Keema Curry is an Indian curry made of ground meat and minced vegetables. This type of curry started to appear in Japan in the 1950s and it’s been adapted to the Japanese taste and home-style cooking with Japanese curry roux.
Keema Curry (キーマカレー) is a traditional Indian curry dish made of ground meat, minced vegetables, and spices. In Japan, we have been enjoying this flavorful curry since the 1950s.
Today I’ll show you how to make quick and easy Japanese-style Keema Curry at home. 30 minutes is all you need! You can also swap out the meat for vegetarian/ vegan options.
What makes it Japanese-style? The spices are toned down, and other umami seasonings and curry roux are incorporated to suit the Japanese palate. For anyone who prefers milder heat, you’re going to love this curry!
Keema Curry In Japan
The first Keema Curry appeared in 1957 at a curry and coffee shop, Ajanta in Asagaya, Japan (currently located in Kojimachi). Since then Keema Curry has become a regular menu at Indian restaurants all over Japan.
Because of religious reasons, mutton is generally used in keema curry in India, but it was, and still is, difficult to obtain the meat in Japan. Therefore, the restaurants have been serving the curry with chicken or pork.
How to Make Japanese-Style Keema Curry
Keema Curry is also a popular dish among Japanese home-cooks. Not only it tastes delicious, but it’s also a lot easier to make as compared to the regular Japanese curry. The use of ground meat makes Keema Curry a breezy affair when you’re in a hurry. Here are the 3 simple steps:
- Chop vegetables into small pieces, similar to ground meat.
- Stir fry vegetables and meat first, add broth/water and curry powder, and simmer till ingredients are tender.
- Add Japanese curry roux and simmer for a few minutes.
In India, Keema is usually served with basmati rice, paratha or roti, chapati, and naan, but Japanese-style Keema Curry is served with (short-grain) steamed rice. I like to serve it with a fried egg or halved boiled egg on top, which adds a nice creamy texture to the curry.
Difference Between Keema Curry and Dry Curry
If you’re familiar with Japanese “Dry Curry”, or ドライカレー, you may wonder the differences between Keema Curry and Dry Curry. Both dishes look extremely similar but here are how they differ:
- Originated in India
- Use ground meat (mutton, especially in Indian restaurants)
- Can be soupy (more broth)
- Originated in Japan (it’s a home-style dish)
- Almost no soup or sauce
- Curry Fried Rice or Curry Pilaf are also considered Dry Curry variety.
This flavorful curry makes a wonderful meal for a busy evening, and I hope you will give it a try. Enjoy!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 1 onion (7 oz, 200 g)
- 1 stalk celery (2 oz, 57 g)
- ½ carrot (3.5 oz, 100 g)
- 6 shiitake mushrooms (1.7 oz, 48 g; You can use dried shiitake mushrooms instead of fresh ones. If using dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the water out from the mushrooms and use this liquid in place of water)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- 1 lb ground pork (You can also use beef or chicken; for vegan/vegetarian, use mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, tofu, etc)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup Chicken Stock/Broth (homemade or store bought) (You can use vegetable stock for vegetarian/vegan)
- ½ cup water (or more)
- 1 tsp Japanese curry powder
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cubes Japanese curry roux (Roughly 2 oz or 50 g. You can make homemade Japanese curry roux.)
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp Tonkatsu sauce
- 4 fried eggs (I always like to add, but optional)
- Gather all the ingredients. Prepare steamed rice first, if you don't have any.
- Chop the onion finely. With the knife tip pointing toward the root, slice the onion to within ½ inch of the base. Make about ¼ inch parallel cuts. Then slice the onion horizontally about ¼ inch parallel cuts.
- Then cut perpendicular to the first slices you made. If the onions need to be chopped finer, you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion. Be sure to hold down the tip of the knife; otherwise, the onions are going to go flying around.
- Cut the celery into 4-inch pieces, then thin sticks, and mince them.
- Cut the carrot into 4-inch thin slabs, then thin sticks, and mince them.
- Remove the stem of shiitake mushrooms and slice them, and mince them.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent.
- Add ground pork and cook until no longer pink.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add celery, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms and mix well with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add chicken stock and water. Add more water, if necessary, so the cooking liquid covers the ingredients.
- Add curry powder and mix well. Cover and bring it to boil. Skim off the scum and foam on the surface with a fine-mesh skimmer as necessary. Reduce heat to medium-low heat and cook covered until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add curry roux (one piece at a time!) and butter and let them dissolved completely. The curry will thicken as it's heated up. Adjust the thickness of the curry with water/broth. You can make it soupy if you prefer.
- Add ketchup and Tonkatsu sauce. Mix well and simmer for 3-5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a small amount of water to adjust.
- Serve the Keema Curry over steamed rice and top with a fried egg, if you like.
- Keep in the airtight container for up to 2-3 days. This recipe freezes well, so make a large portion, divide it up, and freeze for up to a month.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on January 4, 2011. The new images are added and the post is updated and republished in August 2020.