Japanese curry is one of my all time favourites dishes and when I made a batch the other day I thought that I would take the opportunity to update my recipe. The star of this curry is the roux, a mixture of butter, flour, and curry powder, that’s cooked until the the butter and flour turn golden brown and the spices are toasted, bringing out their flavour. When you add the roux to a liquid, such as broth, it thickens it, turning it into a nice thick gravy! You can use a store bought roux, which comes in a solid brick that melts into the liquid, or you can make your own roux with butter and flour and either a store bought curry powder or a homemade curry powder.
Other than the curry roux, this is a pretty basic curry with beef (or other meat), carrots and potatoes. Japanese style curries are often slightly on the sweet side and the sweetness in this curry comes from honey and a grated apple or pear. The combination of the curry spices flavours and aromatics with the sweetness is simply amazing! Japanese style curry is usually served over rice and it’s also great served over tonkatsu (pork cutlets)!
The leftovers are even better the next day, so I like to make a double batch! You can also use the leftovers in kare pan (curry bread) or kare udon (curry udon soup)!
Japanese Curry (Kare)
A Japanese style curry that’s slightly sweet with plenty of warm spices and aromatics!
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 pound beef (such as chuck), trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, grated/minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated/minced
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 cups beef broth (and/or dashi)
- 1 apple (or pear), grated (optional)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup (optional)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2-4 tablespoons curry powder
For the stew:
For the curry roux:
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the beef and brown on all sides before setting aside.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the beef, carrots, potatoes, broth, apple, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, curry roux (see below), bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and simmer until it just starts to turn a light golden brown.
- Sprinkle in the flour and curry powder, and simmer, whisking, until it turns a golden brown and smells nutty, before turning off the heat.
For the stew:
For the curry roux:
Option: Add 1/2 cup frozen peas near the end.
Tip: Serve over rice garnished with pickled ginger!
Kare Gyoza (Curry Potstickers)
Kare Pan (Curry Bread)
Kare Udon (Curry Udon Soup)
Katsu Karē (Pork Cutlet with Curry Sauce)
i’m curious to know if the name Java meant anything to the curry? (with possible connection to the Java island in Indonesia?)
I’ve never had curry, but it sounds really good!
Peter M says
Kevin, your Asian food affinity makes sense now that I know you were in Japan.
The inspiration shows in your Asian dishes.
Proud Italian Cook says
Now I have a curiosity with curry!Beautiful photo!
i loooove j-curry! I have a couple of packets in the pantry.
Cafe Johnsonia says
We had an exchange student from Japan who lived with us when I was a kid. She would make this for us all the time and I loved it! I forgot all about this…can’t wait to make it again!
i love the idea of having apples and sweet potatoes in a curry – yum!
I’ve been hearing a lot about Japanese curries lately. I’ll have to check them out. They sound very interesting. Like the carrots, sweet potatoes and apples!
Mochachocolata Rita says
this looks gorgeous….and I am Javanese hehe…agree with all, i love the idea of apples and sweet potatoes in a curry.
Cookie baker Lynn says
I’d never even heard of a Japanese curry. Thanks for enlightening me!
Flanboyant Eats says
curry that looks our carne con papa! how yum! i love your dish… it makes me feel like i’m eating one of my own. and i love love curry..
House Java Curry – not sure if I can find it here. I usually go for S&B Golden Curry. Not too bad. They have the spicy version that I like.
I enjoy Jap curries when I want milder curries because they are not at all spicy!
That looks tasty. I add sweet potatoes to my curries as well. I absolutely love the combination of sweet and spicy (or salty). I’ll be trying out your recipe, thanks!
I didn’t know there was such a thing as Japanese curry. That it’s milder is appealing. I’ll look for that mix now. Thanks!
Love Thai and Indian curry, but have never had Japanese curry. It does look much more thick and gravy-like. The combination of fruit, veggies and spices is so delicious.
the Japanese curry looks so luscious. Now that we know you were in Japan – we want to see you dressed up in kaboke theatre garb and painted white face 🙂
What a trip that would have been
This would go down so well with a Sapporo beer!
Japanese curry is a weird one. for me I have it about once every couple of years or so (at the Wagamama restaurant chain) and always end up, well, slightly disappointed. Maybe your version can rectify the situation?
