Japanese Curry Rice and Bento Banter on Facebook

Japanese Curry Rice

Many outside of Japan would be surprised to know that curry is one of the most popular dishes there. It is ubiquitous in many Japanese fast food and family restaurants, often served with rice. Another popular way of serving curry is with ramen or udon as seen in my Japanese Curry Udon. The taste of curry is described as “karaku oishii” that roughly translates to spicy delicious.

Japanese curry is a variety of curry all by itself. While most curries are thickened with coconut milk or yogurt, Japanese curry is roux based and tends to be mild and somewhat sweet. A wide variety of vegetables and meats are used but the most common are onions, carrots, and potatoes. Side dishes frequently served with curry are pork cutlet (tonkatsu), shredded cabbage, and pickled ginger (beni shoga).

The most common way of preparing Japanese curry is to use instant curry roux, which is available in blocks. They can be easily found in Asian grocery stores and come in three heat levels, mild, medium, and hot. Some are ready-made and come with sauce and vegetables.

Japanese Curry Rice

I come from a culture predominated by hot and spicy curries that can be quite a challenge to my kids who have milder palates. Japanese curry is a good bridge for them into the world of delicious spicy food. While the instant curry roux is very convenient, I have always wanted to make this dish from scratch. I adapted the recipe below with Marc’s Homemade Japanese Curry Rice from No Recipes. For the roux, I used a mix of Malaysian curry powder, garam masala, tomato sauce, thick Worcestershire sauce, and rice flour, making it gluten free. I sweetened the curry with apple juice instead of grated apples.

Japanese Curry Rice

Before we move on to the recipe, I would like to take a moment to announce a Facebook bento group I have recently created. There is definitely a growing interest in bento and lunch packing today. I have been packing lunch for Ro-Ri San and the boys ever since the boys started going to school and will continue to do so as long as they need it. The group on Facebook is known as Bento Banter and I invite you to join the group to share your bento and lunch packing experience with all of us. Please consider joining. I hope to see you there. :)

Japanese Curry Rice
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 servings
  • 20 oz (560g) skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 medium sized onions, chopped
  • 2 medium sized carrots, rolled cut into bite size pieces
  • 6 medium sized potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1Β½ cups (360ml) apple juice
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • Salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • Β½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp thick Worcestershire sauce
  1. Heat a large Dutch oven with oil. Brown onions over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Turn up heat and add chicken. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add in carrots. Pour in apple juice and water and allow it to come to a boil. Lower heat and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Skim off fat appearing on the surface. Add potatoes and continue to let it simmer for another 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, cook the roux. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in rice flour and allow it to cook until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne pepper. Give it a good mix. Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup and continue to stir until well incorporated and paste starts crumbling. Remove and set aside.
  4. When meat and vegetables are ready, ladle about 2 cups of hot liquid from Dutch oven into the roux and mix till smooth. Pour mixture back into Dutch oven and gently stir until thickened. Add green peas and allow it to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve warm over rice or noodles.

I added a side of lightly stir-fried mixed vegetables. This Japanese Curry Rice is fragrant, mildly sweet, and very delicious. My second son, Ro-Jiro absolutely enjoys it, without having to down it with cups of water. :) Brings me right back to the curry scents of Yokosuka. Read about it in my Food Adventures in Japan.

Japanese Curry Rice

Over the years of lunch packing, I have used many different containers for my boys’ bentos. This is one of my favorites for them when they were little. It is a small food flask that can keep food warm for a few hours and is perfect for rice and dishes like this curry. The side of vegetables is kept in a separate container. The food flask and container is then packed into an insulated lunch bag. The boys had the regular rectangular lunch bags. This one is mine. :)

Japanese Curry Rice
Japanese Curry Rice

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. says

    I will try your recipe using Quorn instead of chicken. I like the idea of making a roux. AND + I love your Bento boxes especially the Red Snoopy one!! It’s so Japanese.

    • Biren says

      I think Quorn or tofu will work well with this curry. I would like to try it with tofu some day. The Snoopy food flask was purchased years ago by my hubby in Japan. Of course my boys have graduated to the large Mr Bento food flask but this one still works for me. :)

  2. says

    I don’t know that I have tried Japanese curry, it looks amazing! I will have to look for the roux :) Sounds like a fun facebook group, sadly my kids pack my lunch πŸ˜‰
    Hope your having a wonderful long weekend :)

    • Biren says

      How fortunate you are! I hope my kids will remember to pack me lunch some day. :)

      You are still welcomed to join if you wish. :)

  3. says

    I am curious how the Japanese Curry tastes…been told that it’s very different from the spicy version that I am used to. Hope to try this one day and see how my boys like it.

