Joshua (my 7 year old), waltzes through door fresh from the bus stop, tosses his backpack on the floor and exclaims, “What’s for dinner tonight?! Is it time to eat?!“ Nothing like the delicious scent of curry cooking to make a belly growl. It totally makes my day. I hope you get the same reaction when you make this for dinner tonight. (Do it!)
This Japanese chicken curry is perfect for a quick dinner on a weeknight when you’ve less than an hour to throw it together (versus a beef curry which takes longer). I also love that it’s a one pot meal (not including rice). Japanese curry is more sweet than other curries (Indian, for example), and has a thicker consistency than Thai curry. It’s a perfect homey comfort food for any night of the week. (But especially when it’s cold outside and the temperatures are dropping!)
Just One Cookbook is one of the authorities on Japanese cooking. I’ve been using Namiko Chen’s Japanese curry recipe for years! Over time I’ve basically stuck with her original recipe, but have made some adjustments based on preference (I prefer larger quantities, mushrooms, and I like a thicker sauce vs more watery).
Is it Kid-Friendly?
All of the kids enjoy this because it’s not spicy, and has a hint of honey sweetness. Be sure to use chicken thighs vs chicken breasts, because breasts can be easily overcooked and dry. Thigh meat, on the other hand, will stay nice and tender despite the simmering. I serve this with a side of salad or green beans to get in some extra veggies. I love that my 2 year old can easily eat the bite-sized chicken and that the carrots and potatoes are soft enough for her.
Kids in the Kitchen
Another cool thing? Natalie (my 5 year old) helped me peel all the carrots and potatoes for the curry. When the kids were younger it was way more work for me when they “helped” in the kitchen. But now the kids are getting old enough to actually help.
I love it that the kids are more excited and willing to try new things when they help me in the kitchen, and it turns out kids eat better when they cook what they eat. It’s even better when they grocery shop with me and decide what to make (but then again, I don’t always like relinquishing that control. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.)
Is it IBS Friendly?
If you have a sensitive stomach, you can reduce the onion and garlic to fit your tolerance. Instead of using white onions, I would replace them with 2 stalks of celery and add a bunch of green onions at the end. (Green onions are much easier to tolerate than white onions.)
If you’re trying to be free of any processed foods, you can make your own roux from scratch. Or skip the roux altogether, up the curry powder by another tablespoon, and thicken your curry with gluten free sorghum flour at the end.
Mix 1/4 cup sorghum with water until it becomes a paste, and add it to the curry. You can keep adding the flour paste until you like the consistency (for me it took about 1/2 a cup of sorghum flour). I did this when on my elimination diet and it worked well.
Prep the ingredients:
Chunk the onion, mince the garlic, grate the ginger. Peel/chop the carrot chunks, potato chunks, mushrooms, and wash/cut up the chicken into bite size pieces (I also take off the extra fat, but it’s a bit more work.)
Sauté the Ingredients
To release the flavor of the veggies, sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger, until the onions are translucent. I like to add some salt and pepper to season them along. Then I add the chicken pieces with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until most of the pink is gone.
Add the other sauce ingredients and turn the heat to medium to simmer ingredients: water, soy sauce, tomato paste, and curry powder.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes and skim off the fat and skum that rises to the top (like a bubbly film that forms when the meat cooks)
Add the rest of the vegetables: carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and simmer another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft (but don’t overdo it or they’ll be come mushy!)
When the curry is just about ready, add the boxed curry roux (I use only 3 cubes from the box, because I don’t want too many processed ingredients and because I think the curry is more complex without the boxed flavor). But feel free to add as many cubes as your prefer.
Stir until the roux has melted and is combined into the sauce. Then your curry is ready to serve!
Japanese Chicken Curry
Chicken thighs, carrots, onions, mushrooms and potatoes in a Japanese curry
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 people
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1.5-2 pounds chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tbspn grated ginger
- 1 large chunked onion
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 2 tbspn tomato paste
- 2 cups chunked carrots (about 3-4 carrots)
- 8 mushrooms (optional)
- 3 small chunked potatoes any potato is fine
- 3-4 cups water enough to just cover the ingredients
- 3-5 cubes boxed curry roux add to taste preference. I usually add 3-4 cubes until I get the flavor & consistency I like.
Mince the garlic, ginger. Cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces (and trim fat), sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on them. Peel and chop the onion, carrots and potatoes into bite-sized chunks, slice the mushrooms.
Add the oil to the pot and saute the onion, garlic and ginger so they release flavor. After 1-2 minutes, add the chicken and cook until most of the pink is gone (about 10 minutes).
Add the tomato paste, soy sauce, curry powder, and water. Cover the pot and simmer on low-medium heat. You can skim any skum or fat that rises to the top. (10-15 minutes).
Add the carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Simmer on medium low heat until just cooked through. (10-15 minutes).
Add the curry roux, and turn the heat to low. Stir in the roux until it dissolves into the rest of the curry (3 min). Then it's ready to serve! It tastes best served on top of rice.