Bellini Valli says
I will have to keep a lookout for this. I learn something new everyday:D
Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says
I am so amazed. because here in SA we make a sweet curry and I always thought it was authentic to our way of cooking, only to find out now that the Japanese has a similar recipe. It looks divine…
I saw a lot of kind of curries in grocery, but i don’t know exactly the difference between Japanese curry and
Indian curry. Your dish looks o tasty i love he idea to combine apples and sweets potatoes
Gosh, I’ve missed so many of your great recipes due to internet connection failure! :*( I LOVE japanese curry!!!
I so wish my husband liked curries, because I would love to make this!! I might just have to force him to like it!
I love curry and this looks delicious! Hitting the Asian store this week!
I love curry, and I love anything Japanese, so this is my sort of post! (there’s a lot of love in the room) Looks great ^__^
Kevin I never made curry how this but looks wonderful I would like to try! Gloria
This sounds like a curry different than any other I’ve tried–looks tasty!
doesn’t matter if you bought the curry roux, you still weaved your magic using all the other wonderful ingredients. this sounds lovely.
I absolutely love curry! I can’t handle the spice as much as I would want, but I still really enjoy curry dishes, especially in the winter.
Japanese curry is one of those things I keep meaning to try, but haven’t gotten to yet. Yours looks delicious, and since the spices come ready-mixed, I think I have to bump it up on the to-do list.
Oh wow! This looks delicious! I love Japanese curry. It’s just so delicious. Defers from other curries in my opinion :]
Kevin: Do you have a suggestion as to what cut of beef/pork should be used for curry? I have everything but the meat, but I’m not sure what to use..
Anthony: I normally just get the pre-cubed beef that is labeled as stewing beef. Since you have the option to braise the meat until it is nice and tender you go not really need to get an expensive cut of beef.
I love Japanese curry, and make it quite often, but I only ever make as much as I want for the meal.
You said you made large batches, how well does it keep? Do you freeze it or put it in the fridge? Also, is it just the curry sauce that you make in large batches, or is that the veg in it too?
Would appreciate any help you can give. =)
Lelith: I generally keep it in the fridge with everything including the vegetables and meat. It keeps really well in the fridge. In fact it gets better with age. You can just keep it in the pot and reheat it or separate it into containers with enough for a single serving. I usually finish the curry in the fridge within a week or two at most. I often take some of the sauce without the vegetables or meat and freeze it for use with tonkatsu some time later. The sauce keep well in the freezer.
i like japanese curry but the store bought curry blocks are chock full of msg
When I think curry, I immediately go to India, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. I need to think again. Thanks for the tip! You know I have to investigate now. : )
I love curry — could eat it 3 meals a day. Nearly all of the African and Asian countries serve SOME kind of curry and I never tire of it. This is great and I agree on this curry Roux. I use it too and it’s great. Cauliflower and garbanzo beans are also great in a veggie curry.
You have a nice collection of recipes here. Might even inspire the cook in me to come out again (he’s been in hiatus for quite a while now).
Do you think it’d be good if I put some tomatoes?
Jenn Sutherland says
Mmmmm…I really miss eating Japanese Kare – friends of ours got us hooked on the stuff many years ago, but when I went gluten-free, discovered that the Kare mixes are not, and I have not been able to perfect this style of curry on my own. I guess this gives me new inspiration to take a crack at it again!
Kevin, Thank you very much for introducing Japanese curry to the world!!
Japanese Curry with the wrong name (JAVA CURRY) really weird don’t you?
Alot of different ingredient between Javanese Kare with japanese kare, you should find it.
Err…no matter, it just a product name.
yum yum yum
This is great! Love the blog. Did you catch the recent article on Katsu curry in the NYT?
I ordered katsu recently at a little Japanese restaurant here in D.C., (Sakana) and really enjoyed it. It reminds me a lot of pork schnitzel with curry ketchup, a big Austrian/German thing.
Keep up the good blogging! I do some experimental cooking of my own over at http://www.culinspiration.com
In college I had many Japanese friends. One friend would always ask me what I’d like to eat and he’d always make this curry. It is so delicious. It would be nice if the recipe for making this curry from scratch was available. I avoid manufactured foods as much is possible. Perhaps in our healthier lifestyle a healthy version would come out.