    • Biren says

      Yes, it is quite different from the Southeast Asian curry. For one it is fairly mild and it does not have coconut milk in it. Howver, it does have the curry scent and flavor. Do give it a try. You may just like it. :)

  4. DongXing says

    The Japanese curry is excellent for little ones whose palate is gentler and milder. My daughter loves the spicy curry which the younger son can’t handle. I have made the Japanese curry udon from your blog before, using the ready-made roux and they absolutely love it. This curry of yours would indeed be a good bridge for him, I will definitely try this one day.

  5. says

    Japanese curry is one of my fav and I just love its unique mild sweetness.
    Trinke who doesn’t take any spiciness at all, could finished up everything that I gave her when I cooked with the mild Japanese curry roux. She even finished up mine and requested to have it again. πŸ˜‰
    I just bought another box of curry roux with medium spiciness to see if she can take it. πŸ˜‰
    I love your snoopy food flask! Cute! πŸ˜€

  6. says

    my friend cooked a curry using Baba’s curry powder recently and i told her it tasted like jap curry instead of indian curry which was what she originally set off to do…

    still trying to catch with comments and emails here…will check out your FB gp soon

  7. says

    Biren, my husband love Japanese curry and I’ve been buying the roux…yours look delicious with apple juice. Cute bento :-)
    Hope you are having a great week!

    • Biren says

      The roux is cubes are nice but homemade is best! Do give it a try. Looking forward to seeing more of your bentos on Bento Banter. :)

  8. says

    It looks phenomenal. I was turned onto curry when I lived in London, but I understand the “mild” palette. When I had it the first time, it was a tad too spice for me and I had to guzzle down a cup of water. Now I cannot get enough of it!

  9. says

    This dish is popular in Korea as well. As is the case in Japan, we typically make it with instant curry roux. But I am sure your homemade curry roux is much tastier than the instant one. Great post!

  10. says

    I am a true Japanese that every curry picture I see I have a huge craving for eating curry. No exception, this time too. I can eat it tomorrow morning when I wake up! Your homemade roux looks good! I need to study roux one day and it’s on my to do list. As the package roux is so easy I tend to use a few blocks and mix with other condiments. You got me motivated to make my roux one day! I also checked your Food Adventure link. Thanks for sharing it was a new post to me. The picture of yokohama make me miss home very much… It must be fun meeting you in Japan. πŸ˜‰

    • Biren says

      The instant roux is great for a quick fix but homemade is best. I think I will be cooking this often. Thanks for checking out Food Adventures in Japan. I enjoyed that trip very much. Love staying at the ryokan. Maybe someday we will meet in Japan. πŸ˜‰

  11. says

    Japanese curry is new to me but looks delicious..:)
    I am intrigued by the addition of apple juice to it.. must be a gentler version of the spicy curry..
    Enjoyed browsing through your space… loved it..:)

  12. says

    japanese curry is one of my favorite curries and yours look great! your snoopy lunch bag is so adorable and that’s a spread I’d definitely want for any meal!

  13. says

    Will have to call you the roux sister! That looks so tasty, Biren. Had no idea that you could also get THICK Lea & Perrins (I love that stuff!) It’s funny: the first time we ate at our Japanese friend’s house, she served the children separately with a Japanese curry made with the box of apple curry cubes. The kids loved it – and I pinched some, too. Realise it was full of flavour but not nippy. What a hit. Love the look of your recipe with the homemade roux. Fabulous!

    • Biren says

      I found the thick Lea & Perrins quite by accident but I really like it. It is great for cooking. I was surprised myself at how well the apple juice combined with the curry sauce. Looking at the pictures make me want to cook this again.

    • Biren says

      I have never seen or used the Glico brand and so I can’t tell you which is better. I am quite happy with the S&B golden curry for a quick fix. :)

  14. says

    I’ve only had Japanese curry a few times but always loved it! This looks so delicious and I have all the spices in my pantry so just need to pick up chicken, peas, and potatoes – this is totally going on this week’s menu! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  15. says

    oh wow! Japanese curry rice is my fav comfort food… I’ve always had the boxed curry roux, I don’t eat it often now because I know that block of curry isn’t healthy! Dying to try this recipe. Looks fabulous!

  16. DongXing says

    Made this curry for dinner this evening and it was an instant hit with my two kids, especially the son who has a much milder palette. The kids absolutely loved it! I’d followed your recipe and is really impressed with the rice flour roux which in my opinion is much lighter than the traditional wheat flour roux. This recipe is going into my archive, definitely will be making this again in the near future.

    • Biren says

      So glad to hear your kids loved the curry. Certainly not quite the same as our spicy SE Asian curries but delicious nevertheless. My second son, Jiro loves it too.

      I use rice flour roux most of the time as it works just as well. Keeps it gluten-free.

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