Beans in pepper stew – Bunny Chow style

Beans and Bunny Chow are both dishes that originated as food for the ‘common man’: cheap and practical. Today it does not matter what your station in life is: Nigerians love their Beans and Durbanites love their Bunny chow.

Beans in pepper stew popularly known as Ewa is a traditional Nigerian dish of beans served with a spicy pepper sauce in red palm oil thickened with ground-dried crayfish.

Growing up I saw people run after the hawkers as they carried the ‘ewa’ in black pots on their heads. They would serve the beans in aluminum pans or bowls; press the middle of the beans so that they could put the pepper stew in the middle. It’s amazing with Agege bread (sweet, dense and chewy bread named after a city called Agege in Lagos State, Nigeria).

I would love to feel among and say that I ate this growing up but I didn’t. We weren’t ‘really’ allowed to buy cooked food from the streets. Excluding Agege bread which my dad didn’t approve of but my mum bought anyway…… and food she ordered from Ghana High (food stall under the bridge) when we visited her office in Marina, Lagos or Amala and Ewedu from Amala Shittu (another famous road side food seller in Surulere) when we visited her Crèche.  My mum upped our street cred.  I also remember an uncle buying Ogogoro aka Sapele water aka palm wine once from a tapper on his bicycle for us (obviously my parents weren’t home). Hopefully this post brings back good memories for those that were lucky enough to eat this culinary delicacy growing up…


Bunny Chow is a South African fast food dish consisting of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. The bunny chow was created in Durban.

One story has it that a restaurant run by people known as Banias (an Indian caste) first created the scooped-out bread and curry dish at a restaurant-cum-cafe called Kapitan’s on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets in Durban. The food was a means to serve take-aways to excluded people. During the apartheid regime, Indians were not allowed in certain shops and cafes and so the shop owners found a way of serving the people through back windows, etc. This was an easy and effective way to serve the workers.

Another account suggests that Indian migrant workers used it as a way of carrying their lunches to the field; the hollowed out loaf of bread was a convenient way to transport their vegetarian curries……. Source:

I randomly discovered the Bunny Chow last year and saved it in my ‘to try’ recipe folder. In the meantime I thought it was a great way to serve ‘Ewa’ which is usually eaten with bread too 🙂

Beans in pepper stew Recipe (serves 6)

Ingredient list

  • 500g honey black eye beans
  • 3  onions (chopped)
  • 1 onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup of palm oil
  • 2 medium onions (roughly chopped for blending)
  • 3 red bell peppers (roughly chopped for blending)
  • 3 scotch bonnet peppers (roughly chopped for blending)
  • 3 Tsp of crayfish, ground
  • 2 stock cubes (Magi Crayfish)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Put beans, chopped onions and 10 cups of water in a pot and leave on low heat for 3 hours or until bean is very soft (add salt to taste after 1 hour).
  2. Blend the medium onions, bell peppers and scotch bonnet peppers, pour mixture into a dry pot and boil until dry (15 – 20 mins)
  3. Heat the palm oil in a dry pot for 3 mins, add sliced onions and stir for  3 mins
  4. Add boiled pepper mixture to palm oil and allow to fry on low heat for 8 mins
  5. Stir in ground crayfish and stock cubes, and add salt to taste, continue to fry on low heat for an additional 7-10mins
  6. Stir well  and then serve with cooked beans


  • Fried plantain or agege bread are wonderful accompaniments
  • Beans will cook faster in a pressure cooker.





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