Japanese curry served with rice and seaweed flakes
Food - Drink
The History Of Japanese Curry Rice
Indian Origins
Curry ended up in Japan via a roundabout journey through the UK. When the British colonized India, Brits returning home brought with them Indian “curry.”
"Curry" was a British term that generalized almost all Indian dishes, and the country went on to create its own Indian-inspired curries that are sweeter and thicker than the original.
Japanese Adaption
Although Japan is closer to India than the UK, Japanese curry rice more closely resembles British curry, with its thick texture and slightly sweet, savory flavor.
Japanese curry went through many variations before it became the dish it is today, and it quickly became popular for its easy prep, delicious taste, and nutrient-dense profile.
Making Curry Rice
Curry rice, or kare raisu, as it is phonetically known in Japan, is typically made using dry roux cubes dissolved in water or dashi to make a thick, flavorful stew.
Vegetables like peas, potatoes, and carrots, and meat like pork or chicken, are added, along with shaved apples which give the dish its customary notes of sweetness.
There are three main types of curry across Japan — spicy, medium, and mild — but beyond this, there are countless regional varieties that vary from the roux base to the added ingredients.
A common variety in Northern Japan is shika curry, made with deer meat, while in the South, you’ll find bitter melon curry; in Hiroshima, you’ll find decadent oyster curry.
Spices and Seasonings
Unlike Indian curry, Japanese curry is often considered neither very spicy nor spiced, but rather gets most of its flavor from roux cubes and curry powder.
The dish's use of curry powder exposes its origins and how different it is from Indian dishes since the spice blend is a British invention designed to emulate Indian flavors.