Japanese Curry from Scratch

Japanese Curry

Peter and I spent a few days in Japan earlier this month (photos coming soon!) and I completely fell in love with the country. English is not very common there, but everyone was super friendly and happy to help if they could. The cities were clean and beautiful and I loved how prominent tradition is within the culture. There was just something magical about the entire place.

One of the best parts of all? The food was spectacular!

There is so much variety in the flavors of Japanese food– from sashimi to yakitori, ramen to curry, the options seemed endless. Not to mention the desserts were amazing. I never overdue it on sweets usually, but in Japan I was scarfing down two ice creams a day on top of mochi and anything green tea flavored I could find. Everything we ate whether it was from a high end restaurant or a street food stall, was delicious.

Needless to say, I am itching for another visit to Japan soon.

Until then, I’ll be experimenting and exploring how to recreate some of the wonderful Japanese meals at home. The first recipe I’m going to share with you is one of Peter’s favorite Japanese dishes.

While many people opt to use ready-made Japanese curry mixes and powders, I knew I wanted to make Japanese curry from scratch and tackle this without any of the artificial ingredients or MSG. Although I’m not sensitive to MSG, I know many people are and it is often found in those flavored curry cubes.

Japanese Curry

The secret to really giving your curry robust flavor is in adding caramelized onions to your curry roux. And we’re not just talking, beautifully brown and fragrant onions, we’re talking caramelized into a paste that I didn’t even know onions could become– caramelized.

Japanese Curry

I started with three medium sized onions and by the time they were cooked down, I was left with about a fist-sized ball of onion paste. Here is a tutorial with photos showing you how to caramelize onions for curry. Mine took about an hour and were less beautiful than in the how-to but were still delicious.

Japanese Curry

It is a slow, slow process , but in the end I could really taste the depth of flavor this added to the curry. While it’s no replacement for actually being back in Japan, this wonderful curry recipe is sure to hold you and I both over until we can hop on the next plane there!

Japanese Curry

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes


Japanese Curry


    caramelized onions
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 large or 3 medium white onions, very thinly sliced
  • roux
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 4 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • curry
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 medium potato, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tbs curry powder (depending on spice level desired!)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (if you want it extra hot!)


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over low-medium heat
  2. Add in garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant
  3. Reduce heat to low
  4. Stir in onions
  5. Put lid on pot and cook until onions are a caramelized paste (approx 45-60 minutes)
  6. If onions begin to burn, add a small amount of water and stir stir stir
  7. In a separate pan (while onions are cooking), make your roux
  8. Melt butter over low-medium heat
  9. Spoon in flour and stir continuously until mixture becomes light brown (approx 20 minutes)
  10. Mix in curry powder until roux thickened, remove from heat
  11. When onions have become a paste, transfer roux into the pot with your onions
  12. Pour in chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, chicken, potatoes, and carrots
  13. Increase heat to medium
  14. Season with salt, curry powder as desired, and pepper to taste
  15. Mix well and bring entire pot to a simmer until chicken, potatoes and carrots are cooked through
  16. Serve hot over rice
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes

Are you on Pinterest? Use the image below to save this recipe for later
Japanese Curry from Scratch- Slowly caramelized onions, simmer with savory chicken, potatoes, and carrots for the perfect homemade curry


  1. Helen Williams says:

    I lived in Japan for eleven years and curry is one thing I missed the most ! I added honey and apple butter to this

      • Helen Williams says:

        It was such a delicious recipe though I admit I didn’t fry the onions for as long as recommended – added a desert spoon full of honey and apple butter half way through cooking , pinch of salt and pepper and it was so delicious !! Better than coco ichiban

Comments are closed.