Japanese Curry

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Verdict: This dish brings the complexity of a curry to the comfort of a stew. A perfect addition to your winter cooking rotation.

Curries are a mainstay in our house because they are healthy, easy to make, and complex in flavours. Although there are a few recipes that don’t include vegetables, curry recipes tend to fit the bill in healthiness and striking deliciousness. Curries are also very easy to make but can require more time to cook (with the exception of Thai curry). The extra wait is worth it though – over time, the spices and broth break down and dramatically change the cheapest cuts of meat into the most tender and flavourful morsels.

Caramelized onions

A new curry recipe can mean a new world of unfathomable flavour combinations. Each country and region has a unique take on curry, and so, preparing a curry from Japan one night, and one from India the next feels like an entirely new cooking experience. Often with curry recipes, the first time I try a curry recipe is the first time I eat that kind of recipe, for example, this Japanese curry.

Carrot and chicken thighs

I was intrigued by the use of garam masala which is usually associated with Indian cooking. A typical Indian version of garam masala includes peppercorns, cloves, cumin, cardamon, star anise and coriander seeds. I find garam masala softer and more wholesome than regular curry powders; it’s the cloves that warm up the recipe. The lack of chili powder also makes it milder and more approachable to eat. If the spice and heat experience in eating curry is like riding a bike, garam masala based curries are the bikes with training wheels while vindaloos are the down hilll mountain variety – best saved for the veterans or the adventurous. You won’t have to stray too far from your grocery routine for this recipe. You can find the garam masala in the international Foods aisle of your super market; you can make homemade garam masala as well. Use whole spices and grind them up in the mortar and pestle or food processor.

Crumbly roux Japanese curry roux with broth - voluptuous

During the cooking process, the carrots sweeten slightly, complimenting the garam masala’s clove and cardomon notes. The tender pieces of chicken are also a delight. The caramelized onions, hearty potato, and carrot result in a dish that looks like a stew with the surprising taste of a softly seasoned curry. We served this with brown rice and it was perfect for the minus 40 winter day, like curling up on the couch with a warm blanket and great book.

Hearty Japanese curry

I changed the recipe slightly to include seasoning the chicken before cooking, instead of adding the spices along with the broth. That way, the spices get toasted, which brings out their flavours and fragrances.

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Japanese Curry

Serves: 6 – 8 |Prep: 10 minutes |Cook: 1 hour

Note 1: I used ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and it was great.
Note 2: If serving with brown rice, begin recipe by cooking rice.

Ingredients

For the curry

  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 2 large onions sliced thin, circular rings
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (use 1 tsp if using table or sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 carrots cut into chunks
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1 small apple peeled cored and pureed (I used a Microplane)
  • 1/2 cup peas

For the roux

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala (or curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add less if you want it mild or more if you want it spicy)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons ketchup (or tomato paste)
  • 1 tablespoons tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)

Procedure
Note: If your stove and the prep area are close together, start on the onions and chop up the carrots, potatoes and apple while they caramelize. The 30 minutes will go by very quickly.

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté the onions until they are golden brown and caramelized (about 30 minutes, stir every 5 minutes or so). Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of garam masala and 2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Turn up the heat to HIGH, add the seasoned chicken, and brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the carrots and the stock, then bring to a boil. Skim off any foam or oil that accumulates at the surface. Lower heat to MEDIUM and add the potatoes and puréed apple. Simmer covered, for about 15 minutes or until you can pass a fork through the carrots and potatoes and the meat is tender.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the roux. Melt the butter over medium-low heat, add the flour and garam masala, stirring until you have a thick paste. Add the cayenne pepper and some fresh ground black pepper, incorporate into the roux. Add the ketchup and tonkatsu sauce and combine. Continue to cook until the paste starts crumbling. Remove from heat and set aside until the meat and veggies are ready.

4. To make the curry, ladle about 2 cups of liquid into the roux then whisk until it’s smooth. Pour this mixture back into the other pot and gently stir until thickened. Add the peas and heat through, about 2 minutes.

5. Serve over rice or noodles.

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