Japanese Curry Rice Recipe (video)

Curry Rice made from scratch - Japanese Curry

One of the great things about cooking without recipes is it leaves you free to add different ingredients and experiment, this keeps an old favourite new and interesting even after you’ve had it for the umpteenth time. Some might call this inconsistency, but for me there’s no such thing as a “best recipe”, because my tastes shift with the seasons and my mood.

Curry rice is Japan’s quintessential comfort food, much like mac & cheese is here in the States. While it’s not native to Japanese cuisine, it’s been ruminating in the bowels of Japan’s gastronomic landscape for the better part of the past century and it’s become one of the most popular foods there. It’s become so ubiquitous, people don’t find anything usual about a softdrink company releasing a curry flavoured soda.

Curry Rice ingredients

Growing up, I had curry rice a couple times a month and I still make it more frequently that just about any other dish in my repertoire. I first posted about it almost 2 years ago. But that was one static snapshot of a dish that’s always changing in my kitchen. In this version I took the roux much darker which gives it a rich earthy flavour, I also made it a little sweeter, and added a black cardamom pod for it’s wonderful smokey aroma.

Check out the video for the full recipe below. If you’re ready for your own recipe-less adventure, my notes below should get you started in the right direction.

Japanese Curry Recipe Notes

I used 3 onions that have been caramelized, but you can also add garlic, ginger, and celery if you like.

You can use just about any kind of meat or seafood. 2-3 lbs is just about the right amount. If you use seafood, it’s best to brown the seafood first and then set it aside until the veggies are done and you’re ready to serve the curry. If don’t do meat or seafood, you could use firm tofu as well.

The curry takes some sweetness from the caramelized onions and carrots, but we also layer on additional sweetness with a whole grated apple, some tonkatsu sauce, and ketchup. I’ve seen some people put raisins in their curry, but this is a little over the top for me.

The dark roux serves to thicken and flavour the curry with some toasted garam masala, and the flavours of the browned butter and flour. Adding some extra garam masala to the meat and veggies when you add the water infuses extra flavour while everything cooks. I’ve chosen to add some black cardamom to this as well, but this is not traditionally added to Japanese curry. If you like it hot, add some cayenne pepper.

Everything Else
Carrots, potatoes and peas round our the curry, adding both color and substance. These are the traditional ingredients, but you can really add any kind of veggie that will hold up to the long cooking, such as mushrooms, parsnips, celery root, turnips, and corn.

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    The flavor profile is described beautifully, and I can imagine the caramelized onion! Love this. I shot my first video today, yikes I need to watch yours and learn, boy was it hard. Hey also I am creating a new site with wordpress, I read that post, but any advise please email me elizabeth@cookappeeal.com I appreciate it Marc! Great video and recipe!

  • http://www.nibbleanibble.com/ Dave

    Curry is amazing. When I say curry, I mean any kind…Chinese, Japanese, Indian, whatever…They are all good.

    From my experience, Japanese curry is usually not as spicy compared to other kinds but still good. Curry goes really well with fried pork cutlet!

  • http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com/ Ju (The Little Teochew)

    My god, Marc. You have a cooking show!!! This is brilliant! The curry looks amazing.

  • http://bridezillabakes.wordpress.com/ Bethany

    We LOVE japanese curry in our house — never used black cardamom though! Agreed on the raisins…. too much of the wrong texture texture for too little payoff in terms of sweetness. this is a dish my husband usually takes over — can't wait to show him your video!

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    I love Japanese curry! I usually have mine with a crumbed chicken or pork cutlet…thanks for setting us in the right direction with another of your great videos Marc!

  • http://twitter.com/JanBenn Jan Bennett

    Sadly the video isn't showing up for me (just a big white space where I think the video should be) I've tried Firefox and IE……
    I'll pop back later as hoefully i'ts just this PC. I love the look of this curry Marc!

  • cjoni

    Have I told you that the Filipino Kare-Kare might have come from curry? The substitution for ingredients that couldn't be found locally must have changed it so much that it is almost unrecognizable.

  • http://twitter.com/SheSimmers Leela

    Yay! I'm finally freed from the tyranny of the boxed curry cubes. Great video, Marc.

  • http://kyotofoodie.com/ Michael [KyotoFoodie]

    Wow Mark, you are awesome on your video! I mean, seriously, I think you should not be in NYC but Hollywood. Dang!

    Once again you inspire me. I want to make some ASAP — with wagyu, maybe wagyu tendon.


  • norecipes

    Hi Jan, thanks for bringing this to my attention, can you try clicking the link to view the video directly on YouTube and let me know what happens? Thanks

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Thanks for the (non)recipe Marc! Curry of all kinds, I love — but there'll always be a special place in my tummy for Japanese curry!

