Japanese Curry Powder

Japanese Curry Powder


Every year (ish) my friends and I attempt a ‘curry season kick off’ lunch. In the past we’ve focussed on a single dish (pork vindaloo, rogan josh) but this year Andy suggested looking at a region, to allow the cooks a bit more flexibility. As some friends of ours are set to visit Japan in a month or so, my brainwave was Japanese curry.

Yes – Japanese curry is a ‘thing’ . While perhaps not the dish most representative of Japanese cuisine for those of us in the west, it is very popular in Japan. Unsurprisingly, it was introduced to Japan in the late nineteenth century by the British and since then has undergone something of a transformation.

You can actually buy Japanese curry roux in most large Australian supermarkets, but I was basing my contribution to this lunch around a recipe Andy had cooked several times previously. This recipe doesn’t make use of a roux and just specifies that one should use some Japanese curry powder.

As Andy was off at work, I didn’t have the luxury of asking him what he’d used in the past (it transpires that the answer to that question was ‘garam masala’ …), so I immediately googled, hoping we had enough spices to cobble together my own approximation.

Happily, we did – I used a combination of sources, some of which only specified ratios, some which specified spices we didn’t have, to create the following.

I won’t be posting the entire curry recipe for some time (we, er, might have eaten it without taking any photos) but I thought I would write up the curry powder – if only so that next time I am not left scratching my head.

This curry powder will work in any situation where a recipe (Japanese or otherwise) calls for curry powder. As it contains very little chilli it’s perfect for anyone who wants some complexity of flavour without heat.

Japanese Curry Powder


  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds (optional)


  1. If any of your spices are whole, put all of the ingredients in a spice grinder and grind, otherwise just mix together.
  2. Store in a clean jar in a dark drawer or cupboard.

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