Traditional Vegetables in Japanese Curry (and Recipe)

Curry is a popular dish in Japan, not just for meat-eaters. Wide varieties of curry are made with vegetables, including carrots and potatoes. Japanese vegetable curry is often served as an appetizer or a side dish for rice.

While the exact ingredients may vary by region and from one household to another, the most common traditional vegetables in Japanese curries are potatoes, carrots, and onions, including:

  • Japanese eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Bell pepper
  • Kabocha
  • Ginger
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Okra
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn

Read on to learn more about each of these traditional veggies in Japanese curry, including an easy Japanese curry recipe you can make at home.

Japanese Curry Vegetables

traditional vegetables in japanese curry

Japanese curry is a favorite in Japan, and it’s easy to see why: it has all the deliciousness of a traditional Western-style stew packed full of vegetables.

Here are some traditional vegetables used in Japanese curry:

1. Potatoes

Potatoes are a very traditional vegetable used in Japanese curry. They’re usually cooked and added at the end of the cooking process, so they’re not cooked for very long.

Potatoes are often used in Japanese curry because they’re inexpensive and easy to find. They go well with other ingredients like carrots and mushrooms, which are also used in wide varieties of Japanese curry.

Also, potatoes have a mild taste, meaning they can be used with more flavorful ingredients without overpowering them.

2. Carrots

Whether you’re making a traditional Japanese curry or a fusion dish with curry spices from around the world, carrots are an excellent choice for adding texture and sweetness to your meal.

It’s a common misconception that carrots are too sweet, but that’s not the case. When you pair them with potatoes, onions, and garlic and simmer them in a pot of curry spice mix, they cut through the sauce nicely to add some crunch and sweetness.

Plus, carrots are packed with nutrients like beta carotene and fiber.

3. Onion

When it comes to onions, there’s nothing more traditional than using them in Japanese curry. They add flavor, aroma, and texture to the dish.

Onions have been used in Japanese cuisine for thousands of years and have always been a staple ingredient in Japanese curries. They’re used in both the base and toppings and are one of the most critical components of the dish.

Also, the onion flavor is an essential part of Japanese curry that other vegetables or fruit bases can’t replicate. So if you like onions, then you’ll love how they enhance the flavor of this already delicious dish!

4. Japanese Eggplant

This vegetable is another traditional ingredient you can add to Japanese curry. Japanese eggplant can be used in many different ways, from simple stir fry to sliced and added to the curry at the end.

This veggie has a mild flavor and doesn’t overpower other ingredients or add too much spice to the dish. It is also low in calories and high in fiber, which makes it great for those who practice healthy eating while still enjoying their food.

5. Green Beans

Traditional Japanese curry features a variety of vegetables, but perhaps none are more popular than green beans. They’re typically added to the curry at the end when it’s ready to serve.

Green beans are a great addition to this dish because they’re not only delicious but also low in fat and calories. They’re high in fiber, vitamins A and C, essential for immune function.

This makes green beans an excellent choice for those on a diet or who want to eat healthily. So adding green beans to your curry is a great way to make the dish healthier.

6. Asparagus

This vegetable gives the curry a crunchy texture and fresh flavor. The way asparagus are used in Japanese curry is similar to how they’re used in western cooking. They’re usually boiled or steamed before being added to the dish; sometimes, they’re eaten raw!

Asparagus can be added to any Japanese curry recipe because it pairs well with many different kinds of meats and fish, such as shrimp or salmon fillets. However, it also works well with beef or chicken thighs as well.

7. Bell Pepper

One of the most popular ways to make Japanese curry is with bell peppers. Bell peppers are great additions to any dish, but they shine when added to Japanese curry.

The mild sweetness of bell peppers helps balance out the heat from the curry powder, while their crunch and firmness add texture to the dish. Bell peppers also contain vitamins A and C and other antioxidants that help protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

8. Kabocha

Kabocha has long been a favorite vegetable of the Japanese people. It is used in many ways, but perhaps one of the most popular ways is in curry.