  • zenchef

    Does that mean i won't have to buy the packaged Japanese curry sauce at Mitsuwa anymore? :) Marc, i love the video! I can tell you're getting good at this gig because you got me craving big time. I love Japanese curry.

    What's under that upside down mixing bowl in your refrigerator? I'm curious. lol

  • http://twitter.com/French_Cooking FrenchCookg4Dummies

    Great video! I've never tried Japanese curry, now I know what to look for next time I stop by my Japanese grocery store. Thanks :)

  • Carrie

    I LOVEEE Japanese curry so am glad you made it so easy here!

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com/ elra

    I always wondering about Japanese curry, I never really made it from scratch. Every time I miss this curry, I would make it at home, BUT embarrass to admit that I bought the Japanese curry mix from package (you know, one of those Golden curry brand?). I first tasted this delicious curry way back when I was working in Jakarta, and hook right away. Thanks to you, I don't have to buy the mix anymore, the video is great helps too. Love the way you cut the carrots. You seem very comfortable in front of camera, have you thought about hosting your own show?

  • norecipes

    Thanks Elra:-) Don't feel too embarrassed, almost all Japanese people
    in Japan use those blocks of instant curry, the ones that don't are
    using pre-made pouches of curry that you just have to warm up. I've
    never heard of anyone making their own from scratch, which is kind of
    mind boggling to me because it's not all that hard to make, and you
    can adjust the sweetness/spiciness to suit your tastes.

  • norecipes

    Hahaha, that was a dacquoise that L made over the weekend. We don't
    actually have a cake dome, so it was an improvised lid.

  • carolynjung

    This is one of my Japanese-American husband's favorite meals. I'm sure he'd scarf up your version, too. As for the curry soda, though? I know he would take a pass on that. I might try a sip, though, as I did find the green curry banana bread at Momofuku Milk Bar quite tasty. 😉

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    This has so got to be one of my favourite dishes of all time, and my younger sister's too. When it's rainy and just a little bit grey, our eyes light up and it's katsu curry time! 😀 Just looking at this post makes me shiver with hunger. Yum!

  • http://www.theediblelibrary.com/ meaghan

    Nice video!
    Your instructions look foolproof. I have new hope for the possibilities of Japanese curry without boxed roux. I’ve tried other recipes for it, but the results were not pretty, and I see that we were missing a lot of key elements such as sweetness, fat, flavour, etc. :)
    Thanks so much, can’t wait to try it.

  • http://twitter.com/JanBenn Jan Bennett

    Clicking on the link still doesn't work – it comes up with error code 404 –
    BUT the video you've put on today works and is fantastic!!!

  • Marc B

    Finally, the 4th time around, and I am truly satisfied with how it turned out….YUM! I’ve had it plenty of times elsewhere, and the dish is so specific in flavor that I feel I have a bit of experience to compare to my attempt(s). I really just had trouble with scaling down proportions (such a noob mistake:D ) since I only cooking for myself. Anyways, thank you so much for the recipe, this dish is probably the most difficult of attempts at cooking I’ve taken, just based on the complexity of making a roux and transferring fluids and such. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.crumpledbow.com/ Julie

    wow. you use roux to make your curry? that’s very different from how we Malaysians prepare our curry. but having said that, it still looks delicious. great pictures.

  • http://twitter.com/JanBenn Jan Bennett

    Ha ha – it now works!!!!! Yay! Great video!

  • http://twitter.com/Joyzhang516 Joy Zhang

    I am liking the video lots and Japanese curry is my favorite!! I never knew how to make it so I'd buy those premade cubes but I always thought they tasted a little off…so thanks for sharing this :) can't wait to try it!

  • Walter

    We made this last night, it came out delicious. Thanks for the not-a-recipe :)

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.com/ Divina

    I love Japanese curry and I still do have those curry boxes in my fridge. :) I'll try this soon.

  • Pam

    Beyond sake or beer, any rec's for wine with Japanese curry?


  • norecipes

    Japanese curry is on the sweet side and can be spicy, so I would
    recommend something like an off-dry riesling. I hope that helps!

  • http://appetiteforgood.com patrick

    Man this looks so delicious. I love the easy step by step video! makes it so simple and easy to follow!

    have you ever thought about making an update video. I like this curry a lot but I have never been able to replicate or determine how GoGo Curry makes their curry. Is it with a beef broth? and pork? They use a really thick rue too. mmmm

    teach us how to make a GoGo Curry imitation with NO RECIPES :)

  • darlene

    I tried this recipe tonight for my friend and we absolutely LOVED it! It tastes so much better than the boxed kind and you're right, it doesn't take much longer to make it from scratch. Can't wait to try it again! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Nebbie

    I'm so glad I found this blog! I normally avoid lots of recipes just because they seem to make things more complicated than they should be. Even though I've grown up on curry, I've never had Japanese curry (only ever Bengali) so I'm very excited to try it :) I can tell your “no recipe” is delicious just from looking at your ingredients and method though, and I'm excited to try it soon!

