Curry Onigiri: How to Make This Flavorful Fusion Dish at Home

Imagine biting into a warm, fragrant ball of rice that explodes with the rich flavors of curry—welcome to the world of curry onigiri! This delightful twist on the traditional Japanese rice ball infuses the hearty, comforting taste of curry into a portable, hand-held snack. It’s a fusion that marries the simplicity of Japanese cuisine with the bold spices typically found in Indian dishes, creating a truly unique eating experience.


Here’s what you’ll need to create your delicious curry onigiri, where the comforting warmth of curry meets the classic Japanese rice ball.

For the Curry Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Rice

  • 2 cups sushi or short-grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the Serving

  • Sesame seeds, toasted
  • Scallions, finely chopped
  • Pickled ginger, for serving
  • Nori (seaweed) strips, for wrapping

Equipment Needed

To craft your delicious curry onigiri, it’s essential to have the right tools on hand. Ensure you’re prepared with the following items to streamline the cooking process and achieve the best results:

  • Rice Cooker: An indispensable tool for cooking rice to perfect fluffiness for your onigiri. If you don’t have a rice cooker, a regular pot with a tight-fitting lid will suffice.
  • Non-Stick Skillet: Ideal for cooking your curry filling. A skillet ensures even heating and helps prevent the curry from sticking and burning, preserving the flavors of your ingredients.
  • Cutting Board and Sharp Knife: For finely chopping your onions, garlic, and any other toppings like scallions or pickled ginger you decide to add.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is key in cooking, especially for measuring out your curry powder, soy sauce, and olive oil.
  • Mixing Bowl: Needed for mixing the cooked rice with curry and seasonings, ensuring each grain is beautifully coated.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon: These will help you stir your curry mixture effectively without scraping your skillet.
  • Plastic Wrap: A helpful tool for molding and shaping the rice into balls without it sticking to your hands.
  • Nori Sheets and Scissors: For cutting nori strips that will wrap around your onigiri, adding a crisp texture and sea flavor.

Having these tools at the ready will not only simplify each step but also enhance your cooking experience, making it easy to enjoy the art of making curry onigiri.


Get ready to bring the comforting flavors of curry and the traditional appeal of onigiri together. Follow these steps closely to ensure each onigiri turns out perfectly.

Cooking the Rice

  1. Rinse 2 cups of short-grain rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This step is crucial as it removes excess starch, preventing the rice from becoming too sticky.
  2. Soak the washed rice in water for 30 minutes, which helps achieve the perfect texture. Drain well.
  3. Add the rice to your rice cooker. Pour in 2 1/4 cups of water, using the line marked inside the cooker as a guide if available.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker and select the ‘white rice’ setting if it has multiple options. Allow the cooker to do the work. Once the rice is cooked, it will switch off automatically.
  5. Let the rice rest in the cooker without opening the lid for another 10 minutes. This allows the rice to finish cooking in the residual steam, enhancing the texture.
  6. Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Using a rice paddle or a wide wooden spoon, gently fold the rice to let excess steam escape. This will prevent the rice from becoming mushy. Allow it to cool slightly before you start making onigiri.

Making Curry Filling

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add 1 finely chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves to the skillet. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Incorporate 1/2 pound of ground chicken or turkey into the skillet. Break the meat into small pieces with your spatula as it cooks.
  4. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of curry powder over it. Stir well to ensure the meat is evenly coated with the spices.
  5. Pour in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to add depth to the flavor, mixing everything thoroughly for about 2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  6. Remove the skillet from heat and let the curry filling cool to a manageable temperature before you start assembling your onigiri.

Assembling the Curry Onigiri

Now that you have your flavorful curry filling and perfectly cooked rice, it’s time to assemble your curry onigiri. This part of the process is both creative and fun, allowing you to shape and personalize each rice ball.

Shaping the Onigiri

  1. Wet Your Hands: Start by wetting your hands with cold water to prevent the rice from sticking. Sprinkle a bit of salt on your palms to enhance the flavor of the onigiri.
  2. Grab Rice: Scoop about a half cup of the warm rice into your hand. Form it into a wide, flat disc. Ensure the rice disc is not too thick; this will make it easier to encase the curry filling.

Adding the Filling

  1. Place the Filling: Spoon a tablespoon of the curry filling into the center of the rice disc. Be careful not to overfill to avoid seepage during the final shaping.
  2. Begin Enclosing: Gently bring the edges of the rice over the filling, starting from one side and working your way around. Press lightly to seal the curry inside.

Final Shaping

  1. Form the Triangle: With the filling enclosed, mold the rice into a triangle shape by pressing the edges between your palms and fingers. Alternatively, you can shape it into a ball or a cylinder, depending on your preference.
  2. Even Out: Once the basic shape is formed, continue to gently press and rotate the onigiri in your hands, smoothing out any rough edges for a uniform appearance.
  3. Wrap in Nori: For a traditional touch and extra flavor, wrap a strip of nori (seaweed) around the base or the wider sides of the triangle just before serving. This also makes the onigiri easier to hold and eat.

Serving Suggestions

After you’ve masterfully prepared your curry onigiri, choosing how to serve them enhances their appeal and complements their flavors. Here are some delightful ways to serve your curry onigiri:

Pair with Side Dishes

To make a balanced meal, serve your curry onigiri with a variety of side dishes. Pickled vegetables such as cucumber, radish, or ginger offer a refreshing contrast to the rich curry flavors. An assortment of Japanese pickles, known as tsukemono, would be particularly fitting.

Accompany with Soup

A bowl of miso soup pairs wonderfully with onigiri, providing a warm, savory liquid to soften the intense flavors of the curry. The subtle tofu and seaweed in the soup balance the spiced complexity of the onigiri.

Enjoy with Tea

Serve your curry onigiri with a pot of green tea. The slight bitterness and astringency of the tea can cleanse the palate between bites, making each taste of curry as enjoyable as the first.

Add a Salad

A light salad, perhaps with a sesame or vinaigrette dressing, can add a crunchy, fresh element to your meal. This can lighten the overall experience and complement the dense, flavorful onigiri.

Presentation Tips

Place the onigiri on a clean, minimalist plate to highlight their crafted shape. Consider using a bamboo mat or a lacquered tray for a more authentic Japanese aesthetic. Garnishing with a sprinkle of sesame seeds or a touch of wasabi can also enhance both the flavor and appearance.

Each of these suggestions not only adds to the enjoyment of eating curry onigiri but also helps in turning a simple dish into a satisfying, full meal. Whether you’re enjoying it as a quick snack or as part of a larger spread, these serving tips are sure to impress.


Ready to dive into the delightful world of curry onigiri? Whether you’re whipping up a quick snack or a unique addition to your meal spread this fusion treat is sure to impress. Remember shaping your onigiri well is key to getting that perfect bite filled with savory curry. So grab your nori set your table and get ready to enjoy a taste of innovation with every bite. Don’t forget to share your culinary creation with friends and family—they’re bound to love this twist on a classic!

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