Have you ever had curry in a sandwich? It’s not quite as strange as it might seem . Oliver Denton shows us how to make Bunny Chow: a spicy curry served in a hollowed out loaf
My friend Dave once told me a story about how he used to regularly eat spaghetti bolognese sandwiches. His motto, he told me, was “If it’s edible and in my house, it’s going in a sandwich”. He went on to describe how many different items had found their way in between his bready curtains – including a Tesco Value lemon meringue pie (“tangy, but messy”).
Coincidentally, around about the same time as I was finding out about the depths of David’s past depravities, I was told of a South African tradition that he would have approved of – the Bunny Chow. My brother-in-law, originally from Durban, told me of the mystical dish – a spicy curry served within a hollowed out loaf of bread. I had to make one.
Under his expert tutelage, I managed to turn an old beef and potato curry recipe into the filling – and Morrisons provided a couple of loaves which were the perfect casing.
Remember, with this recipe you can really freestyle. Curry cooks slowly, so you can choose different bits and bobs to throw in and increase the excitement factor. I found an onion squash to add to potatoes and button mushrooms, and I’m sure there are loads of other possibilities – use your imagination!
Ingredients + Recipe
For the pan (to start)
2 tbsp almond oil (or any nut oil)
Chunk of ginger (as big as a grown man’s thumb, diced finely)
2 cloves of garlic (diced finely)
4 shallots (diced finely) – you can also use other types of onion
Add the oil to a big pot or saucepan and heat at 60% heat until it starts gently bubbling (one minute). Add the shallots, ginger and garlic and fry for four to five minutes.
The curry mix
1 tbsp madras curry powder
1 tbsp crushed chilis (cayenne)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 star anise
Add all of the curry mix ingredients to the pot and stir in with shallots. Fry for one minute, and enjoy as the herbs and spices fill your kitchen with amazing smells! It may seem like all of the powders are drying out the pan a little bit, but don’t worry – the moisture from the beef and other ingredients will soon add plenty of liquid to the pan.
850g stewing beef (chunks)
Add all of the beef and coat in spices by stirring it around. The moist beef should quickly mop up all of the spice, and they’ll have a nice covering. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes until you’re ready for the next phase.
300g potato cubes
200g onion squash cubes
3 red chili peppers
2 green chili peppers
1 tin (400ml) coconut milk
Now the meat is cooking in the pan, it’s time to add the extras. Get the potato, squash, chilis, salt and coconut milk into the pan and start stirring. There should just be enough coconut milk to cover all of the other ingredients, if not then don’t be shy about adding a little more (although generally the tins of coconut milk come in 400ml, so you might be better reducing the amount of the ingredients slightly instead…up to you!)
Now bring the curry (which is basically fully prepared now) to the boil and then turn the heat down to 20% and simmer (keep it bubbling but gently) for 25 minutes, stirring from time to time so that you don’t ruin your pan.
The extra extras
125g button mushrooms
After 25 minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the curry has thickened up to the point where you’re confident it’s not going to soak straight through your loaf and dribble onto the carpet.
To add just before it’s finished cooking
2 tbsp lime juice
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
So if you’re confident that your curry is ready for its soft, warm housing, add the lime juice and sugar and stir them through. This will give a tiny extra tang to the already deep curry flavour.
2 loaves of bread, unsliced
To make the housing for the curry, you need a full loaf of bread. You can pick any type, although my man on ‘the inside’ says that it doesn’t need to be fancy. Just make sure you don’t buy it pre-sliced….
Cut the end off (around 4cm from one end) and then rip (or cut) out the middle. Make sure you don’t rip out too much though! You need a little fluff in there to soak up the curry juices and to maintain the integrity of the curry house. Integrity is everything to a curry house.
Spoon the curry directly into the hollowed out loaf, and then put the top (or lid) back on and serve immediately!
The official way of eating a Bunny Chow is to rip pieces of the bread off the housing and grab the curry chunks inside – making mini curry sandwiches. Go ahead, Dave will be proud of you.
Inspired? For more delicious curry recipes visit Great British Chefs.