Japanese Chicken Curry

Japanese Chicken Curry recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Japanese curry is the ultimate comfort dish. It’s thickened with a creamy mix of butter & flour. Sweetened with caramelized onions, freshly grated apple, and chunks of carrot. And spiced with a rich blend of warming curry flavors like cumin & cardamom, and bay leaf & clove. The latter giving the curry its distinctly stew-like aroma and taste.

That’s homemade Japanese curry.  And like all curries, it’s best made from scratch.

Japanese Chicken Curry by SeasonWithSpice.com

I was first introduced to the alternative – boxed Japanese curry sauce – by two Japanese friends when I visited them at their University in Osaka many years ago. It was late the first night, so we walked over to 7-Eleven (a Japanese institution), picked up the boxed sauce, went back to the dorm, heated it up, and ate it with rice. It had that familiar stew aroma. But it was over spiced and over salted, with a very glutinous texture. It was dorm food, I thought at the time, and pretty tasty for a late night meal.

Looking now at the long list of ingredients - including MSG, palm oil, artificial flavors and preservatives – my initial thoughts of the boxed sauce made complete sense.

It wasn’t until Reese & I started cooking up Japanese curry at home – using only natural ingredients and our special blend of Japanese curry powder – that we truly appreciated this popular Japanese dish.

Japanese Curry Powder available at SeasonWithSpice.com

Our new, handcrafted Japanese Curry Powder is a balance of warm, sweet, peppery flavors. Coriander, cumin, and turmeric form the base. Then black pepper and chili for a mild heat. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, and a few more spices to sweeten the aroma. And finally, and most importantly, bay leaf & thyme to bring depth and warmth to the blend.

Japanese curry powder available at SeasonWithSpice.com

Japanese curry really is a spiced stew. It’s thick and sweet, and hearty with chunks of potatoes & carrots, and beef or chicken. The curry is usually eaten with rice, but also enjoyed mixed with udon noodles, or baked inside a pastry for a delicious Japanese curry puff. If the traditional side of rice isn’t enough to fill you up, you can also have the curry with a crunchy, fried pork cutlet (katsu-karē).
Our favorite is a quicker, homemade version made with chicken thigh. The dark meat not only stays juicy, but also gives the curry a deeper umami flavor.

Japanese Chicken Curry recipe from scratch by SeasonWithSpice.com

Try our handcrafted Japanese curry powder in this recipe for Japanese Chicken Curry. It’s fun on a late afternoon on the weekend, when you have time to cook each ingredient slowly to mingle the flavors until they combine into the perfect pot of curry.

Or simply use the Japanese curry powder just as you would use any curry powder - try it in rice dishes, soups, and on roasted meats & vegetables.

How to make japanese chicken curry from scratch recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Japanese Chicken Curry Recipe
by Season With Spice
Serves 4

1 - 1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs – trim off any excess fat, cut into bite sized chunks, and season with salt & pepper
2 tablespoon oil
1 large yellow onion – thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves – minced or grated
1 tbsp freshly minced ginger (optional)
4 cups chicken broth
2 medium sized carrots – cut into chunks
1 sweet apple (try Fuji or Gala) – peeled
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
1 large or 2 medium potatoes – cut into 1 to 1.5 inch chunks
1 tbsp honey, or more to taste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce/tamari
1.5 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup

To make the curry roux:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 tbsp flour
2 tbsp of Season with Spice’s Japanese Curry Powder

1. In a bowl, soak the potato chunks in cold, salted water (while preparing your other ingredients). This will help to remove excess starch, and prevent the potatoes from browning.
2. In a heavy bottom pot, or large, deep skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil until hot. Add in the chicken, and spread out in a single layer. Sear to brown the chicken before flipping over to sear the other side. When the pieces are nicely browned, transfer them to a bowl, and set aside.
3. Swirl in another tablespoon of oil into the same pot, and add in onion. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are softened. Add in small splashes of water if it gets too dry. Cook for about 10 minutes. [If you have the time, keep cooking the onions for another 10 minutes or so, to really soften and caramelize them]
4. Add in the garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute until fragrant. Then add in the carrots and sauté for another minute.
5. Return the chicken to the pot, and add in the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil over high heat, and then reduce it to a simmer.
6. Grate the peeled apple over the curry. Then add in the salt, stir well, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Drain the salt water from the bowl of potatoes. Then add the potatoes into the curry, cover the pot, and simmer until potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes).
8. While the curry is simmering, take out a small saucepan. Add in the butter and heat over medium. Once the butter begins to melt, add in the flour to make the roux. Use a spatula to mix constantly until no lumps remain. Once the roux starts to bubble and turn light brown, add in our Japanese Curry Powder. Mix well, so the roux forms into a thick curry paste. Just heat for a moment to allow the spices to roast and release more aroma & flavor. Remove from heat.
9. Add the roux into the curry. Stir well to combine. Add in honey, Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce), and tomato paste. Taste, and adjust any seasonings or liquid. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the curry thickens to a stew-like consistency.
10. Serve the curry with Japanese rice or brown rice.

1. You can also add in other vegetables such as sweet peas, daikon, or turnips.
2. The curry can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a month.