These days, it is not sushi that is the most popular dish in Japan as prices can be quite high. Ask a Japanese person and they will probably answer ramen, udon or curry. The first thing that you probably think about when someone mentions curry is Indian or Thai curry, which is served worldwide and reasonably easy to find in your own country, too. However, many foreigners are unaware of the existence of Japanese curry.
What is the difference between Indian curry and Japanese curry? It’s not easy to answer. During the 19th century when India was a British colony, British sailors brought curry to Japan. The British made a less spicy curry powder and added flour to the sauce for body. India is a vast country with many different regions, and in each part of India, you can find local recipes for curry. Although it is often said that Indian curry doesn’t contain beef because the cow is sacred for Hindus, it is not true that the difference between Indian and Japanese curry is that Japanese curry is usually served with beef. There is still a very large Muslim population in India who eat many types of beef curry. There is also a huge variety in sauces and ingredients throughout India. What we can say for sure is that somewhere in India there is a local area preparing a curry that has a very similar taste to Japanese curry. Generally speaking, there is essentially only one main type of flavour to Japanese curry, which is usually mild and slightly sweet.
Are you in a hurry and want to eat a hot meal? It is easy to find a place in Japan where you can try a dish of curry. You can buy curry at convenience stores or supermarkets, and the staff there can warm up it for you. Many coffeehouses serve it and not only at lunchtime. Of course, you can eat curry at almost all restaurants. However, the best curry is available at Japanese curry restaurants where you can find many unique styles. There are also popular curry festivals where local restaurants prepare curry dishes on the street, and you can compare them to find which one you like best. Curry can also not be missed at all kinds of Japanese festivals. Lastly, you can also find curry in your own home. Buy a package of curry sauce (roux) and boil it in hot water with the other ingredients and serve it with fresh rice prepared in a rice cooker.
What are the typical ingredients? They are potatoes, carrots, onions and meat. The sauce is made from curry powder and roux. When your curry is served to you, you can use fukujinzuke (pickled daikon) as a topping.
The most common curry dish is curry rice (kare raisu, カレーライス) served with chicken, pork, beef or seafood. At restaurants, it is possible to order curry soba, curry udon and curry hamburgers. Many snacks have a curry flavour. If you come to Japan and would like to eat a low-budget food served in just a few minutes, curry rice is an excellent choice for you.
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