I’m living in Nagasaki now, and on Tuesdays a Japanese friend comes over for dinner. This week’s was Japanese curry. YUM. Junko also adds でみぐらす(demi-glace?) sauce to her recipe, and it was really tasty.
Are Japanese curry packs easy to find in the US and Canada? (I’m beginning to forget what “regular” food is in the grocery stores in North America!)
Tracey: At first I could only find the curry packages in specialty import food stores but now I have been seeing them in larger regular grocery stores. I like the sound of addin demi-glace to the curry.
Indian Curry Recipes says
Japanese curry though very different from Indian curry is also very delicious. I make Japanese curry using S&B Curry Powder and it turns out very delicious. You can use roasted flour to make the curry sauce thicker if you desire.
How much beef broth am i suppose to add?
Anonymous: Just enough to cover the meat and vegetables in the pot.
Throw in a finely chopped, ripe mango at the same time as the apple, and this recipe is an absolute keeper. Yeah, I know, mango in Japanese curry? Not my idea (kudos to this restaurant, just around the corner from me: http://www.waraku.com.sg/docs/menu/curry/lnk/index.html), but it works really well with this recipe.
Kevin, keep up the good work. Gambarimasho!
Thanks for recipe. I thought the sweetness in Japanese curry came from tomato ketchup. Tasty, but a little too ketchupy. Now I’ll try apple, honey, and sweet potato. Keep up the food blogging!
Anonymous: I like the sound of adding mango. Look at all of the different kinds of curries on that menu. Thanks for the link. I am going to have to try making some of those.
Hi Kevin, i’m going to try and make this tonight. If i want to make a lot(approximately 10-12 servings?), how much more ingredients should i add? Like 3 times more from what you posted or is that too much?
Anonymous: I usually get 4-6 servings as seen in the picture from one batch so I would do 3 time the recipe to be on the safe side. Besides the leftovers only taste better with age and they make great lunches. The leftover also freeze well.
About the onions, is it better to chop them up finely or leave them in bigger pieces? I have cooked Japanese curry with the onions in bite size pieces for some people and they said that they would prefer if it was smaller. Does it make any difference?
Melvin: I enjoy it both with the onions chopped up really small and in large pieces. It depends on what mood that I am in when I am making the curry.
Is it possible to replace the beef & broth with other meats because a friend of mine can't eat beef?
Anonymous: Yes you can replace the beef and beef broth with other things. I have done it with chicken and chicken stock and an all vegetable version with vegetable stock.
Just spent the arvo prepping and cooking this, followed your recipe and… OMFG it is awesome. Not to difficult to make and tastes so good. I've just added a new meal to my repertoire. Thanks for the great directions, i'm gonna sit down and finish eating now.
Oh and Kevin, you are so right on it being even better as leftovers. Had it for lunch today at work & diner tonight, plus i've still got enough left for one more meal. Definately making this again.
Curry Love says
Kevin, don't give up on the idea of home made Roux. Due to the various ingredients used in the ready made store Roux, I can't use it :-(. I need to make my own. I tried to make my own Japanse Roux/Curry sauce but they don't come out well. The only site I found that contains curry roux recipe is http://japanesefood.about.com/od/curry/r/curryroux.htm Can you further investigate and see if home made Roux is feasible?
Never heard of sweet things on Kare before.
I love Japanese curry, too, but really want to learn to make it without the packaged roux. We have tried, but it just doesn't taste right. I also put sweet potato and apples in mine. But I leave the apples in chunks and add them near the end so they don't dissolve. Instant curry is also VERY popular in South Korea, and is often served with apple. Yum! Love your blog.
Inner Health and Wealth A.E. ~ No YoYo says
My Style of Japanese Curry after 10 years.
1. Add 1 pc grated/smashed so finely ripe sweet banana
2. Add Italian spices
3. Bay Leaf here would be optional.
The banana makes the curry thicker and on the sweeter side. sort of complext taste with the italian spices. ( That i use in italian cooking)
Awesome. Google led me to your blog and I am the better for it. Here's the meal this post inspired: http://madphysics.onsugar.com/5123971
This was a great recipe. Thank you for posting it, omitted the grated sweet potatoes (wasn't available,) bought the same JAVA curry but only used half the pack (1/2 pack with 3 cups of water), followed the same amount of meat and veg. I did add more cayenne pepper and ground cinnamon at the end. yummy!