  • Raina

    I have tried your recipes (though I find myself use more water – around 6 cups instead), it was so yummy!!!! It's the best of all of my curry I have tried so far… >____< Light & have the fresh taste (of the apple).

    I heard in Japan, people actually put in yogurt, or coffee in the curry (as secret ingredients). Do you know how the taste would turn out? I also watch a Jap. drama, where they actually crack an egg on top of the curry/rice plate before they eat. Oishii desu!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arkonites-Bento-Box/100001245141514 Arkonites Bento Box

    Mmmmmm, can't wait to try this recipe!!

  • Meow

    Hi is there any way I can use oilve oil instead of butter?

  • norecipes

    Olive oil can have a strong taste that will effect the flavor of the curry.
    If you don't want to use butter, use a neutral vegetable oil like canola

    • LeoH

      Hi Marc,  How bout margarine?

      • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

        Margarine should work, but if you’re avoiding butter because of the
        saturated fat, make sure you find a margarine with no trans fats otherwise
        you might be doing more harm than good.

    • LeoH

      Hi Marc,  How bout margarine?

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  • Geust

    I have heard of using things like cocoa and coffee to add more depth. Are there other things that could be added and when in the process do I add these things?

  • norecipes

    I love adding dark chocolate to it right before serving, it adds fat and
    nutty aroma that makes the curry rich. You can also add other fruit like
    banana, peach, or tomatoes to add more acidity and sweetness. I also like
    putting plain yogurt in it sometimes, it takes the edge off the spices and
    gives it a creamy quality. Hope that helps give you some ideas:-)

  • Kristine

    Thank you! Thank you! We live in Okinawa and love Japanese curry. We are so afraid of the withdrawals that are bound to happen when we leave Japan so maybe I can get this recipe down before then.

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  • Marniecbell

    Hi Marc,

    Just wanted to say thanks heaps for the curry rice recipe – I missed it from my travels in Japan and the ready-made ones are no substitute for making it yourself. My partner and I were blown away by how tasty it was 😀

    We added a little togarishi spice to the roux to make it a little spicer.

    Thanks again!

    – Marnie, Melbourne Australia

  • Mary

    I have some wheat intolerant relatives so I used rice flour instead in the recipe and it worked out wonderful. Now we need a recipe for those red pickle things that went on the curry when we were in Japan.

    • Anonymous

      Fukushin-zuke. I’ve never tried making it at home, but it involves sun
      dried daikon, cucumbers, etc with kombu, red shiso lots of sugar and

  • Diny

    I just tried this recipe and it turned out lovely. Thanks for sharing!!!

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  • BD1864

    I spent a couple of years in Japan and a Japanese friend would always make the best curry. Over the years I have made several attempts to duplicate her recipe but have always failed, until now. Your recipe is exactly as I remember hers. This recipe has reignited my taste buds and has brought back some great memories.
    Tonight I am a happy man.

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  • Aaa

    I hate when people shake their head like idiots when tasting something, and i hate when people talk with their hands, when you make tasty food you jump and eat it.

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  • Gayle

    This is such an amazing video.  Precise, clear, with great tips!  What I really like is the presentation as well – the photos, the words used and even how your kitchen looks!  I do find it time consuming to cook this as compared to just using the ready made S & B or House brand japanese curry roux.  But I feel reassured knowing that when I serve my kids this dish it has ingredients that I’m aware of and there’s no MSG or artificial flavouring or what not.  Thanks so much for this.

  • Seversonsrlds

    I just got home today from visiting Japan  and I’m craving curry rice. This video is wonderful!!!  I’m going to try it tomorrow. Thanks!!!

  • foodies

    I tried this recipe last night and it turned out really good.  I deemed it worthy for company…

  • Kuro Tenshi

    Man… That looks delicious bro! My family sucks :( All they make is rice and chicken! So their only ingredients we have at the house are rice,chicken, and oil! T.T How am I supposed to make curry without any ingredients!! If only I had money and lived next to the supermarket =|

    -Sad and Hungry for Curry Kid

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  • Jeannie

    Thanks for sharing the video! I made this yesterday and it turned out great. Didn’t get the funny greasy coating or feel awful about eating something containing MSG afterwards. Now, who to give my S&B curry cubes to …

  • Tonnsg

    Hi! Your recipes are amazing! This is such a great site, thanks :) 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.zevallos Kathleen Zevallos

    I just wanted to say that this curry was a big success. My sister and I loved, loved LOVED it! Thanks so much for the tips and for just coming up with a marvelous recipe. Will be added to my recipe book.

