As someone who grew up with a dad who was born and raised in Japan, I have been lucky enough to have tasted and enjoyed many traditional Japanese dishes — one of them being Japanese curry.
This dish was first introduced in the Meiji Era when the Indian subcontinent was under the reign of the British. During this time, curry spice was imported into Japan from India and by 1870, curry — known as karē in Japan — was distributed and became a staple in the Japanese diet. This curry is most commonly eaten with steaming Japanese short grain rice — called raisu karē — but can also be paired with udon noodles, a fried egg or salad.
One thing I appreciate about this dish is its versatility. With a variety of vegetables and proteins to include in this curry, there are many possible ways to make it. The basic vegetables to include are potatoes, onions and carrots, while the basic proteins to use are beef, chicken and pork. Most households in Japan make their curry from instant roux, which can come in dry cubes or in a powder form containing curry powder, flour, oils and other flavorings.
This curry roux can be found at local Asian stores — you can check out Asian Market or C’ville Oriental — with different brands and varieties, including mild and hot options. I personally like the spicy version from the brand Golden Curry.
Curry, in any culture, is often eaten and shared with others. With this in mind, eating curry amongst family and friends can spark conversation around the table, deepening connections and allowing for all types of catching up. Try out this recipe to not only satisfy your taste buds and cravings but to also facilitate a friendly gathering of close friends and family.
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Yields: About 5 bowls
- 4-5 golden potatoes
- 2 white onions
- 4-5 carrots
- 1 pack of curry roux
- Choice of protein — vegan options include firm tofu
- 2 cups rice (Any rice of your choosing, but Japanese short grain rice is most commonly used)
- Start to cook your rice according to the instructions for your rice cooker. I use a Japanese rice cooker, which cooks the rice in about 20 minutes. If you don’t have a rice cooker, don’t fret! Just follow steps 2-8.
- Wash your rice two or three times to get the extra starch off of the grains.
- Place your rice into any pot of your choosing. A cast iron pot, a clay pot or a non-stick pot would all work.
- Add equal parts water. For example, if using two cups of rice, add two cups of water.
- Soak your rice in the pot with a lid for 20 minutes.
- Heat your rice and water on high until it starts to boil with the lid on. Once it reaches this point, turn heat to low to prevent spillover from bubbling.
- Heat at low for 12-15 minutes. Make sure to keep the lid on for this entire time.
- Turn off the heat completely.
- Peel your potatoes and cut into eighths.
- Peel your carrots and cut in about ½-inch slices.
- Chop your onions into eighths.
- Cut your choice of protein into cubes and season with a bit of salt and pepper.
- Throw your protein and onions into a pot and sauté them at medium heat.
- Cook for about three and a half minutes or until your protein is semi-cooked and onions are golden and tender.
- Put in your carrots and let them simmer with your protein and onions. Stir periodically for about two minutes.
- Add your potatoes into the pot and let simmer with the rest of the ingredients for about four minutes as you stir periodically.
- Add 3 cups of water into the pot to start making your broth.
- If cooking with meant, skim the top using a skimmer when meat impurities rise to the surface. These can usually look like darker chunks of foam that float on the surface. For beef, which is what I use, it is a dark brown color.
- Mix every so often for about 10-13 minutes or until all vegetables and protein are fully cooked.
- Add in your four cubes of curry roux and stir until it is completely dissolved — this should take about a minute or so. You should see the mixture thicken into a more curry-like texture. This will look like a much thicker consistency than stew, and it will have a golden brown color.
- If you like your curry a bit creamier, I recommend adding a splash of milk and stirring it in.
- Ladle out a serving over your rice, udon noodles or salad and enjoy.
Although in this specific recipe I use rice, you can use any of the alternatives mentioned at the beginning, including udon noodles, greens or a fried egg. Udon noodles, which are thick and chewy in texture, can be found at most local Asian food stores — including the ones mentioned above. The most popular greens to pair with Japanese curry include spinach, frisée and rocket! These vibrant greens contrast the creamy, savory curry and add a pop of color to your plate.
As you can see, this recipe is extremely easy to make, and it gives you enough servings to share with all of your friends. Give this filling and flavorful curry a try this winter to brighten up your mealtime.