Japanese Dry Curry


While the standard curry dish in Japan is a kind of curry stew served on plain rice, dry curry, which is a sort of fried rice with curry flavor, is almost as popular. And unlike the stew-type of curry rice or rice curry it's very fast and easy to put together.

What makes it Japanese really is the use of japonica (medium-grain) rice. Dry curry made with Japanese rice makes a great bento lunch, tasty at room temperature or warmed up in the microwave. The stick-together moist quality of the rice keeps it edible where a dryer stay-apart rice like basmati might taste too dry. Dry curry also has the mixture of sweet and savory, which appears quite a lot in Japanese food, especially the kind that comes from the Kanto (Tokyo-area) region where my family is from.

Japanese style dry curry

  • 225g / 8 oz ground beef or other ground meat, or vegetarian substitute
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. raisins
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 1-2 Tbs (or more, depending on how hot you want it) curry powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-5 cups cooked Japanese rice

Optional garnishes:

  • 1 boiled egg, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh coriander or parsley

Heat a little oil in a sauté pan or wok. Sauté the onions, garlic and ginger until the onion is translucent and a bit browned.

Add the meat, and brown.

Push the meat and vegetables to one side of the pan. Put the curry powder in the empty part of the pan and stir-roast until darkened and fragrant.

Add 1/2 cup of water, raisins, and tomato paste. Simmer rapidly over high heat until the moisture is almost gone.

Add the hot rice to the pan and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with the garnishes on top.


If you're bringing this as an bento lunch, be sure to let it cool to room temperature before putting it in your bento box or plastic container. Pack the boiled egg, if you're adding it, separately, and crumble it on top of the curry rice just before eating.

Here I have used ground beef, but you can use any kind of ground meat - or, if going vegetarian, use your favorite vegetarian imitation-ground-meat. Crumbled firm tofu that's been slowly dried out over low heat in a pan should work well too.

See also

Filed under:  japanese rice yohshoku ground meat curry meat

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Thanks, Maki! This recipe looks great. The stew type curry rice is one of my favorite meals. I'm going to try this ASAP.

This looks perfect for my obento! I am packing my lunch to take to work as the cafeteria food is highly overpriced. Can't wait to try this out! Thank you Maki!


Can this be made with the curry roux instead of the traditional powder? Or would the roux need lots of water in order to dissolve into a sauce (which is fine for the regular kare raisu)...?

I'm just wondering because real curry powder seems quite spicy to me, even in small amounts. But that's just me speaking from no background experience cooking with curry powder...

Thanks, and keep up with your fantastic work with Japanese recipes! I love this blog ^.~

Can I omit the onions? Since I have a slight alergic reaction to them I can't eat onion at all. This pertains to the other curry recipes as well.

I'm afraid a curry without onions just doesn't work. You can try upping the garlic and ginger, but it won't taste the way it should.

Hi, I was wondering if you would know how to make it like Pepper Lunch. It looks like they add a cube of curry roux and curry powder which is just mixed into the rice on the iron plate, is this the same kind of roux you buy in boxes?

Thank you.

I made a version of this with the addition of yellow bell pepper, fresh chili (seeds removed) and finely chopped spinach, replaced the ground beef with thinly sliced pork tenderloin and the white rice with brown rice and topped it with chopped raw green onions. It was deliciously light and my mother loved it! :)