World Bento Tour: Japanese Curry and Soy-Glazed Pumpkin

After our sheer glee at our inaugural Scandinavian bento, with it’s meatballs and dreamy, creamy dill potatoes (Simran’s still talking about them!), we decided our next stop on our world bento tour should be Japan and a more traditional take. To me this is comfort food at its finest: a home-style chicken curry; sweet-salty-sticky soy-glazed pumpkin; a few crisp vegetables; sweet, juicy citrus; and a meltingly soft piece of pineapple mochi for dessert. It’s a like a big fat hug in bento form.

We’ll be sharing the recipes for the curry and the pumpkin very soon, so stay tuned, but in the meantime, we’d love your suggestions about where to go next. Argentina? Thailand? Italy? The possibilities are endless.

Pineapple Mochi

Kid Friendly Green Curry?

It is tough to think of green curry as kid friendly but at our house, it is one of our favorites.  Ever since we had Ria, I have been tinkering with recipes to make them suitable for little palates and it seems to have paid off.  I can now add increasing amounts of spices and even chillies.  I added 3 serrano peppers (seeds and all) to the version I made recently and it was eaten by the munchkin with gusto.  The coconut milk also tempers the spices and chilli flavor a great deal.

Making your own green curry paste at home is not as daunting as it seems.  Do not be intimated by the long list of ingredients as I often am when I look at a longish recipe.  The toughest part of making this recipe is getting all the ingredients together.  You can make an extra large batch in your food processor and freeze it in little baggies.  If you are going through the trouble of using the food processor you might as well put it to good use.  On days you want a quick and satisfying meal, just buy some fresh chicken/seafood/pork and/or vegetables and tofu and you will have dinner in a flash.

Green Curry Chicken

Serves 2 adults and 2 kids


For green curry paste:

1 large handful of basil

1 large handful of cilantro

2 cloves garlic

4 shallots or 1 medium onion roughly chopped

1 inch piece of ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp soy sauce/fish sauce

1 jalapeno chilli – seeded (optional)

1 tbsp oil

juice of 1 lime

For chicken curry:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 lb chicken thigh or breast meat cut into one inch cubes

2 cups chopped vegetable of choice (I used red peppers)

1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl. oz)

1/2 cup water (optional – if you like a thinner curry)

salt to taste


  1. Puree all the ingredients for the green curry paste in a food processor or blender
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and stir-fry the paste for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add the chicken and salt to taste and fry for 3-4 minutes
  4. Pour in coconut milk, water (if using) and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes to cook chicken through
  5. Continue to simmer after you add your vegetable of choice and simmer for 3-5 minutes depending on the vegetables you use and how crunchy you like them