Bunny chows are quintessentially Durban. And they are one of my all time favourite things to eat. So, they are not great for the IBS, but fok they are delicious. Being vegetarian in Durban is a pleasure when one of the most popular (and cheapest) fast food items is one of these babies. There is nothing like a good bunny.
For those of you who don’t know what a bunny chow is, it has nothing to do with rabbits. The origin of the bunny is highly contested (who made one first, where the name comes from etc). Despite the contested legends, it seems that they emerged in Durban during colonial / apartheid rule, as a response to labour migration and racial exclusion. Involving no cutlery, they can be served and eaten quickly and easily.
They have subsequently been appropriated as an edible mascot for all things Durban. The municipality uses them as a marketing tool (not the reason the marketing department for the city should be fired, but that story is for another day); middle class (predominantly ‘white’) hipsters have bunny t-shirts for their favourite jol; whole websites are dedicated to them; restaurants make larney versions and sell them for a fortune in miniature; and the urban rich and poor eat them on a daily basis at small cafe’s all around the city. Everyone has their favourite haunt (Little Gujarat or Nina’s, for example).
Even coca-cola (spit) have jumped on the bandwagon and are now sponsoring the Bunny chow barometer – an annual bunny chow competition. Judges visit bunny retailers all over Durban searching for the finest bunny. 10 finalists are selected and get to set up a stall at the event at Blue Lagoon. Coke definitely made the most of it – There was so much red, my pictures are tinged pink despite extensive fiddling in Ps.
We met 2 friends at around 11:30 to beat the lunchtime rush (by the time we left around 1 there was a traffic jam in and out of the parking lot). We selected 4 different retailers and ordered a quarter beans from each of them to compare. The results were as follows:
Fourth place: The New Victory Foods and Takeaway: Despite their reputation, this bunny was the blandest of them all. It was also served on a polystyrene tray, while a bunny is usually wrapped in newsprint. Of most concern is that polystyrene is filthy stuff – completely unsustainable in every way.
Third place: Danny’s House of Curries: The first bite was garlicy deliciousness. But as we carried on eating, it became more and more overpowering, and you could taste that it was packaged garlic as opposed to fresh.
Second place: A Taste of India: There was a lot of debate as to whether or not this was the winning bunny. Dean was an ardent advocate for this one. It was very delicious, but the rest of us thought that the winning bunny was…
First place: Mia’s Halaal Restaurant: Mia’s is located in the Chatsworth Centre. This bunny was so good, we decided to try more. Cameron and Dean got a mutton bunny while Gwyn and I chose a mixed veg. It was the best mixed veg bunny I have ever had in my entire life. The peas were sublime. This bunny will visit me in my dreams.
6 quarter bunny chows down we had to find somewhere to sleep. We didn’t stay for the whole day, so unfortunately I do not know who the official winner was as yet. I have not found any information online either, but will share the news as soon as I find out.