This Japanese curry made it to my list of comfort foods a couple of years ago, after binge watching episodes of Midnight Diner all weekend. Good Japanese had to be had! Also, the show had sparked a desire to cook Japanese food at home! Ramen seemed complicated, and Sushi unfathomable. Katsu Curry on the other hand, was doable and appealed to the rice-lover in me.
With a little Youtube research, I found that the main flavor component of the dish was Japanese Curry Powder – something I was unlikely to find at the corner shop. I’d had Katsu curry at restaurants before, and it always tasted familiar; that familiar taste came from the curry powder for sure, but it definitely wasn’t just garam masala. I decided to experiment with a mix of garam masala, paprika (for warmth without heat) and wait for it, here’s what my palate told me – a sachet of Maggi Masala, fished out from a pack of instant noodles! The resulting curry was spot on😁 – a mild, flavorful gravy and with a crisp on the outside, succulent Katsu (breaded cutlet)!
You can make the Katsu with the protein of your choice. For a vegetarian version use Paneer / Tofu in place of chicken and substitute thick yogurt instead of egg during the breading process.
Recipe: Japanese Katsu Curry
- A flat frying pan
- A saucepan / pan to make the curry
For the Curry
- 3 cups Water
- Salt [to taste]
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Potato
- 1 tbs Salted Butter
- 1 tsps Garlic
- ½ tsps Ginger
- ¼ Garam Masala
- ½ tsps Paprika
- 2 tsps Sesame Oil
- 2 tsps All-purpose Flour
- 1 sachet Maggi Masala [Regular Vegetarian Flavor]
For the Katsu (Cutlet)
- 2 small Chicken Breasts [alternate: an inch thick slab of paneer / tofu]
- All-purpose Flour [as needed for breading the katsu]
- 1 Egg [alternate: thick yogurt]
- Salt [to taste]
- ½ tsp Paprika
- ½ tsp Garlic [finely chopped]
- Bread-crumbs; ideally Panko but regular will do [as needed for breading the katsu]
For the rice
- 1 cup Short-grained Rice
- 2 cups Water
- Salt [a pinch]
To make the Curry:
- Chop the carrot and potato into bite sized chunks. Place in a sauce pan with 3 cups of water, plus a pinch of salt; bring to a boil and cook until 75% done. Drain the vegetables and retain the stock in a separate bowl.
- Add the butter, a tsp of finely chopped garlic and half a tsp of finely chopped ginger to a pan. Sauté until the raw smell dissipates1.
- Add the finely chopped onion, a pinch of salt2 and sauté until translucent3.
- Next add a quarter tsp of garam masala, half a tsp of paprika and sauté on low heat for about 30 seconds.
- Add the boiled carrot and potato to the pan and continue to sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Make a well in the middle of the sautéed vegetables and add 2 tsps of sesame oil. Add 2 tsps of all-purpose flour into the oil and stir gently until well combined for about 30 seconds. Make sure to turn the flame down low when doing this! Once cooked, mix the flour mixture evenly with the vegetables.
- Next add the vegetable stock and the Maggi masala to the pan; bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 – 6 mins. The curry will turn a darker hew, thicken and get glossy.
- Finally add a tsp of apple cider vinegar, stir well and turn off the heat.
To make the Katsu (Cutlet):
- Wash and pat the chicken breast4 dry.
- Gently pound with a Pestle or rolling pin, to get to thin, even thickness5.
- Season on both sides with salt, paprika and garlic6.
- Massage the seasoning in to the meat with your fingers.
- Beat the egg with a pinch of salt, a quarter tsp of paprika and finely chopped garlic7.
- Set up a breading station: a plate / flat dish with flour, another with the egg wash and a third plate with bread crumbs.
- Coat the chicken, first with flour, egg wash next and finally with bread crumbs
- Here's what the coated cutlet should look like
- Heat 2 – 3tbs8 of sesame oil in a flat frying pan.
- Once hot, gently place the cutlet in.
- Fry on each side on low-to-medium heat for about 2-3 mins. This is the golden colour that you want to achieve!
- Rest the cutlet in a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.
To cook the Rice:
- Wash and drain rice. Add rice and water in a 1:2 ratio to a pressure cooker OR pot with a lid. Also add one fourth of a tsp of salt.
- * If using a Pressure cooker – cook for 2 whistles.
- * If using a Pot – cook on, low heat, with the lid on, until all the water is absorbed and the grains are soft and fluffy.
Assembling the Dish:
- Your final step, is to plate the 3 components of this dish! Slice the Katsu into strips of 1 inch thickness and place over rice. Spoon the curry onto the side and serve!
1 You do not want the ginger and garlic to brown; just cook them until they go slightly crisp
2Remember that we are using salted butter in this dish and that we’ve already salted the vegetable stock! Be careful not to add too much salt while sautéing the onions, as there’s adequate seasoning being added at various other stages.
3Again, we don’t want to brown the onion, just cook until it softens.
4If using small chicken breasts, use one per Katsu. If they are larger, cut in half to make 2 cutlets.
5Pounding or tenderizing the chicken helps give the cutlet a really tender texture. While you can avoid this step, I highly recommend it!
6Season that chicken! I’ve often found breaded cutlets a bit bland, but this step, adds tons of flavor to the meat.
7Again seasoning the egg wash / yogurt before you coat your choice of protein adds extra flavor to the final Katsu. You could skip this step, but it hardly takes any effort!
8Use just enough oil to coat the surface of your pan well. If using a small pan 2 table spoons should do.
Here’s a vegetarian version of the Katsu that I made to try out. It was great! The paneer was soft and delicious.
Give this one a go if you’d like to try Japanese cuisine at home, and as always let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or feedback on the recipe🖖