In Japan, kabocha is very popular because it has a sweet flavor and cooks quickly. It is often used in curry dishes because the sauce goes well with the sweetness of the squash.

Kabocha is also very healthy. It contains vitamin C and beta-carotene, which helps prevent cancer and heart disease.

9. Ginger

This traditional vegetable in Japanese curry is often used to add a spicy kick to the dish. It’s used for various reasons, but most commonly to balance out the sweetness of the other ingredients and add a bit of zing to the flavor profile.

It is also suitable for digestion and can help with nausea, indigestion, and motion sickness.

10. Tomato

You’ll want to get your hands on some tomatoes when making Japanese curry. They’re a great way to add a little sweetness and tanginess to the sauce and help the overall dish look vibrant. They’re typically added to the curry after it’s cooked, adding a nice tart flavor to the dish.

The best way to add tomatoes is to dice them up and mix them into the curry near the end of cooking time. If you don’t want your tomatoes to have any skin, peel them before dicing and adding them to your curry.

Tomatoes are also delicious when added raw. You can add them straight into your pot of simmering Japanese curry.

11. Garlic

Garlic is an extra ingredient in many traditional Japanese curries. It is commonly used to add flavor and aroma to the curry. Also, it helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Garlic gives the curry a garlicky flavor and helps bring out the other vegetables’ flavor. It is one of the most commonly used vegetables in Japanese curries because it’s versatile and delicious.

12. Okra

Okra is a popular Japanese curry vegetable because it adds a lot of flavor to the dish, especially when cooked in sauce. The texture of okra also makes it perfect for adding to curries. Okra can be crunchy or soft, depending on how long it’s cooked.

In addition to adding flavor and texture, okra also helps thicken up the curry sauce. If you’ve noticed that the curry has turned out too thin, try adding some sliced okra.

Okra’s unique flavor can be earthy, salty, or bitter. The taste depends on whether or not the okra was:

  • Picked at its peak ripeness; or
  • Left to ripen on the vine until after it had already been harvested.

13. Cauliflower

It’s another vegetable usually added to the curry after all the other ingredients have been cooked. This allows it to retain its crunchiness, adding a lot of texture to a traditional Japanese curry dish.

You can do so if you want to add cauliflower to your Japanese curry dish. It’s as simple as adding it in at the end, so you don’t have to worry about messing up anything else.

14. Corn

Corn is used in Japanese curry because it gives the dish a sweeter flavor. It can be made into powder, which is then added to the sauce of your choice. It’s often used as a thickener for roux-based sauces such as those used in traditional casseroles or soups.

It’s considered a healthier option than other flour-based thickening agents, such as wheat flour. This matters because it shows that corn can be used differently than just being eaten on its own or as part of a processed food item.

Additionally, this helps to diversify the flavors available in Japanese curries and make them more interesting for people who may be bored with traditional spice combinations.

Again, what vegetables go in a Japanese curry? Some vegetables that go well with traditional Japanese curry include onion, carrots, potato, green beans, celery, and corn. Also, you can use any protein you want.

How to Cook a Traditional Vegetable Japanese Curry

what vegetables are good in japanese curry

This all-vegetable Japanese curry recipe is a great way to enjoy a delicious and authentic dish without meat. The key to making this Japanese dish authentic is to make your roux from scratch.

Once you have your roux, simmer your veggies in the curry mixture until they’re tender. So with just vegetables and a few simple ingredients, you can create a delicious and healthy meal that everyone will love!