I had this today, and later made curry bread from it. My family loved it. My dad asked, "why don't you make this every week?" It was very good, although I think I'll put less honey in it next time.
I *love* japanese curry. But whenever I make mine…it doesn't taste right. It doesn't even look right. I can't remember the brand right now. But do you add the whole box of curry roux?
Ericka: I have made it with both half and the full 7.8 ounce package and it works both ways. I often use the full package for a more intense flavour experience.
this blogger took your curry pic… and posted on her blog… maybe you wanna ask her to take it down…
Anyways… the blogger gave you credit for 'your curry pic' (ONLY after about a yr from her date of post).
Hmmmm she did almost immediately that after I left a comment stating she is kinda unethical to use ya pic. Thus she immediately posted she used ya curry pic cos she forgot to take her own curry pic…
Kev – I love your blog and have used a lot of your recipes. I discovered Japanese curry some years ago and I love it too. But…wow, have you ever checked out the sodium content of the roux? One package has over 4000mg of sodium! I still love it, but it's become a very occasional treat now.
For those wanting to try making their own curry roux, try the recipe here: http://www.eatdrinkonewoman.com/2007/03/wafuu_curry.php
Can I use curry pasta instead of curry roux?
Nao-chan: Do you mean curry paste? A quick search of the web revealed that some stores call the curry roux a curry paste.
Aww, that's great!
I was just uncertain, because the recipes mention box, and the curry paste I saw in the shop was not a box…
I recently returned from a study abroad trip in Japan and found myself missing the traditional Japanese Curry. I've tried several different recipes but none of them really lived up to the kind I had in Japan. Happily though after trying your I stand corrected! This curry is just as good, if not better, as the kind I know and love! Thanks!
i never thought of beef stock.i only used water.but i think that's a really good idea. to make it tastier
There's also another great brand called "Golden Curry"
is Japanese Kare different than Philipeno Kare. When it says Java on the package it means that it's from the island of Java.
Looks fantastic! I tried making it too! Here's my post about it. I'm going to try yours though, because yours looks better than mine!
You are from Toronto? I am from Victoria! I've followed your blog now! Looking forward to more!
Thank you so much for this recipee I've been looking for this for a long time! defenitely gonna make it now.
wow that's nice, we have curry also here in Philippines and I am curious about the curry of Japan, it looks so yummy.
Just so you know, the word you used, 'カレ' [彼 kare] means 'boyfriend' or the pronoun 'he'. Curry is 'カレー' [karee or karē].
I just found your blog.
House JAVA Curry Hot, my most favorite too! Yeah curry is definitely one of the national dish of Japan. I think we need to tell people around the world the fact that true Japanese national dish are curry, ramen and gyoza, not sushi, tempra and sukiyaki. These are also popular in Japan though.
Not related to you post, but I was so surporised that I found House was making Tofu when I moved to the US. For us House means curry and nothing else.
I love your curry pan too!
Love's Child says
I don't trust that the store packets don't have anything unsafe in them but Java was good the one time I tried it!
I make it from scratch, and make the curry roux myself – there are great websites out there and it's only ten minutes of extra work, all told!
Kendall Allen says
My room-mate was an exchange student from Japan, and she taught me how to make curry like this! She used Vermont Curry, but I have started using Golden Curry, as our market no longer sells the Vermont brand.
She and I used leftover grilled chicken for the meat, and I've made Tofu Curry as well. I made some last night, so today, I think I'll make some curry udon! ♥
philippines catering services says
Love the food! You’re amazing. This menu is fantastic, It sure will help everyone who’s looking for a perfect menu like this. Thank you for sharing this recipe.Keep posting!
Karen Ching says
Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’m excited to taste this Japanese curry. My auntie who’s in Japan always boast in how delicious Japanese curry is. I’m excited to have a taste of that!
This is outstanding! Thanks. Want to try it with shrimp now 🙂
Curious, why change the recipe now, instead of making a new page for this version of the recipe? Loved the old one, but I’ll give this new one a try.