What Does Japanese Curry Taste Like?

In this article, we'll explore Japanese curry and tell you everything you need to know about the taste and texture, how it's different from Indian curry and, of course, the best ways to enjoy it.

Japanese curry with rice carrots and onions

Let's dive in...

What Does Japanese Curry Taste Like? 

Japanese curry is savory and mildly hot with a plethora of spices. It has bold flavors from garam masala, including cumin, cloves and cardamom and a touch of spice from ginger and black pepper. Usually, there's also salty, umami-rich soy sauce or tamari.

The experience of Japanese curry is in some ways like that of Indian curry, and we'll get into more detail about the differences below. Suffice it to say, Japanese curry has a flavor all its own.

Japanese Curry Texture 

While Thai and Indian curries are creamy, Japanese curries are more like stew. They're often thicker than Thai curries, but their richness is not the same as there does not tend to be coconut milk in them.

Another thing that makes Japanese curry stew-like is that there are hunks of vegetables, including carrots and potatoes, and bits of meat.

Though Japenese curry is not traditionally vegan, it's totally veganizable, and we'll show you how to make it below.

What Is Japanese Curry Made Of? 

The basic ingredients of Japanese curry involve beef, vegetables, garlic, Indian curry spices like garam masala and curry powder, soy sauce or a similar condiment, sweetener and sometimes apple.

To make vegan Japanese curry, you could use a mock meat or tofu or just go with the hearty veggies. Adding grated apple will make it sweeter while using fresh ginger will spice it up.

What Is the Difference Between Indian and Japanese Curry? 

The level of heat is one of the things that separates these curries with Indian curry being the hotter of the two. Indian curry also frequently contains yogurt or coconut milk, which you won't find in a typical Japanese curry.

Differences in ingredients abound in the preparation of these dishes. Indian curry may lean toward bright and tart flavors like cilantro, lemon and yogurt while Japanese curries opt for sweeter and saltier flavors from soy sauce and fruit.

How to Make Vegan Japanese Curry 

Even in non-vegan Japanese curries, there are several variations that will slightly change the flavor balance. We'll show you a couple of different ways to make it so you can see which one you prefer.

This recipe includes cocoa powder, which adds incredible depth. (Tip: adding cocoa powder to vegan chili will do the same thing.)

Here's what you need for this curry:

  • Vegan butter
  • Flour
  • Curry powder
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Cooking oil
  • Apple or applesauce
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Vegan tonkatsu or barbecue sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Cocoa powder
  • Salt
  • Vegetable stock
  • Chickpeas
  • Frozen peas
  • Garam masala
  • Sugar

Here's a recipe for a Japanese curry with some pickled vegetables for a tangy twist. 

Here's what's in it:

  • Cooking oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Flour
  • Garam masala or Japanese curry powder
  • Turmeric
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Tomato paste or ketchup
  • Vegan Worcestershire or tamari
  • Salt
  • Apple or applesauce
  • Peas
  • Scallions
  • Pickled radish
  • Pickled ginger

Wrap Up

You may be tempted to compare Japanese curry to Indian and Thai curries, but it's very much a unique dish. It's deeply savory and comparable to a stew with spice. Though the traditional meal is prepared with meat, vegan versions are scrumptious and perfect for hunkering down on a chilly winter night.


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