As you see in the photo above, when I attended local, public Japanese school in the late 1950s to early 1960s, my class was one of 12 1st-grader classes, with 60 students each (speaking of baby-boomers). Four of my classmates were absent on the photo day. We did not take lunch to school. Lunch was provided/served, based on a law passed due to many undernourished students, as a result of the level of poverty after the World War II (1945). For the children who could not afford it, lunch was free. For children who could, the fee was 300 yen/US$3 a month for 26 lunches (we went to school 6 days a week).
The food would be brought in from the school kitchen in several big buckets with lids. Every day, we were served milk in a small metal bowl and a piece of bread (thick white sandwich, or occasional sweet bun) in a metal plate. In the 1950s, rice was not served at schools, I think because it was too expensive. We had another larger metal bowl in which we were served a cooked, savory item of the day. Only spoons were provided, and we were instructed to drink our milk with a spoon and not to take sips from the bowl. The favorite cooked savory dishes were: karē (curry, this post), korokke (Japanese croquette), nikujaga (meat and potato), kinpira gobo (braised burdock root and carrots), tonjiru (miso soup with pork meat, potato and other vegetables), Japanese style potato salad and a few more. In this post, I would like to introduce beloved dish, Japanese style curry.
Curry rice is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Curry was introduced to Japan during the Meiji era (1868–1912) by the British, at a time when India was under their administration. It has been adapted since its introduction, and is so widely consumed that it can be called a national dish.
Curry sauce is made by frying together butter, flour, curry powder and other spices, to make the roux. The roux is then added to stewed meat and vegetables, and simmered until thickened. In Japanese homes, curry sauce is most commonly made from instant curry roux, which is available in block and powder forms. Ease of preparation, and the wide variety and availability of instant curry mixes, has made curry rice very popular, as it is very easy to make compared to many other Japanese dishes. The curry is poured over rice, preferred Japanese short grain rice, which is sticky and round, and is always eaten with a spoon. This video tells you about the love affair Japanese (and I) have with Japanese curry.
 Due to the fact that almost every instant curry roux contains MSG, I prefer making it from scratch. I guarantee, this recipe is far more delicious than any instant roux ever produced, and would be a delight to Indian palates as well. 😀 )))
Karē Raisu • カレー ライス • Japanese Curry
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
For the roux
• 4 Tbsp butter
• 7 Tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1½ tsp grated/puréed fresh ginger
• 1 clove garlic crushed/mashed
• 1 Tbsp tomato paste
• 2 Tbsp curry powder
• 1 Tbsp garam masala
• 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
• 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
• 1/8 tsp coriander powder
• 1/8 tsp cumin powder
To dilute the roux
• 2 cups pure apple juice
• 1 cup chicken, beef or vegetarian broth -or- simply water
Common ingredient included in Japanese curry
• 220 g/ 8 oz beef, pork, chicken cut to bite-size (skip for vegetarian)
• 220 g/ 8 oz onion, cut in bite size
• 220 g/ 8 oz potato, low-starch grade, cut in bite-size
• 220 g/ 8 oz carrot, cut in bite-size
• 1½ Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 cup water
• salt to taste
◊ In a medium-sized, non-stick saucepan, on medium-high heat, melt the butter. As soon as the butter almost starts boiling, add the flour and stir vigorously with silicone spatula until the mixture is smooth and almost starts boiling (do not let it boil). Add the next nine ingredients/spices and continue to mix/stir until a thick paste is made. (This paste may be frozen for future use.) Add apple juice and broth. Continue to stir while mashing the roux in the liquid, until the sauce is smooth with no lumps.
◊ In a medium, wide, non-stick pot, on medium-high heat, add ½ Tbsp oil and sautée the meat (such as chicken or thin cut pork). Stir/sautée until browned and empty onto a plate and set aside.
If using meat that needs longer cooking (i.e. beef), add water, enough to cook until tender and all liquid absorbed. Empty onto a plate and set aside.
◊ In the pot, add the other 1 Tbsp of oil and sautée the onion until translucent. Add potatoes, carrots and sautée until browned on the edges. Add the browned/cooked meat (I used chicken) and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
◊ Add the curry sauce, mix/stir well and simmer on medium-low for another 10 minutes.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
 Potato starch content varies, which affects the texture in cooking:
♦ High-starch potatoes, such as russets, have a light, mealy texture. Once boiled, they are ideal for mashing.
♦ Medium-starch potatoes, such as Finnish yellow and Yukon gold, contain more moisture so they don’t fall apart quite as easily as high-starch potatoes.
♦ Low-starch potatoes, such as round red, round white, and new potatoes, are often called waxy potatoes. They hold their shape better than other potatoes when boiled, making them perfect for potato salads or tossing with seasoned butter as a side dish.
I have a bonus recipe for you! When we go to an Indian restaurant, or after eating a spice aromatic/flavored meal at home, Indian milk chai is almost a must. I learned about Indian chai while visiting an Indian classmate (secondary international school) in Kobe, Japan. Since then, I’m in love with this tea.
In many Eurasian languages, chai or cha is the word for tea. This comes from the Persian چای cháí/cháy, which originated from the Cantonese Chinese word for tea 茶 chá. (The English word ‘tea’, on the other hand, comes from the Chiew Chow dialect of Chinese “teeh“.) Despite this, in many Western languages this spiced tea is commonly referred to as simply chai, which can lead to conflation. For this reason, although a tautology (literally “tea tea”), the term chai tea is sometimes used to indicate spiced milk tea as distinct from other types of tea. However, chai is simply the Hindi word for tea and can be prepared black, with milk, without sugar, etc. Numerous United States coffee houses use the term chai latte or chai tea latte for their version to indicate that the steamed milk of a normal latte is flavored with a spiced tea concentrate instead of with espresso. By 1994, the term had become commonplace in the USA. The beverage is locally known as Chai karak in the Middle East. [Wikipedia]
Did you know? → With the sale of each Teavana® Oprah Chai product at Starbucks® a donation
is made to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation to benefit youth education.
Visit Oprah.com/OprahChai for more information.
Indian Milk Chai
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com),
. Adapted from a vegan version by Charu of Soul of Spice (charuyoga.com).
. Cardamom Ginger Chai with Soymilk
• 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
• ¾ tsp fresh ginger, grated
• 1½ cup water
• 1 teabag, black tea, i.e. orange pekoe
• 1½ cup whole milk (or any milk of choice)
• 2 tsp sugar
◊ In a saucepan, bring water to a boil . Turn off/remove from the heat. Add tea bag, cardamom and ginger. Let it sit/brew for 5 minutes.
◊ Add milk, on medium-high heat, bring to near boil. At the indication of boiling on the edges of the saucepan, turn off/remove from heat. Let it sit/brew for 3 ~ 5 minutes.
◊ Remove the teabag and stir in sugar. Using a fine sieve, strain milk chai when pouring into the serving cups. Serve hot.
~ Aap bhojan ka Ananad uthayein! ( Enjoy your meal!) ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?