Guess who was panicking in an airport M&S looking for ingredients for a Japanese curry the afternoon before an event where she had to present the recipe? That’s right, me. Some time in August, HYPERJapan came to me with an invitation to a Curry Party with chef Avinash Shashidhara. As the weeb I am, I couldn’t say no, even if I knew it was the day after I would be flying back from visiting my family (and dinosaurs) in Italy. It sounded like a fun challenge too, especially when I expected to get a cosy Waitrose delivery on Sunday morning to get all the right ingredients to show off my knowledge of niche Japanese food (katsu chicken is not the only thing you eat with a curry roux) and make some nice Hokkaido-style venison curry (it may not be Sika deer but it’s still a deer).
Of course, things never go to plan, and that’s how this recipe came to be.
Ingredients (makes 4+ portions)
* A box of S&B Golden Curry in Medium Hot (gifted)
* 600g of chicken thighs
* A min of 300 ml of vegetable stock or other alternatives (I didn’t have chicken stock at hand but I would likely have used vegetable bouillon for a more gentle flavour to the roux since thigh meat has more flavour than breasts)
* 1 generous handful of white rice per person (I used a normal long grain which would be the standard rice at any supermarket because that’s what I had at hand)
* 2 handfuls of red grapes
Start with a cold pan and brown the chicken thighs in their own fat (believe me on this one, the trick of the cold pan was originally from Gordon Ramsey)
Remove the chicken from the pan and toast the spice mix for a few seconds, then add the chicken back and coat it in the spices.
Add the broth to cover the meat, bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a low simmer for the duration of the cooking for a slow-cooked dish, or to a medium one for a faster one. I left it to cook on its own for 1h but then the meat was at rest for another 3 hours before I reheated it for dinner. The goal is to cook the meat thoroughly and reduce the roux to a thick but still runny sauce.
After halfway through the cooking, add red grapes for a hint of sweetness (the longer they stay the softer they will be, but also the more flavour they will add)
Boil or steam the rice according to the instruction on the rice package and the instrument you use (if you have a rice cooker I am well jealous) and serve
The idea of adding grapes is, of course, unorthodox, but as much as it gives a heart attack to my mother (who refuses anything savoury that uses fruits other than tomatoes etc) it does work. I did it, initially, to provide some colour and texture knowing that I had to take photos, but all I had at hand was one of those large mixed berries fruit salads that I grabbed in a 2 for £5 offer at the airport. It was my first time using the S&B curry cubes, the only other time I cooked a Japanese curry at home I used a ready-made sauce pouch from Waitrose, but the cubes (which they sell too, by the way) are much tastier. It may have to do with the fact I have used the full box for that amount of chicken, so maybe a smaller amount will give you a similar flavour to the ready-made one, but one thing I love about curries is that they are an explosion of flavours and, in that regard, Japanese curry can be quite mild. That’s why I am excited to try Chef Avi’s original recipes from the event, which are a fusion of Japanese and the traditions of the part of India where he is from originally.
The reason why this post is going live about 10 days after the event itself has to do with the fact I wanted to try those recipes and report on them, but unfortunately, I’ve had 3 days of migraines in a row and that didn’t happen. I didn’t want to delay the post any further so it’ll be just the chicken curry this time, and I’ll make a follow up soon, especially once I (hopefully) get to go to the Japan Centre and grab some of the Sake in their Cold Sake festival to go with it.