Mild and delicious Japanese Curry Rice made from scratch using curry powder, garam masala, tomato sauce, thick Worcestershire sauce, and rice flour.
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.
Mild Japanese Curry
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.
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.
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- 20 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut into bite sized pieces) (560g)
- 2 medium onions (chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (rolled cut into bite size pieces)
- 6 medium potatoes (cut into bite size pieces)
- 1 cup frozen green peas (150g)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1½ cups apple juice (360ml)
- 1 cup water (240ml)
- Salt to taste
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add vegetable oil. Brown onions for about 5 minutes
- Turn up heat and add chicken. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add in carrots. Pour in apple juice and water and allow liquid to come to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Skim off fat appearing on the surface.
- Add potatoes and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes.
- 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 stir.
- Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup and continue to stir until well incorporated and paste starts crumbling. Remove and set aside.
- When meat and vegetables are ready, ladle about 2 cups (480ml) of hot liquid from Dutch oven into the roux and stir until smooth. Pour mixture back into Dutch oven and gently stir until thickened.
- Add green peas and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off stove.
- 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 Bento for the Boys
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. 🙂
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