The story of curry and how Bunny chow got it got its name
A 16th-century Dutch traveller, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, also described the way caril was eaten in Goa. He wrote: “Most of their fish is eaten with rice, which they seeth in broth, which they put upon the rice, and is somewhat sour as if it were sodden in gooseberries or unripe grapes, but it tasteth well, and is called Carriel, which is their daily meat.”
Another 17th-century traveller, Pietro Della Valle from Rome, described caril in his accounts as broths “made with butter, the pulp of Indian nuts . . . and all sorts of spices, particularly cardamom and ginger . . . besides herbs, fruits and a thousand other condiments . . . poured in good quantity . . . upon boiled rice.”
So it was probably the Portuguese who set the ball rolling by
introducing the word caril to the world. Interestingly, prawn curry is
still called ‘Caril de Camarao’ in some places in Goa. Meanwhile, back in India, the kari continued to evolve into a
plethora of extremely regional variations. Persian influence led to
the addition of yoghurt in meat gravies, cream and pureed nuts were
added in Lucknow to produce decadent kormas, and chillies from
South America (introduced by the Portuguese) gradually found their way
into south Indian curries—it goes without saying that our forerunners
took to this new seasoning with immense gusto. But how did this huge range of dishes end up being lumped together
under one moniker? For that, we have to look to the British and their colonising mission.
Wherever the British went, taking with them bureaucrats, soldiers, clerks, cooks, indentured labourers, and other cogs in the wheels of the Raj, so did the local curries of India, ( like the Railway Mutton Curry, a British Raj colonial-era dish that was served on long distance trains. The dish was served with dinner rolls.). But with typical insensitivity and willful ignorance, they replaced the varied recipes and diverse eating cultures with a homogenous notion of an Indian ‘curry’.
In 1747, Hannah Glasse published the first curry recipe in English under the title of ‘To Make a Currey The Indian Way’. By the late 19th century, commercial curry powder was being widely sold in England, even though it had little resemblance to anything being used in India. In fact, Indians rarely depended on a single powder to make their versions of the dish, instead relying on a melange of spices specific to the recipe.
Ever since, these reclaimed and reinvented curries have continued to conquer all, wherever they have settled. Like the Indian diaspora itself, they are true to their origins yet creative, full of surprising flavours and depths, and yes, infinitely adaptable.
Take, for instance, South Africa’s Bunny Chow. Essentially a piping hot Indian-style curry housed inside a hollow loaf of bread, Durban’s bunny chow is a much-loved street snack in South Africa. In fact, according to the Johannesburg Times it has become an “integral part of South Africa’s culinary heritage.”
Add tomatoes followed by chicken, stir and sauté for about 2-3 more minutes. Add chicken stock/ water if necessary to prevent any burns
Next add chickpeas, potatoes and chicken broth , about 1 1 1/2 cup , add more as needed. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until sauce thickens, it might take about 25 minutes or more
Adjust for salt, pepper and stew consistency.