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Curry bread is a Japanese take on the Indian curry and the English bun. The closest thing to it would be a curry-filled doughnut. It is simply curry wrapped in bread and then coated with flaky breadcrumbs known as panko in Japanese. This concoction can either be deep-fried or oven-baked. It is sold in bakeries, supermarkets and convenience stores, but is rarely found in eateries and restaurants.
In Japanese, curry bread is known as ‘kare pan,’ a mixture of words from English and French. It can also be called ‘yaki kare pan’ with ‘yaki’ being a Japanese word meaning baked or fried. It is usually found next to light, fluffy buns filled with meat called ‘niku-man’ and a variation containing pizza called ‘piza-man.’ Another variation found in bakeries contains a cream cheese filling. Its popularity in Japan led to it becoming the head of a character — Kare Pan Man — in the long-running anime-manga ‘Anpanman.’
It is possible to taste curry bread outside of Japan without having to cook it, but it is unlikely. Fortunately, the basic recipe and cooking method is not difficult and can be performed at home or in any basic kitchen. Homemade curry bread also allows people to vary the ingredients including the type of curry filling, size and, perhaps most importantly, spiciness.
Making curry bread is broken down into three stages. The first stage involves making the curry filling. The second stage involves making the bread. The third stage combines the two.
The filling has the most potential for variation. It can be anything from leftovers from the previous night’s curry to a specially-made batch. It can be made from a balti, korma, tika masala or Bombay potatoes. The curry possibilities are nearly endless, but it is better to use a mixture that is mostly solid vegetables and meat, rather than mostly sauce. Traditional curry breads use Japanese curry, which is simple and without variation.
The bread dough requires usual bread ingredients such as flour, yeast, salt and eggs. It also needs a little sugar, milk and dry panko breadcrumbs. Normal homemade breadcrumbs can be made if there is no specialized Asian food market nearby.
Any excess dough from the curry bread can be turned into sweet dough balls or doughnuts. These can then be rolled in sugar, honey or cinnamon. Alternatively, they can be sweetened using jam, cream or custard.