The Japanese have a love affair with karēpan, curry stuffed in a bun that is then baked or fried until golden brown.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (7 votes)


  • 50 g (1¾ oz) cooked vegetables such as pumpkin (squash), potato or eggplant (aubergine)
  • 4 small soft-boiled eggs (optional)
  • neutral oil for deep-frying
  • 60 g (2 oz/1 cup) panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)


  • 150 g (5½ oz) warm water
  • 3 g (⅛ oz) instant yeast
  • 250 g (9 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 10 g (¼ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 3 g (⅛ oz) salt
  • 10 g (¼ oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Keema curry (kimakare)

  • 1 tomato
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil, for frying
  • 400 g (14 oz) minced (ground) pork or chicken
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 3-cm (1¼ in) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 600 ml (20¼ fl oz) chicken stock or water
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp akamiso (red miso paste)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Spice mix (see Note)

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp Japanese curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Rising time: 1 hour

  1. Combine all of the spice mix ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score a cross into the skin of the tomato. Fill a large bowl with iced water. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Blanch the tomato in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then transfer to the iced water using a slotted spoon. Peel the tomato by pulling the skin away from the cross. Chop the flesh of the tomato and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium–high heat. Fry the mince until browned, breaking up any chunks with the back of a wooden spoon, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Return the pan to the heat. Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger until soft but not coloured. Add the spice mix and fry until fragrant, then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it darkens.
  5. Add the stock, tomato, apple and mince and bring to a boil, then add the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and  simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir through the miso, sesame oil, honey and soy sauce. Set aside to cool completely.
  7. To make the dough, combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl and leave for 10 minutes, or until the mixture starts to foam. Add the remaining ingredients and knead by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
  8. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest in a warm place for 1–2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  9. Use the palms of your hands to press down and deflate the dough, then divide it into 8 evenly sized balls, or 4 if you are using soft-boiled eggs. Flatten the balls out and evenly divide the curry, vegetables and eggs (if using) between them. Enclose the filling by pinching the edges of the dough together, then forming into balls.
  10. Fill a large, heavy-based saucepan one-third of the way with oil. Heat over medium heat until small bubbles form on the surface of a wooden chopstick inserted into the oil – approximately 165°C (330°F).
  11. Lightly dampen the outside of the buns with water by patting them with wet hands or spritzing them, then sprinkle with the panko.
  12. Deep-fry the buns in batches until golden brown, then place on a rack to drain. The karēpan can be eaten immediately or cooled and refrigerated, to be reheated later in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 10 minutes.



If you don't feel like making the spice mix for the curry, you can substitute 1 block of roux in its place. (Solid blocks of 'curry roux' are availabe from Asian food stores.)


Recipe from Tokyo Local by Caryn Liew and Brendan Liew, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99