food they could buy was from the Bania people who were vegetarian and of the lowest of the Indian caste system. The protein was made from a bean curry.

The children did not have plates or utensils and asked the Indian seller to serve their curry in their bread that had been hollowed out to form a bowl. The bread pieces that were pulled out were then used as make-shift utensils. The Chinese in the region used the word “chow” for food. Both words were combined and the protein and curry-filled bread came to be known as Bania Chow.

Through the years the name has been morphed into Bunny Chow. Throughout history, it has sustained local workers as it is an easy, and portable lunch. Now Bunny Chow is a delicious and popular South African fast food phenomenon.

It can be made with a variety of fillings but chicken or mutton, and bean curry choices are the most widely eaten. The food is as tasty as its rich heritage and it is a local favourite. It is usually served in newspaper quite like fish and chips. There simply is not a way to eat this dish neatly. The messier the better!

Our recipe below is for mutton bunny chow but you can substitute in another meat depending on your preferences. This authentic dish is amazing and fun to eat. Serve it at backyard parties, for a family dinner or for a meal on the go. It is full of versatility and ingenuity and creates the perfect combination of spice, meat, sauce, and sass.

The recipe below makes 4 servings.


Mutton Bunny Chow

Ingredients Needed:

  • 2 kg mutton cut in small pieces
  • 6 peeled potatoes
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 5 tbs. oil
  • 4- 2.5cm pieces of fresh cinnamon
  • 5 cloves
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 4 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies, sliver cut
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. ginger
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbs. medium mixed masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tomato chopped fine
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ cup chopped coriander
  • 1 loaf of bread cut in four quarters


  1. Take meat out of refrigerator and rinse. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add in the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, coves, and fennel.
  4. Next, add the chilies, curry leaves, ginger, turmeric, onion, and garlic.
  5. Stir all together. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine: garam masala, mixed masala, vinegar, and sugar. Stir together getting all ingredients perfectly combined.
  7. Add this mixture to the skillet and stir all together.
  8. Add the mutton.
  9. Sauté together until the mutton is completely coated.
  10. Cover and simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally. You will want to cook your mixture until the meat is braised and the oil floats to the top of the juice.
  11. Add in the water.
  12. Continue to cook until the meat is tenderized.
  13. Add in potatoes, tomato, and puree.
  14. After the potatoes are cooked tender and the gravy slightly reduces, add in the coriander.
  15. While this is cooking, cut the loaf of bread into fourths.
  16. Once your mutton curry is done, spoon it into your bread then place the bread pieces on top of the “bunny chow”.

Though this dish is perfect with a wide variety of sides, a fabulous authentic side dish to serve with your Bunny Chow is Carrot Sambal which is a beautiful salad made from grated carrots, deseeded and diced hot chillies, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt.

Both dishes marry well together to create a meal hat is a crowd pleaser that will quickly become a traditional meal in your family. It is delicious, fun and hits all the right cords when it comes to portable comfort food. Try this dish on your next picnic this season!