Though I didn’t become acquainted with it until Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the “Superspicy Curry” item — the one that causes characters to uncontrollably spew jets of fire from their mouths — actually has its roots in the Kirby series. But considering Kirby’s main purpose is to eat everything in sight, my discovery isn’t exactly surprising. The item also got me thinking about my love of stew-like dishes and my perpetual quest to find some good Japanese curry.
Turns out there aren’t a lot of Southwestern Connecticut restaurants specializing in curry-flavored delicacies from Eastern Asia. So, I decided to make my own.
My initial research revealed that most Japanese curry recipes either recommend a pre-mixed batch of curry spices or a generic “garam masala,”a phrase which roughly translates to “curry spices.” I have a pretty good garam masala from the local Indian market (no trouble finding that in Connecticut, oddly enough), but Indian curry and Japanese curry differ significantly.
While Indian curries tend to be on the spicier end of the spectrum, leaning on saltier and smokier flavors, Japanese curries are noted for their sweetness and savory nature. For many, they’re the comfort food of choice.
Granted, it’s probably not spicy enough to produce jets of fire from Kirby’s mouth, but let’s do it anyway!
The folks over at Just Hungry wrote a breakdown of the general “ratio ranges” of various spices in Japanese curry mixes, translated into English for my gaijin convenience. And from that, I devised my own “garam masala,” which we’ll refer to as “Jewish-Japanese style.”
Check it out:
Smashing Good Curry
- 1 ½ Tbsp Ground Turmeric
- 1 ½ Tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1 ½ tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground Cardamom
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- ½ tsp Cayenne
- ½ tsp Ground Clove
- ½ tsp Ground Allspice
- ½ tsp Cocoa Powder
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 3 medium-sized onions, caramelized (makes about ⅔ cup of onions; recipe here; scale as appropriate)*
- 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil (if you’re leaving out the protein, aim on the lower end for this one)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger root, grated
- ½ large apple, peeled and grated
- 3 cups chicken stock (vegetarians: sub vegetable stock)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced (on a bias, if you want to get all fancy)
- 2 medium-small russet potatoes, cut into roughly inch-sized pieces
- 1 ½ lbs chicken breast, cut into half-inch cubes (this can be left out, or subbed out for a different protein item of your choice)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- Salt to taste
- Mix together Garam Masala spices (Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Clove, Allspice, and Cocoa Powder)
- Heat a small, dry skillet or sauce pan over medium-low heat until heated through.
- Add spice mix to heated pan. Roast until spices are aromatic and uniform in color, stirring or shaking occasionally.
- Remove spices from heat and set aside to cool
- Add butter and flour to a small saucepan over medium heat
- Stir constantly until well mixed and the mixture has turned golden brown
- Remove from heat
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering
- Add in chicken (or protein item of your choice) and brown, stirring to catch all sides of each piece. Note: Mine achieved this color in large part because this was the same pan in which I’d just caramelized my onions.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and remove protein from pot, using a pair of tongs and leaving as much liquid as possible in the pot. Set protein aside.
- Add garlic and ginger to pot and cook until the mixture has achieved a deep brown.
- Add the caramelized onions and stir together.
- Add Garam Masala from above and saute until fragrant
- Return protein item to the pot and add in stock, potatoes, carrots, and grated apple
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low (sustaining a simmer) and cover
- Allow to cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are very tender (test by attempting to pierce with a fork; it should slide in with little resistance)
- Salt the curry to taste, then add in your roux and peas, stirring well
- Turn heat to high and bring to a boil until sauce has thickened to your desired consistency
- Serve, ideally with rice
Bonus Achievements: If you want to make this curry spicier, or less spicy, just adjust the amount of cayenne in the recipe up or down respectively. Though, be careful; cayenne pepper is a natural blood thinner, like cinnamon.
If you want to take your curry in a tasty and non-traditional direction, add gochujang (a Korean spicy chili paste), when combining the caramelized onions with the sauteed garlic and ginger. Gochujang’s spicy and tangy flavor should give your curry an unusual, but tasty, kick. I recommend starting with a teaspoon and working up from there.
No matter what variation you choose, you’ll end up with a curry fit for King Dedede and Donkey Kong. Though, fire-spitting is optional.