One of my favorite dishes to eat when I go to Japan is Curry. Yes, I said curry! Most people have not heard of Japanese curry because it is not served often in US and what is served, is usually awful. In Japan, the everyday restaurants and specialty curry shops server it and it is an incredibly hearty and tasty food. Flavor-wise, it is curry with somewhat sweet flavor -- uniquely different than Indian or Chinese curry.
Curry came to Japan via the British which at the time, ruled India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_curry
Fortunately, it is dead easy to make at home. Japanese have perfected the art of packaging the key ingredient which is a curry flavored gravy. The package looks like chocolate bar and is sold in various levels of hotness by many asian grocery stores:
The simplest mean is to fry some chopped onions in a pressure cooker. Then add some cubed beef, add just enough water to cover, and then cover and bring up the pressure. Turn off in 10 minutes and let the pressure drop by itself to zero. Open the lid, add your favorite vegetable such as carrots and mushrooms. With the former, you may want to zap it again under pressure for 5-8 minutes to get them tender quickly.
Then add the content of the curry package. But here is a useful hint: use a knife and cut lines while the material is in its tray packaging, making them into smaller sections of half inch each. If you don't do this, they may not dissolve fully. Then put them in the pressure cooker. Stir and they will dissolve and thicken. The consistency you are looking for is twice the thickness of a regular gravy. If it is too hard, then you have added too much sauce for the amount of water you have in there. Just add a bit of the water at a time until you are able to stir it. If it is too runny, then add another package (we buy the smaller ones so that we can do this easily).
You can make the same dish with chicken (thighs would be best), or shrimp. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you should go and get one . But for now, you can cut the meat into smaller pieces and cook it longer.
You serve this with plain rice. We like to use Japanese (sticky) rice. Even though this dish originates from India, I find that the flavor of Indian/long-grain rice interferes with the enjoyment of the curry. Japanese rice is more or less flavorless and absorbs the curry very nicely. Here is a nice picture of what it looks like when finished:
Japanese serve pickles on the side. I usually go for "Gari" which is the pickled ginger that is served in Japanese sushi bars. In Japan, they serve small pickled onions which I enjoy but I have not gone looking for them here.
Anyway, if you have a rice cooker, this dish is the simplest and easiest meal to make at home. It is incredibly tasty for the amount of time it takes to cook. No, it is not as good as what you get in Japan in a good restaurant but pretty close.
Here is a google search on the online sources of the sauce if you can't find it locally: http://www.google.com/products?rlz=1...ed=0CDMQzAMwAg
Enjoy and let me know if you try it.