This Sunday Joe and I are going to Durban, a coastal city in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. I’m excited about going for several reasons, one of which is the food. Durban’s cuisine is heavily influenced by India, which is a hop across the Indian Ocean.
Today we got a taste of Durban in Melville, at a place called Neela’s on the second level of the Boulevard Shopping Center. It’s a tiny shop (a stand, really) that sells authentic South African-Indian fare, including 10 types of samoosas (spelled with two o’s, not one). Neela’s also specializes in the bunny chow, a spicy-sandwichy thing made only in South Africa.
Neela’s was opened just a few months ago by some guys from Durban who realized that no one in Joburg knew how to make a good bunny chow. The store is already so successful that they are planning to open a second location.
We discovered the samoosas first – Joe brought them home one day and we were instantly hooked. The potato samoosas are the best, delicately spiced with coriander and various secret ingredients. They taste like India inside a pastry.
I decided to try my first bunny chow today. A bunny chow is a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curried meat and vegetables. Avesh, the manager, recommended the lamb.
He brought it out and instructed me to “get my hands dirty,” as bunny chows are not meant to be eaten with utensils. I took his advice.
After I began to eat, Avesh returned and said I was supposed to eat the bread off the top first and then work my way in from the sides. Too late for that.
I don’t think there’s much more to say.
This was good practice for next week. I clearly need to perfect my bunny-chowing skills before going to Durban.
Note: Neela’s has closed since the writing of this post.