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Sep 28, 2006 09:18 PM

Can you please identify this curry dish?

I've never eaten Indian food, but there's a Japanese restaurant nearby that serves curry, and co-workers go and pick up for me. I'd like to know if this matches a common Indian dish so I'll know what to order (or something like it) should I try an Indian restaurant soon.

The place we get it from calls it "fried chicken katsu curry." It has a fried chicken breast cut into strips and white rice, and served in a bowl on the side is a yellow curry and brown gravy sauce, with chunks of beef (or possibly lamb), carrots and potatoes. Our whole office gets the same thing and the smell is HEAVENLY. :-)

Katsu sounds Japanese. . .how would I order this in an Indian restaurant? And if they dont' have such a thing, what's similar that I could get? I would really like to try an Indian place but I'm a little wary of unfamiliar foods. I like a little spice (think General Tso's chicken) but nothing too hard-core.

Thanks chowfriends!

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  1. I'm no expert. I believe that Katsu refers to the cutlet in the dish you ordered. And yes it is Japanese. Sorry, no you can't find the dish in an Indian restaurant. At least I haven't found it. Japanese curry dishes use curry powder made into a gravy or sauce to top the katsu (cutlet). Indian curries are more complex and flavor the entire entree instead of a using it as a sauce topper.

    1. You won't find chicken katsu curry on an Indian menu. While the idea is based on Indian curries, it's been adopted and modified through the years to appeal to Japanese tastes.

      You'll find chicken curries in an Indian restaurant, but they won't be topped with a deep-fried Panko-crusted chicken cutlet; likely the chicken chunks will be mixed in with the vegetables, like a stew. Since Japanese curries tend to be on the milder side, you might want to start at the lower end of the spice scale at an Indian restaurant.

      1. As noted, Katsu curry is a strictly Japanese adaptation of Indian curry, based on yellow curry powder. Curry powder has no equivalent in Indian cooking (to my knowledge), where "curry" essentially denotes a stew and typically contains blends of many aromatic spices. Curry powder is heavy on turmeric (the yellow color) and not very hot. All that being said, authentic or not, Japanese curry is addictive. Like a Big Mac, it may not taste like a hamburger, but it still tastes good.

        If you are at an Indian restaurant, the closest thing texture and heat level wise might be a chicken tikka masala.

        1. The Japanese have an established (but imported) taste for curry, and have adopted it in their own style (kinda like they make some EXTREMELY different pizzas).

          In a Japanese grocery you can find a wide variety of curry-sauce bases, all of them appearing much like a chocolate bar inside (right down to the color and the blocklike divisions) - you cook up some vegetables and maybe some meats, add water and a block of the sauce base, and simmer for awhile as it thickens.

          Flavors include straight-ahead brown curry gravies in a variety of heats, plus things like "Vermont Curry" (with a maple flavor note ... don't laugh, it works).

          6 Replies
          1. re: wayne keyser

            "Vermont Curry" is such a surreal thing to see in Japanese stores. Right up there with Pocari Sweat.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Pocari Sweat, in case you're wondering, is a Japanese soft drink.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                In case you're wondering, Pocari is a little furry animal that sweats while running in a wheel; at least that's what my physics teacher told us.

                Alas, it turns out to be a non-sweet Gatorade-like beverage.

            2. re: wayne keyser

              Actually, there's no maple flavor in Vermont brand curry. I'm not exactly sure why House corporation called it Vermont, but it's known to be sweet from fruit extracts, not maple. From what I understand House Corp introduced it in 1963 and it was an instant hit, especially with kids. It's one of the best-selling brands of curry in Japan.

              You can see the label specs here:

              1. re: E Eto

                I think they called it Vermont to put one in mind of the apples used to flavor the sauce (and which are featured prominently on the Vermont package). Vermont has always been famous for its apples, but now, thanks to House, its just as famous for its curry!

                1. re: Debbie M

                  I actually saw the Vermont Curry brand product in a large Korean
                  supermarket I just visited. I looked at the ingredients and
                  realized that the manufacturer does not focus on using the
                  healthiest ingredients vs. companies such as Deep Foods, whose
                  Green Guru line is made from what is perceived as better
                  ingredients such as canola oil, brown rice, no msg, no artificial
                  stuff. The Vermont Curry products I looked at used MSG and some other ingredients that did not impress me as being of highest health benefits.

            3. The other replies have done a very good job of answering your questions, but I'll try to add some info. I'm a California-born Japanese American and my profile shows that my "Favorite Comfort Chow" is Japanese curry.

              First, I'd bet my saffron that the "katsu curry" you had from the Japanese restaurant used beef (lamb is not popular in Japan) and also included onions (in addition to the carrots and potatoes you mentioned). A flavorful, tough cut of beef (like chuck or short rib) is usually slow-cooked for curry and the onions are an important flavor-enhancer, even if you didn't notice them. The "katsu" part is an optional addition to curry, and pork katsu is more common than chicken katsu. You will not find an Indian equivalent of katsu in their curry dishes, but I don't think it's that important. Also, the short-grain rice used in Japanese cuisine is very different form the long-grain or medium-grain rice used in Indian cuisine.

              Believe it or not, there's a Wikipedia article on Japanese curry. It mentions "katsu-kare" and describes Japanese curry as "thicker, sweeter and not as hot as its Indian equivalent." Here's the link:

              5 Replies
              1. re: HungryMojo

                Thank you, that is exactly the dish I got. (Though I pour mine over the rice, LOL.) I honestly didn't notice any onions, but they might have been chopped fine.

                I did notice something else that came on the side of the rice. It was some sort of chopped crunchy vegetable with a bright red (like really magenta) coloring that rubbed off on the rice. At first I thought they were a kind of pepper, but when I tried one it seemed to have a slightly sweet to almost no flavor at all. They had a crunch like a hard water chestnut. I don't even know why they were included -- any idea? The Wiki article mentioned chopped apples, these might have been it, but why color them so? They were kinda scary looking. :-P

                1. re: Covert Ops

                  It's actually a condiment of pickeled ginger, called beni shoga.

                  1. re: Covert Ops

                    The Wiki article mentioned that weird stuff in the "Serving" section. It's one of the many different kinds of Japanese pressed pickled vegetables, most likely made with daikon radish or turnip. They're an optional addition that you can mix in with each scoop of curry/rice (You eat with a spoon, right?). Personally, I just leave it on the side. I think raisins work better (I'm not kidding). Raisins add small pieces of sweetness without sweetening the whole curry sauce.

                    There are many different kinds of Japanese pressed pickled vegetables. You'll probably like a few of them. I don't care for the kind that's traditionally served with curry. I love the kind that's rolled into sushi like "shinko maki" (bright yellow daikon-based pickle).

                    1. re: HungryMojo

                      The red stuff is the beni shoga. Oshinko is a generic term for pickles. The yellow daikon pickle is called takuan.

                    2. re: Covert Ops

                      The red condiment is called fukujinzuke. It's the most typical accompaniment to curry. Beni shoga and rakkyo (pickled scallions) are also offered up with curry, but not as typical as fukujinzuke.