Japanese curry is sweet and mild, making it a perfect gateway version to introduce children and spice-shy adults to the delicious world of curries. This recipe makes for mouth-watering leftovers, too (though you may need to thin it out a touch with water when reheating as the sauce thickens with time). This Japanese chicken curry is so delicious and a major hit at our house.
Related: Our Top Make-Ahead Chicken Recipes
Many households make this dish using store-bought Japanese curry roux ‘bricks’ which are tasty and convenient. But you will see in this recipe that homemade roux is not difficult to make at all and nicely eschews all the additives in the purchased bricks. What’s great is you can scale up the roux recipe to keep a few portions on hand in the freezer — then defrost and use in the recipe just like you would the store-bought bricks.
You’ll see this recipe calls for the S&B brand of curry powder, which is a Japanese spice blend containing some of the usual suspects like turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, chili pepper, ginger, etc. plus mandarin orange peel which is perhaps a little bit different. It can be purchased at Japanese or other well-stocked East Asian supermarkets, as well as online. If you can’t source S&B specifically, substitute with your favourite mild curry powder blend and it will work well. Instant vegetarian kombu dashi powder is another very Japanese ingredient in this recipe. It is made from dried kelp (different from the standard version made with fish). It adds a uniquely Japanese flavour and umami to the curry that I love but is not an absolute must so I have listed it as optional.
Want more comforting dinner recipes? Check out satisfying slow cooker recipes that are perfect for any night of the week.
Season the chicken pieces with salt to taste and set aside.
For the curry roux: In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for about 15 minutes or until it has turned golden brown (but not very dark brown). Add curry spice and mix well. Cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat.
For the chicken curry: Heat a large Dutch-oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and brown chicken in 2-3 batches so as not to overcrowd the pot. Set aside.
Add a drizzle more oil, then add in the onions, carrots and potatoes. Season with salt to taste and sauté about 10 minutes. Add broth, dashi, grated apple and the reserved chicken.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Give it a taste and season with additional salt depending on salt content in your broth and your taste. Cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the grated apple has pretty much dissolved into the sauce. Check occasionally and skim off the scum on the surface and discard.
Add in the curry roux, soy sauce and mirin. If the curry roux hardened after cooling, scoop a ladle of sauce into the pot to thin it out enough to scoop. Simmer and stir until curry roux is completely incorporated with no lumps remaining. Taste and add honey as needed (how much honey is needed depends on your spice blend. I like adding 2-3 tablespoons to mellow out the slight bitter edge of the S&B curry powder). Simmer low uncovered for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve over steamed rice with a side of Japanese pickles.