Curry rice

Curry rice

Kare raisu

By
From
JapanEasy
Serves
2-4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

The story of Japanese curry is one of global empires rising and falling. Before the end of the 19th century, there was no curry in Japan. It was introduced not from India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia or anywhere else that can be thought of as somewhere curry originates – but from Britain. At that time, South Asian curry had already been integrated into the imperial diet, and it was British military officers and diplomats who introduced it to the Japanese. British curry – not very spicy, thickened with flour – caught on, particularly within the Japanese navy and army, where it was celebrated as an economical and tasty way to feed hundreds of hungry servicemen.

Curry remains one of Japan’s favourite comfort foods, delicious as it is weirdly divorced from curry’s Asian origins. Whereas an Indian curry will be naturally thick from puréed onions/tomatoes/chillies and a whole heap of spices, Japan’s curry is based on a flour-and-butter roux that thickens a lightly-spiced stock-based sauce. I do love Japanese curry, but I also love South Asian curries with their vibrancy and layers of flavour. This recipe combines the two. I keep it vegetarian, because I find it just as satisfying that way, but if you want you can add chicken, beef or pork to this. In fact, you can add just about anything you want (at the restaurant we put ham and cheese on it and it’s amazing).

Probably the least difficult curry you’ll ever make

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 onion, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into wedges
400g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1/2 cauliflower, broken into bite-sized florets
4 portions cooked rice

For the curry sauce

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 green chilli, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tomatoes
1/2 golden delicious or similar apple, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 banana
30g mild madras curry powder
2 tablespoons garam masala
750ml chicken or beef stock
60g butter
6 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt

Method

  1. For the sauce, combine the oil, onion, ginger, chilli, garlic, tomatoes, apple, banana, curry powder and garam masala in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Pour this into a saucepan and cook on a medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mixture begins to caramelise and the spices become aromatic. Add the stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook on a low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the roux thickens and turns a golden brown colour. Ladle the curry mixture from the other pan into the roux, a little at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate. Add the ketchup and soy sauce. Cook the mixture until it’s quite thick, then transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to purée until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
  3. Place the onion, carrots and potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, add the cauliflower and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until everything is tender. Drain and return to the pan, and pour in the curry sauce. Bring everything back to a simmer and serve with the rice.

Note

  • If you want a really authentic and REALLY easy Japanese curry experience at home, just buy a box of instant Japanese curry at the Asian supermarket. No, really – it’s good and cheap and fast, and it really doesn’t get much more authentic than that!
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