Homemade Roux


This homemade Japanese curry roux recipe yields four servings. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (you can use vegan butter or other vegan-friendly oils)
  • 1 tbsp Japanese curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)


Here’s how to make the roux:

  1. Melt vegan butter (or oil) in a small saucepan using medium-high heat. Add all-purpose flour once the butter is completely melted.
  2. Lower the heat and continuously whisk the butter and flour using a silicone spatula until it becomes liquid. Turn the heat low and whisk for another 15 minutes to cook the flour.
  3. Within 15 minutes, the mixture changes its color to chocolate brown.
  4. Next, add the curry powder and garam masala. If you want, you also add cayenne pepper in this step.
  5. Continue stirring for up to 20 seconds, and it’s done.
  6. Place this homemade roux in a bowl and set it aside.

All-Vegetable Japanese Curry


This easy all-vegetable Japanese curry recipe yields six servings. The ingredients you’ll need are as follows:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Two thumb-size fresh ginger (peeled then grated)
  • Two apples (peeled, cored, and then grated)
  • Two large onions (thinly sliced)
  • 10 cups water
  • Four medium potatoes (peeled then chopped)
  • Two large carrots (peeled then chopped)
  • 2 Japanese eggplant (chopped)
  • 3 cup green beans (trimmed ends without the stringy part)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • Two pcs. 220 g boxes of Japanese curry roux mix


Here’s how to cook traditional vegetables in Japanese curry:

  1. Submerge chopped eggplant in cold water for a minimum of 15 minutes to remove the bitterness.
  2. Heat a large pot in medium-high flame, then add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, freshly grated ginger, and apples. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sliced onions and cook for another 3 minutes or until the veggies become soft and translucent.
  4. Next, add water, potatoes, carrots, and green beans.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and then cover it. Cook for 20 minutes more.
  6. Drain the Japanese eggplant and pat the excess water with a paper towel. Using another large pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add drained eggplants when the oil is hot. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes until they’re golden and tender. Transfer it to a plate with paper towels, and set it aside.
  7. Use the store-bought curry roux or add your homemade curry roux. Stir the mixture until completely melted.
  8. Add the eggplants and tomatoes within 10 minutes of the remaining cooking time. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes.
  9. Serve the curry with cooked Japanese rice once done.

Handling and Storage

Store leftover curry in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. It can last for as long as five days. But if you want to keep it for more than five days, place it in a Ziploc bag and freeze it. It will be suitable for 30 days.

Frequently Asked Questions – Vegetables to Put In Japanese Curry

what vegetables japanese curry

What Are Other Vegetables Added to Japanese Curry Recipes?

Green beans, kabocha, Japanese eggplant, asparagus, tomato, bell pepper, ginger, corn, garlic, cauliflower, and okra are some other vegetables that can be used in Japanese curry.

What’s in a Japanese Curry?

Onion, potato, and carrots are Japanese curry’s most common vegetable trio, although any vegetable and protein combination will work. Protein can come from chicken thighs and other vegetables, including celery, green beans, and maize.

What Is Usually Included in a Japanese Curry Meal?

Japanese curry is typically accompanied by rice and pickled vegetables or the Japanese version of chutney. Fukujinzuke (brown pickled radish) is an example of this.

What Is It About Japanese Curry That Sets It Apart?

Indian and Japanese curries are very different in color and texture. Because it incorporates flour or roux, Japanese curries tend to be thicker and more like gravy, whereas Indian curries can be soup-like or not.

Why Is Japanese Curry So Delicious?

The thick, rich sauce of Japanese curry is what sets it apart. The sauce’s thick consistency, unique to Japanese curry, is a favorite of many. Since the sauce is so rich and luscious, you won’t be able to stop eating.

Which Is Better, Japanese or Indian Curry?

There are many differences between Indian and Japanese curries regarding the number of spices used in each dish. In contrast to Indian curry, Japanese curry is rich and has “umami” but is done in a more subdued manner.

Conclusion – Japanese Curry with Traditional Vegetables

So there you have it! The list of traditional vegetables that go into a Japanese curry recipe. Vegetables are a great way to make your Japanese curry more nutritious and delicious.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding some of these ingredients to your next Japanese curry dish and see what happens!

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