Erica Platter and Clinton Friedman recently published Durban Curry Up2Date. We love how they tell food stories and share the people and places where each dish originate from. Much more than a recipe book, the beautiful images and bright design elements, puts one in the mood for curry – immediately!
Read their story and try their recipe for Sasol Salt Rock’s Famous Mutton Bunny
Is Durban’s best bunny chow made 56,9 km outside the city? At a service station? Mad ideas, both. But there are devotees who happily travel way up the coast for their favourite fix; they have been following Praveena Thulkanum for more than a decade.
Coca Cola Bunny Chow Barometer runner-up in 2008, and winner, in 2009, for the bunnies at the then family service station in Mount Edgecombe, the formidable Praveena is slightly peeved that she can no longer enter this hotly-contested competition. Salt Rock, where she runs the Sasol franchise, an hour’s commute from her home, is too far north to qualify. But her husband has switched to high-rise window-cleaning, and she’s the boss now, with rather more than curries on her plate.
Off to Fuel Retailers Association meetings in Joburg, planning promotions (Save the Rhino! Winter Warmth Fun Run!) and fund-raising events for local schools and children’s homes. Taking bunnies to the beach. She bought and branded her own tuk-tuk which feeds the crowds at events like the international Ballito Pro surfing contest.
“I like being in control from start to end. I’m driven,” she says.
There was no kitchen here when she first took over, but she soon convinced the national bosses that they were missing a trick. “Well, the bunny is my niche!”
The first bunnies were made in 2012 by Saras Padayachee, and she’s still at the stove. Praveena poached her from a nearby tractor company, where she was a tea-lady, after many years cooking for a Mauritian sugar farming family. Her recipe features, unusually for a local curry, no tomato. Most customers come to take-away – mutton the hot favourite – but there are a few tables outside with a view of cars, taxis, petrol and diesel pumps, and an enormous rhino which marks the turn-off from the busy road.
In 2013 the team grabbed headlines for an 8m-long bunny, the loaf specially baked in Durban and delivered in a huge lorry. The next year they cracked the world record for a 10m-long bunny. And Praveena picked up a string of industry awards, including, in 2018, the biggie: Sasol’s South African Franchise of the year.
We are unsurprised to discover that she was once a “very competitive” junior athlete – 100m, 200m, and the high and long jump.
1kg B1 leg or shoulder mutton, cut into pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
I cup oil
4 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
4 star anise
3 sprigs curry leaves
3 Tbsp grated ginger and garlic
5 Tbsp good mutton masala
2 Tbsp turmeric
3 Tbsp garam masala
2 Tbsp jeera (cumin) powder
2 Tbsp coarse salt
4 medium UTD potatoes, peeled, quartered
Coriander to garnish
Braise onions in oil. Add whole and ground spices. Braise few mins. Add meat, brown. Add water. Cook until meat is done, at least 1 hr. Add potatoes. Cook until they are soft and gravy has thickened.
Spoon into quartered, hollowed-out loaves of white bread. Scatter with dhania.
Enjoy with a glass of 2017 Leopard’s Leap Classic Shiraz!
Durban Curry Up2Date is available at leading bookstores nationally or from www.durbancurry.co
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