Beautiful Butter Chicken Bunny Chow

14 06 2010

Butter chicken is, as far as the Western world is concerned, without doubt the holy grail of chicken dishes. So then what the dickens is bunny chow, you ask? It’s traditional South-African-Indian fare that usually involves a hollowed-out half bread loaf that is then filled with an aromatic Indian curry. Combine the two, and you’ve got yourself just one more reason to love South Africa.

The background? Life is about to get pretty eventful in the sleepy hamlet of Noordhoek outside Cape Town where we live (until October 2011 that is). Well it is in our corner of the valley at least. Picture this – three houses in a row, two houses to the right of us are home to very pregnant ladies. They are sisters. They are due one week apart. I must also add that they are not, however, your proverbial desperate housewives. Meg of the barley salad fame I have introduced to you before, and Mel is already Mum to the adorable Lana and is a fabulous web designer.

Forgive me, I digress. So, we all gathered together last night for a baby shower with a difference. Kill the kitsch was the underlying motto, so no cheesy games, and boys allowed. That meant braai, beer, boys jokes, and one very cool quiz where both expectant dads went head to head for the title of most prepared for all heck to break loose next month. It was epic.

It also meant lots of boy-friendly snack food needed to be prepared. The crudites that Lucy brought were particularly delicious, but we knew they wouldn’t stave off the guys who had worked up an extra appetite from all the world cup soccer and SA v France rugby supporting this weekend. Enter Bunny Chow.

Rob’s Rating: 8/10
Serves 15 as snacks or 6 as main meal | Preparation time 15 minutes | Cooking time 1 hour

(Don’t worry, it’s pretty much a maintenance-free hour of cooking, and you can make it the day before, or week before and freeze)
Adapted from Jane-Anne Hobbs-Rayner’s fabulous blog, Scrumptious (link below).

500 g chicken thighs, roughly chopped
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
2 tsp each of turmeric, medium hot curry powder, ground coriander, cumin and dried chilli flakes (Don’t throw all the spices together yet; just keep the boxes out and ready, as you need only half of each to start with.)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 x 410 g can chopped peeled tomatoes
2 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3 Tbsp ground almonds (the vital secret ingredient!)
12 readymade mini pita breads
100 ml low-fat coconut milk
a handful of chopped fresh coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If possible, the morning before:
Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and coat with the yoghurt, and 1 tsp each of the turmeric, curry powder, coriander, cumin and chilli. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to rest.
* I have made this without the resting time and it’s still delicious; so don’t panic if you don’t have time.

To cook:
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium-sized pot over a medium–high heat. Add the garlic, grated ginger, black pepper and remaining spices, and let them ‘marry’ with the oil until fragrant.

2. Add the chicken mix in a couple of batches so that the pot isn’t overwhelmed. Stir and let it come to a simmer, 3–5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sweet chilli sauce and ground almonds.

3. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. You will know you’re close when the colour starts to change to a delicious rich burnt orange and the meat is really tender. Try not to stir too often, as this can break up the chicken too much.

4. Heat the oven to 200 °C. Lay out the mini pitas on a baking tray, sprinkle lightly with water and bake them for about 1 minute until golden.

5. About 5 minutes before serving, add the coconut milk to the butter chicken and stir gently and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle over the fresh coriander.

6. To serve, arrange the pitas on a platter with the dish of butter chicken and a few teaspoons on the side for serving. Your friends can then spoon the chicken directly into the pitas, making their own ‘bunny chows’.
For a main meal option, serve with a side salad and readymade naan bread, cous cous or basmati rice.

For a main meal option, serve with spicy chickpea salad, and ready made naan bread, or cous cous or basmati rice.
Is your mouth watering? You might also like our ultimate Lamb Curry recipe.

Thank you Scrumptious Blog for the idea. Your recipe involved mini bread rolls, which I had every intention of using but chickened out (!) at the last minute and opted for the slightly less-admin pitas. I definitely want to try the rolls sometime soon though, maybe with less people.



3 responses

15 06 2010

I give this a 10/10. Rob! What, man?

15 06 2010

Ah Mrs Kate you are too kind! Thanks!! 🙂

21 06 2010

Wow, this is AWESOME and so easy! I threw mine into normal pitas cut in half, and served as a starter to my girl-friends – they LOVED it! Cuz had the leftovers today with salad and said it was the best salad he’s ever had! Thanks Foodie!

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