  • Lee

    This recipe and your honey-ginger chicken have become go-to staples in my kitchen because they’re economical and deliver a lot of taste with few ingredients. A lot of the recipes on the site, though, are out of reach because I’m not very well-off financially. Have you ever considered making a “Budget” category for the site?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Lee, thanks for the note. Having a budget category is a great idea, but the trouble is that what’s economical in one region of the world costs a fortune in another. For instance, I use chicken thigh meat a lot in my recipes which also happens to be cheaper than other cuts of chicken in the US, but in Asia, breast meat is much cheaper than thigh meat.

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  • James Park

    Hi can I substitue the flour with cornstarch when making the curry roux? Thanks.

  • ann kelly

    this is one of the best cooking videos i have ever seen. i will be making this dish for the superbowl today, i cant wait to taste it!

  • Alana Malia

    Oishikatta!! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. Always wanted to make homemade kare raisu (bc I hate all the msg and other chemicals in the cubes you buy at the store), and this came out great! Arigato!

  • Sihem Aiden

    One of the best Curry Rice recipes I’ve ever tried and first time making it from scratch & that my first attempt turned out really good & delicious (All my family enjoyed it…^^…)…Thank you for a great recipe…:)…

  • donnataj

    Made this recipe yesterday and it is the best curry rice I’ve eaten. I will never use another curry cube again.

  • Steph

    This was excellent! Made it tonight for three. I didn’t have carrots so I subbed red bell pepper for color. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Caron

    We have been using the Vermont curry mix for years, but my daughter has recently had to give up gluten and it has wheat flour in it. We tried this recipe using almond flour and had great success. It is super delicious and we loved the heat from the cayenne pepper. Thanks for a great recipe that we will enjoy time after time. :)

    Oh yes, we used a half pound of lean hamburger as we’ve always used that with the mix and it was super delicious.

  • Ann

    I’m surprised by how many recipes found for Japanese curry is made with those awful curry blocks! Thank you for helping me end my search.

    P.S. You are very brave for wearing a white shirt while cooking/ eating curry.

  • JME

    Please make more cooking video… It’s easier to follow. Thank you!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi JME, that’s easier said than done. Videos take about a half-day of filming and another day of editing, and that’s on top of the few days I spend creating and testing a recipe. If you’re offering your videography talents for free, I’d happy to do more videos:-)

  • KB

    I know this is an older post, but I made this on Sunday and it is delicious. Perfect for the cold winter days. This is one of my favorite things to eat, and this recipe is the best version of it. The chicken thighs were perfectly tender and the flavor was rich and tasty. I didn’t have tonkatsu sauce, so I resorted to a mix of okonomiyaki sauce (roughly 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespooon worcestershire sauce) and it worked out. Thank you so much.

  • KB

    Thanks for the video. I was replaying the steps on my iPad while I was cooking. It was the next best thing to having a cooking lesson. Gotta love technology.


    How many will this recipe feed ? I d like to make it for 50 people … Thank you !

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Ama Deus, this will feed 4-6 people depending on how hungry the people are.



  • Gordon Szeto

    Mark, thanks for the fantastic recipe. I am so used to the packaged curries that I never thought about making my own until I found your recipe. Easy and great results!

  • KW

    Can I ask – why do you use water instead of stock? Wouldn’t you get more flavor from stock?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi KW, you could certainly use stock, but it’s not necessary because the caramelized onions, vegetables and chicken in this produce their own stock.

      • KW

        In terms of method, does that mean that the browning of the chicken before adding water is essential to the “stock”? Or can you throw in the chicken after the water?

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          Hi KW, you brown the chicken because the Maillard Reaction that occurs as the chicken browns creates thousands of new flavor compounds that increases the umami in the chicken. If you add the chicken to the water the Maillard reaction will not occur since it requires higher temperatures than you can achieve with water. While you could certainly add the chicken to the water, it’s going to taste much more bland than if you brown it first.

  • Angie

    I once lived with a girl who spent a year or so living in Japan. She made a japanese curry rice at home out of a packet. I loved it so much and told her I was going to make it the next time we had a roommate dinner. I found this recipe and made it from scratch. I remember her telling me it was “very ambitious” of me because “even in Japan, they use the packet.” I have to say, not only did I feel an insane amount of success nailing this recipe, but it has now become a staple in my house.
    Also: I sometimes substitute corn starch in the roux so my friends with Celiac’s can join in on the yums.

    Thank you for this recipe!


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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