For those of you who are unaware, NRI Not really Indian cafe, brought to you by Chef Atul Kocchar is a casual diner that serves Indian Cuisine with a twist.
It serves food brought back by the Indian diaspora that migrated to other countries, taking with them a little bit of our culture and adapting to their regional food by adding their own indian twist to it! Interesting twist, yes.
To celebrate this food and its homecoming, NRI brings to you the Bunny Chow Festival!
So what’s a Bunny Chow? Glad you asked! Back in the days of Apartheid, which was a phase when South Africans had this system of Racial segregation, no idea why. Indians in South Africa weren’t allowed in cafes.This led to invention of this brilliant hand-held dish. There are various theories, like Golf caddies weren’t allowed to carry cutlery therefore it was just easy to eat from the bread-bowls, or how a Chinese man Chow snuck out a piece of bread for this Indian trader (Baniya). The dish originated in the Durban Indian community and evolved into what’s now called Bunny Chow!
Now that we have discussed how this dish originated. You also know why it’s at NRI. “The Indian diaspora in South Africa created their own adaptations of dishes as they settled in this new country.” And Chef Atul Kochchar believes “With every migration there were some classic recipes that went out with people. And in their new habitat they created a recipe with local ingredients that became part of their new homes and heritage”
Different Bunny Chows!
Bunny Chow is a bread-bowl filled to its maximum potential, with different delicious curries. One can get creative with the type of bread or curry its eaten with. But I won’t deny I was a little concerned about how soggy the whole affair could get.
The menu gives you an option of three kinds of bread. Honey Roasted Brown Bread, Brown Bread and regular white bread.
The different curries you could choose from were :
Vegetarian Chakalaka Bunny Chow -with soya bean & cassava (a south american woody shrub)
Piri Piri Chilli Spiced Chicken Bunny Chow with lime & curry
tangy & spicy South African BBQ Lamb Bunny Chow
Pulled Pork Bunny Chow, a slow roasted pork shoulder with fresh herbs and spinach
My Experience: NRI was packed with a number of families so seemed pretty popular with the family crowd. We had a community table full of bloggers. Happily chattering away sipping on some nice South African Nederburg Wine. I was quickly briefed with all of the things I just told you up there. I was warned that the portions were heavy so it would be wise to share a Bunny Chow with another friend. Since I was alone that night Bunny Chow was a good way to break the ice and bond with other bloggers.
I was excited about trying the Pulled Pork Bunny Chow so that’s the first thing I went for. While the dish was being prepared I quickly took a bite of the other flavours on the table.
The South African BBQ Lamb Bunny Chow was incredible! Soft, succulent beautiful chunks of mutton in this tangy sauce. One would expect BBQ to be sweet but it wasn’t. No coconut but due to the use of curry leaves the curry had a coastal taste to it. It was lovely! For those who know Monkey Gland sauce, the Chef sheepishly spoke to us about, the BBQ sauce here is an inhouse version of that. I frankly loved it! Not the name, the flavours.
Pulled Pork bunny chow had chunks of Pork pieces and some shreds of pork meat. Sweet and spicy sauce. This dish was properly on the sweet side. The pork wasn’t gamey. Again a good dish.
Piri Piri chicken was a universal favourite. Chicken cooked in a tomato heavy gravy with Piri piri chillies, lime and curry leaves. This one also had lentils, onions and tomatoes that were lending a coarse texture to the whole curry. Everyone loved it..(Mutton was still my personal preference)
The bread towards the end was soggy but it was soaked with the nice gravy so I didn’t complain much. All Bunny Chows come with pickled cabbage, Papad, a fried plantain. All played their part well and added to the dish.
I was famished and paired all of this down with a nice glass of Nederburg Master Shiraz glass.
It might happen that when people describe this dish to you it might not sound extremely appetizing but this one was pleasantly surprising.
For the Bunnies with a sweet tooth!
There is just one dessert on this menu for this fest. The Chocolate Bunny chow. We were so full that we were a little hesitant to move to that stage of things. Its a brioche filled with chocolate sauce, topped with sesame seeds and a fried plantain. It also came with a shot of Amarula. But I felt that without it this dessert would still be just as good. The brioche was dense muffin and with chocolate sauce made it a heavy affair. That’s where the fried banana helped us cut down the richness with its slight acidity. The sesame seeds on top added a nice touch to this dessert.
Amarula -of the menu:
It did seem to rule the drinks menu. Almost all cocktails had this cream liqueur. It hails from South Africa and makes a good addition to your dessert recipes sometimes. 😛
Since all the cocktails sounded rich and sweet to me, I decided to try them only around dessert time as I didn’t imagine it would go well with my regular food. A glass of Nederburg wine would be just fine.
But with the Chocolate bunny chow in front of me and a shot of amarula to accompany that it was rather difficult to finish my amarula based cocktail. It also tasted rather one dimensional to me. But it could be because of all the sugar I had tasted right before it!
I had a great time at NRI. Trying something new and really loving it. There are Bunny Chows on NRI’s regular menu but this particular menu will not be around post 24th! So if you don’t mind bread and so much of it, I do urge you to go try something new and the experience is absolutely worth it!
The Festival is on till 24th of this month.Their price ranges from Rs. 550 to Rs. 750.
Food (Bunny Chow):4
Value for Money: NA
(The Bombay Foodies had been invited to check out the Bunny Chow Menu. The staff and chef knew of us coming but honest reviews have been given by the reviewers.)