This is what I make for my vegan friends. It is wonderful with a bottle of dry white wine. To get the full experience you really have to eat it with your fingers, though, so make sure to have a lot of napkins. It’s basically a very hot tomato-based curry that is eaten out of a hollowed-out loaf of bread. Fusion cuisine at its roots: it’s a South African dish, and the curry is clearly from the tradition of the Cape Indians, while the loaf of bread is definitely British. There is a wonderful description of the origin of bunny chow in Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved. He describes it as a “gastronomic fuck-you,” in that the working-class poor of South Africa were appropriating British food (through the use of the loaf of bread).
I got this from The South African Illustrated Cookbook. This is my own version, of course, and is not verbatim from the cookbook, but it’s pretty close (closer than I usually stick to a printed recipe). Comments are in italics.
1 small loaf of bread, unsliced. (My husband likes to bake, so he does a basic French bread in a loaf pan to give it the right shape for this.)
1 small onion
a mixture of grated fresh ginger, minced fresh garlic, and chopped fresh hot peppers to taste (I like to use about 2T grated ginger, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, and 5 or 6 Thai chillies)
2 t each cumin and coriander
1 t cayenne (or other ground chilli)
salt to taste (not much is needed if you’re using canned beans)
1 14-oz can of butter beans, rinsed and drained (or equivalent dried butter beans, soaked and cooked until tender)
5 -6 Roma tomatoes, or 3-4 larger tomatoes
a generous handful of chopped cilantro
1. Blanch and peel the tomatoes. When they are cool, roughly chop them. Leave in the juice and seeds.
2. Gently saute the onion until golden. Add the ginger/garlic/hot pepper mixture as well as the spices. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then gently simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes. (You don’t want it to get too watery, so watch the texture and uncover it if it starts looking soupy.)
4. Hollow out the loaf of bread by cutting off the top. Fill the bread with the tomato/bean mixture and top with the cilantro.
Cut up the excess bread into bite-sized pieces. Serve on a large platter to a group of very hungry friends; everyone should dig in with their fingers, dismantling the loaf of bread as you go.
Maybe I’ll make this over the weekend. The weather is getting very nice and I am loving the idea of eating this out on the back porch as it gets dark.