Japanese curry (or kare, as it’s called in Japan) is one of the nation’s most popular convenience and comfort foods. Most renditions come straight from a package, but by making it from scratch at home, you can get better, fresher, and bolder spice flavors throughout. This recipe captures a classic Japanese curry, complete with juicy pieces of chicken, tender nubbins of carrot, sweet peas, and silky chunks of potato, but it’s seasoned with a homemade spice blend that’s way better than what comes out of a tin. Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your own tastes—that’s half the fun.
For the Curry Spice Blend:
For the Stew:
For the Curry Spice Blend: In a spice grinder, combine coriander, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, black peppercorns, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and orange peel (if using) and grind to a fine powder. Empty into a small bowl and combine with turmeric, chili powder, and nutmeg, then set aside.
For the Stew: Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken and cook, turning, until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add onion to Dutch oven, lower heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and cook for 4 minutes. Add chicken stock and dashi and bring to a simmer over high heat; reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
Cut up chicken into bite-size pieces and add back to pot, along with any accumulated juices. Add potatoes and apple and cook at a gentle simmer until potatoes are tender and carrots can easily be pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until foaming. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, until roux is a deep caramel brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in ginger and 3 tablespoons (25g) Curry Spice Blend and cook for 1 minute.
Scrape roux into stew pot, stir well, and simmer until broth has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in peas, if using, and cook until heated through. Serve curry with cooked rice and pickled ginger and/or rakkyo.