Japanese Curry

The last recipe I want to share for Japanese Cuisine month is Japanese curry.

Japanese curry is one of those easy-to-make recipes that also has a deeply passionate following. Every home has at least 1 box of the pre-made curry blocks and there are plenty of variations and brands available to choose from. Just boil some water, add your stew basics (potatoes, onions, carrots), and melt some of the cubes to have a ready meal for a family.

vermont curry box
Curry blocks like these are easy to find and there are many brands and varieties to choose from. However, these are not friendly to a gluten free, corn free, or dairy free diet.
S&B Curry Powder can
In order for someone with dietary restrictions to gluten, dairy, and corn to enjoy Japanese curry, you need to make it with Japanese curry powder

The reason curry is “easy to make” at home is because of those curry blocks, cubes of pre-made flavored roux that are shelf-stable. It’s very uncommon to find anyone who makes Japanese curry from scratch. You’re more likely to find rows of the curry block boxes in the grocery store than a single container of Japanese curry powder.

This is one of those foods that makes me jealous of those without my dietary restrictions. Even when cooking from scratch, Japanese curry is a roux-based curry, meaning it starts with a base of slowly browning a mixture of flour and butter to make what is called a light roux.

This method of making Japanese curry took a lot of research and exposure to many cuisine types to come up with and has a lot of thanks to give to Indian cuisine specifically.

The magic ingredient that makes eating Japanese curry possible is… cashews.

Indian cuisine has cashew based curries (which also tend to have dairy in it to… another story for another day) where cashews are soaked and blended into a pureé where when boiled, thickens the broth into a creamy stew.

We use the same method in this Japanese curry recipe.

Ingredients for curry
Cashews have been soaked overnight and are ready to be blended for today’s curry recipe.
pureéd cashew cream in a blender
Blend the soaked cashews in a high-powdered blender to produce a thick creamy liquid that we’ll use to substitute the dairy in this curry
lighter yellow colored pot of curry
Everything in the pot! Don’t worry if the color is too light at this point in time. As the curry cooks, the contents will meld into a darker more even color.
Curry that is a light brown after cooking
After 20-30 minutes of simmering and occasional stirring, the curry will turn tan and the flavors will have melded.
Bowl of curry and rice and a side

Cashew-based Japanese Curry (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Corn Free, Coconut Free)

A curry free from gluten, dairy, corn, coconut, and soy that uses cashews to create that thick stew we all love
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 6


  • 1 Vitamix blender or other high-powered blender
  • 1 large pot


Cashew Cream

  • 1/2-3/4 cup raw cashews raw is best, but roasted and unsalted work ok
  • 2 cups water


  • 1/4 cup chicken fat other animal fat also works. Olive oil or other vegetable oil also acceptable but may not create as rich of a curry. See notes.
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped potato
  • 1/2 lb sliced beef
  • 1/4 cups curry powder S&B curry powder is iconic, but you can also make your own Japanese curry powder. See notes.
  • 2 cups beef broth chicken broth or dashi stock also ok


Prep Ahead

  • Soak the cashews in water for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. But do not soak more than 12 hours (I find the ground cashew grains stay separated if they are oversoaked).
    1/2-3/4 cup raw cashews, 2 cups water

Make Cashew Cream

  • Right before starting to make the curry, blend the cashews and water in a Vitamix or other high-power blender until the cashews turn into a creamy liquid consistency. Set aside

Make the Curry

  • In a 3-qt or larger pot, add the chicken fat and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent
    1/4 cup chicken fat, 1/4 cup diced onions
  • Add the potatoes and carrots. Add the sliced beef. Add the curry powder and stir to cook, but be careful not to burn the powder.
    2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped potato, 1/2 lb sliced beef, 1/4 cups curry powder
  • Add the cashew cream, and then add the beef broth. Add more water as needed. Increase heat to boil.
    2 cups beef broth
  • Once boiling, reduce pot to simmer and stir frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula to prevent the cashew cream from burning. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Serve when ready. The flavors will meld over time, so this curry is also great if reheated next day. Enjoy


The creamy richness of butter is what gets lost in this recipe compared to using curry roux cubes. In order to add this back, I highly recommend using animal fat.
For the earthy flavors of a roux, I recommend adding some “umami” with either MSG, salt-cured egg yolks, or powdered shiitake mushrooms. I especially enjoy eating a bowl of Japanese curry with a mixed-in umeboshi. 
S&B Oriental Curry Powder is the only off-the-shelf Japanese curry powder I see in Asian grocery stores. Japanese curry is a pretty iconic flavor so you can’t go wrong with it. However, if you’d like better control with the flavor profile, you can also mix your own batch of curry powder. I have a go-to recipe I use. Recipe TBD. 
Keyword cashew cream, curry

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