Fusion · Indian · Recipe · South African

Durban’s Famous Mutton Bunny Chow!

There’s bunny in this dish?! I’m pretty sure my boyfriend has heard that question a dozen of times since moving here to the states back in ’07.  Not going to lie, but I’m also guilty of asking him that question very early in our relationship. Oops.


So, what exactly is this famous dish, hailing from the most beautiful city, Durban, South Africa? It’s curry in a hollowed out bowl. No utensils needed.  You start off by eating the piece of bread that’s placed on the dish first and then start breaking away the bread from the “bread bowl”.  You’ll get the evil glare if you dare to whip out cutleries.  Eat this like you would eat naan and curry.

This is street food in Durban and even though you can get this delicacy throughout South Africa, if you want the authentic stuff, you go to Durban.  Where in Durban serves the best?  Head to Capsicum restaurant in the Britannia Hotel.  First time I had it was there and you MUST get it with the mutton/lamb curry.  It’s simply divine! Vegetarian? You can make this with beans curry too!  It’ll taste just as well! Don’t like mutton?  Use chicken, although my boyfriend would not be pleased.

Just to prove my point how beautiful Durban is.
Just to prove my point how beautiful Durban is.

This street food is huge!  You can get it in a whole loaf, half loaf, or quarter loaf of bread.  Yes, a loaf.  It’s filling but it tastes so good.

I decided to recreate this dish for him last night, hence the first picture at the beginning of this post.  I tried recreating Britannia’s version but with my own twist.  Still tasted just as delicious, if I say so myself.  There are a few things you must remember when making Durban mutton curry: 1) it must be spicy. Yes, it must. Trust me when I say even some of my boyfriend’s family, who are not too into eating spicy food, devoured this dish. 2) You MUST use unsliced SANDWICH loaf.  Do not think about grabbing Italian loaf or any sort of crusty bread.  It must be unsliced sandwich loaf, that’s soft on the outside and soft on the inside.  This is also known as “Government loaf” in South Africa. 3) To make this curry authentic style, it tastes better if you use “Durban Red Masala”, also known as “mother-in-law’s tongue”.  You can find this at any grocery store throughout South Africa, however, it is really difficult to find rest of the world.  You can order it online but I found a recipe that is pretty similar to the red masala, which I will post below.  Yes, you must make it spicy.

I used boneless leg of lamb but you can use boneless shoulder.  I ended up using the whole lamb leg, which if you do it’ll yield you about 6-8 servings.  Okay, enough talking, more cooking.

Did I mention, spicy?

Ingredients for Mutton Curry

  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, cleaned, trimmed of excess fat and cut into chunks
  • 3 tsp red masala powder for the lamb + 4 tsp for the curry
  • 2 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
  • 2 heaping tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves*
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp cumin-coriander powder*
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala*
  • 2 large onions, diced finely
  • 4 tsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1.5 tsp kashmiri powder
  • 1/4c neutral flavored oil
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large potatoes, skin peeled, diced into medium size chunks
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt, to taste

*can be found at any indian grocery store

Ingredients for Durban Red Masala (Mother-in-law’s tongue)

  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2c chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra with garnish
  • 1-2 unsliced sandwich loaf

Directions for Mutton Curry

  1. In a freezer bag, add the lamb and the 3 tsp red masala.  Mix well to make sure each piece of lamb is coated with the powder. Place lamb in fridge and let it marinate overnight.
  2. In a large pan, over medium heat, add the oil, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, fennel seeds and curry leaves.  Allow it to heat up and sizzle slightly.
  3. Once it starts sizzling, add the onions and turmeric powder and cook until onions turn translucent.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook for a minute to remove the raw taste from it.
  5. After a minute, add the tomatoes and cook until they become soft and slightly mushy.
  6. Add the red masala and kashmiri powder and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the lamb, mix well to combine, reduce heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add the potatoes and enough water to cook the potatoes in (I used about 3/4c), along with cumin-coriander powder, kashmiri powder, and salt.
  9. Bring the pan to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook gently until potatoes and lamb is cooked and tender.  Don’t fret if the gravy is too thin at first; as the potatoes continue to cook, it’ll release starch which will thicken up the sauce.
  10. Mix to combine and add the chaat masala and garam masala. Taste to adjust seasoning.
  11. Add cilantro leaves, stir once more.
  12. For the bread, cut the desired length.  I would suggest 1/4 loaf.  With a sharp knife, carefully hollow out the inside, making sure to not cut through the bottom. Make sure to leave some bread inside the loaf.  Do not throw away the inside of the loaf, as you will be eating that piece first with the curry before attacking the actual loaf.
  13. Once the bread is hollowed out, place the curry inside the loaf and garnish with cilantro.
  14. Serve with picked carrots and onions and sambal, if desired!

Directions for Red Masala Powder:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix until it’s all combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container. This will yield you about 2/3 cups!



3 thoughts on “Durban’s Famous Mutton Bunny Chow!

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