Nom Nom Tabemono / Uncategorized

Curry from Scratch

By Sohini Bandy
Nom Nom Tabemono Picture 2 (1)


About this dish: I love this recipe because it infuses the spices and smells that defined my childhood into a Japanese comfort food dish that I have come to love. Since this recipe enables you to make your own roux, it’s an added plus that you avoid the preservatives in the instant roux blocks while having control over the level of sweetness, saltiness and spiciness in your curry. Enjoy and feel free to customize this to your taste!

Difficulty level: medium

Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours

Serves: 8


  • 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (I saw some pork chunks in the supermarket that were specifically cut for curry, so that’s a convenient alternative)
  • 3 small-medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 cups (U.S. size, 240 ml) of water
  • 1 tbsp garam masala (if you can’t find garam masala, please use curry powder)
  • 1 small can of corn, or canned/frozen peas
  • salt to taste (at least 1 tbsp)
  • sugar/honey to taste (at least 1 tbsp)
  • To make the roux:
  • ¼ cup butter (60 ml; 4 tbsp)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp tonkatsu sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

Start by making your own homemade curry roux! The roux is what makes Japanese curries thicker than Indian curries.

  1. Put the butter and flour in a saucepan and cook on low heat. Use a spatula to move the mixture around, so it doesn’t burn onto the pan.
  2. When the mixture has turned a medium brown color (almost like a burnt orange), add the garam masala. Mix the spice into the mixture and toast it on the heat for about a minute. Stop when the mixture begins to sizzle for several seconds. This will unlock the flavor of the spice.
  3. Take the mixture off the heat. Add the ketchup and tonkatsu sauce and mix well. Set aside the roux for later
    Curry time!
  4. Peel the carrots, slice off the ends and cut them into evenly sized pieces. To do so, try a “cross-cut” – angle the knife away from you and cut into the carrot, rotating the carrot 90 degrees every time you cut.
  5. Add a tablespoon or so of oil to a medium sized pot, and begin to caramelize the onions on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Caramelizing the onions will help make the stew hearty and add sweetness to the meat. This will take around 20 minutes.
  6. When the onions have finished caramelizing (they’ll be a nice light brown color), add the meat to the center of the pot and sauté on medium heat until the pieces are browned and no longer pink.
  7. Add the carrots and 4 cups of water. This will give the carrots plenty of time to cook.
  8. Turn up the heat, put a lid on the pot and bring the curry to a boil. Some foam will rise to the top – if you would like, remove the foam with a strainer/skimmer.
  9. Turn the heat down and let the stock simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the potatoes.
  10. Add the sugar/honey to taste. Also, add the additional tablespoon of garam masala and the tablespoon of salt. Just add enough salt to flavor the meat, don’t overseason at this point.
  11. Let the mixture simmer at medium heat for half an hour. The trickiest part of this dish is getting the flavors just right, so please do a taste test after 15 minutes to check if the curry is too salty, too sweet, or too spicy. If too salty/spicy/sweet, remove some stock and add a little more water. If not salty/sweet/spicy enough, add more sugar/spice/salt! Remember you still have to add the flavorful roux into the mixture.
  12. After 30 minutes of simmering, check if the potatoes and carrots are soft. Do a final taste test. If everything is alright, add the roux and mix in carefully. Try not to break the potatoes and carrots while doing so. Keep the stew at a slow simmer on low heat so that the bottom of the pot does not burn.
  13. If you would like, add some peas/corn to the stew for color/variety of texture and let sit on the heat for five more minutes.
  14. And voila! You’ve created your own delicious masterpiece! Serve with rice and feel free to personalize it to your own taste (i.e. add garlic right before adding the meat, add some mushrooms with the meat, endless combinations!)

Nom Nom Tabemono Picture 1

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One thought on “Curry from Scratch

  1. Pingback: Issue #9 | Japan life in pictures and words

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