YOU’RE DE­LI­CIOUS, DUR­BAN!

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - { TEXT: JULIE GRA­HAM | IMAGES © ISTOCKPHOTO }

WHEN­EVER I THINK OF DUR­BAN, THE CITY IN WHICH I SPENT MOST OF MY YOUTH AND EARLY ADULT­HOOD, I RE­MEM­BER GLO­RI­OUS SUNNY DAYS SPENT GAL­LI­VANT­ING ON THE BEACH­FRONT OR HIK­ING IN THE HILLS, AND NIGHTS SPENT WAN­DER­ING THE STREETS, EN­JOY­ING AN AR­RAY OF DE­LI­CIOUS FOODS FROM OUR LO­CAL HAUNTS, BE­FORE AND AF­TER DANC­ING THE NIGHT AWAY IN SWEATY NIGHT­CLUBS. IT WAS THE 90S AND, FOR­TU­NATELY, IN TERMS OF THE DE­LI­CIOUS FOODIE OF­FER­INGS THAT ARE IN­DIGE­NOUS TO THIS VI­BRANT CITY, NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED.

When I have a nos­tal­gic pang for my home­town, my mouth im­me­di­ately be­gins to wa­ter and my nose fills with the aro­mas of the fiery spices of the lo­cal cur­ries which come in so many dif­fer­ent, de­lec­ta­ble forms. The dy­namic fu­sion of In­dian and African cul­ture makes for an ex­cep­tion­ally tempt­ing lo­cal culi­nary scene. Here is a mere sam­ple of what makes Dur­ban so de­li­cious.

BUNNY CHOW

Un­doubt­edly one of Dur­ban’s most fa­mous ex­ports, this ubiq­ui­tous meal sym­bol­ises much of Dur­ban’s cul­tural and so­cial her­itage. Known af­fec­tion­ately as the “bunny”, the bunny chow was first in­tro­duced in the 1940s as a re­sult of the op­pres­sive apartheid regime which did not al­low peo­ple of colour to en­ter restau­rants.The restau­rant man­agers at the time, known as Bhanyas, in­stead opened a hatch and sold the meal as a take­away on the street with­out the need of cut­lery from the restau­rant. Bhanya’s Chow (chow be­ing a col­lo­quial term for food) soon be­came very pop­u­lar and later be­came the term bunny chow.

A bunny is es­sen­tially a square loaf of soft, white bread that has been hol­lowed out and filled to the brim with a fiery curry of your choice. It’s gen­er­ally a lip-sear­ingly spicy, messy de­light and best washed down with a lo­cal beer.They are ex­tremely pop­u­lar and rel­ished across the coun­try, but never with more de­light than in their home­town of Dur­ban.

JOHNNY’S ROTI

As one would pay a visit to the Eif­felTower when vis­it­ing Paris, or the Taj when in In­dia, a visit to Dur­ban is sim­ply not com­plete with­out a visit to the in­fa­mous Sun­rise Chip ’n Ranch, aka “Johnny’s Ro­tis” as the lo­cals call it. Another in­sti­tu­tion in town, this hang­out of­fer­ing bunny chows, ro­tis, cur­ries and breya­nis has been around for decades and is the tra­di­tional pit-stop for late night/early morn­ing crav­ings.The most fa­mous of­fer­ing from this hole-in-the-wall, stal­wart hang­out is un­doubt­edly the sig­na­ture triple chip and cheese (with deca­dent mut­ton gravy) roti which is eas­ily big enough for two, but who likes to share at 03h00 when the munchies strike? Buzzing from when it opens to the wee hours of the morn­ing, this is the place where you will

en­counter many a Dur­ban­ite and many a newly-ini­ti­ated tourist lap­ping up the deca­dent, large-por­tioned of­fer­ings that come at a re­ally rea­son­able price.

SAR­DINES ON TOAST

I know, it doesn’t sound all that tempt­ing. But don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.This lo­cal favourite is in­spired by the epic marine mi­gra­tion of the hum­ble sar­dine that takes place each year some­time be­tween May and July. Known as “The Great­est Shoal on Earth” this nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non sees mil­lions of sil­very, swirling sar­dines mi­grat­ing from the Western Cape north­ward to the warm waters of the In­dian Ocean in Dur­ban. Herded by pods of dol­phins, this mi­gra­tion turns into a marine buf­fet and sparks a mas­sive feed­ing frenzy among seabirds, seals, sharks and, of course, fish­er­men. The shares of the haul are sold at mar­kets where pubs and restau­rants, as well as lo­cals, all en­joy the fresh bounty from the sea. Best kept sim­ple, th­ese rich, oily del­i­ca­cies are best served on crispy toast, cut up and paired with to­mato and onions. And, of course, for a typ­i­cally Dur­ban twist, a de­li­cious blend of chilli, cu­min, co­rian­der, turmeric and gar­lic give it a killer Masala twist.

As men­tioned, this is just a sam­ple of all that is de­li­cious about Dur­ban. Not for­get­ting the crispy, tri­an­gu­lar-shaped samosa, stuffed with a spicy minced blend of chopped onions, chill­ies, and ei­ther lamb, fish, potato, or veg­gies. Or the ar­ray of de­lec­ta­ble Zulu-in­spired dishes like amazi (cur­dled milk), beer, pap (stiff maize por­ridge) and, for the more ad­ven­tur­ous foodie, mogodu (tripe).

The next time you visit Dur­ban, make sure you head to some lo­cal food mar­kets, ex­plore the city’s side streets, and feast your taste buds on some foodie de­lights that have be­come in­sti­tu­tions in this coastal haven.

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