Asian food

Curried away! Trying out MUJI’s new curry pouches for 5 straight days

Sophia Gonzaga

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Curried away! Trying out MUJI’s new curry pouches for 5 straight days
Butter chicken, dhal, or chicken masak lemak curry? There are 7 variants of MUJI's ready-to-eat curry pouches, only available at SM North EDSA!

MANILA, Philippines – MUJI and curry fans alike can now take home and try out MUJI’s new curry packs!

The ready-to-eat items followed the Japanese lifestyle brand’s in-store launch of its dine-in curry exclusively at SM North EDSA last June. The curry packs come in seven variants.

MUJI’s new SM North EDSA branch – which is the biggest so far in the Philippines – also hosts the largest MUJI Coffee Counter, which exclusively offers MUJI’s new curry rice meals along with coffee. The MUJI Curry line takes inspiration from Indian, Malaysian, and Thai curry recipes and blends them with the Japanese concept of curry rice, bringing to the table a hearty and comforting rice meal.

Curry in the comfort of home

The ready-to-heat-and-eat curry comes in small pouches reminiscent of sheet mask packaging, which makes them easy to fit into the freezer. All pouches are labeled with the kind of curry, as well as a five-point heat scale to indicate how spicy the dish is. MUJI says that the additive-free curry has no artifical colors or flavorings.

To prepare each dish, you have the option to put the contents of the pouch into a heat-safe container and pop it into the microwave, or simply submerge the sealed pouch in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. I went for the boiling method. Throughout the five days of curry I had at home, I found that it didn’t take too long for the pouches to thaw, which makes the preparation extra convenient.

On my first night, I had the North Indian Chicken Keema Curry (P195). After heating the pouch, I poured out the very fragrant curry into a bowl and was honestly surprised at the lack of chicken.

CHICKEN KEEMA CURRY. Photo by Sophia Gonzaga/Rappler

The keema curry contains minced chicken, garlic, ginger, and garam masala, which is a spice blend that typically consists of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, bay leaf, mace, and black pepper. Rich with these spices, the soup has a gloopy consistency and is flavorful. It also has a spiciness that builds up as you eat more, which makes its spicy score of three accurate. Paired with rice, the curry serves two people. However, I wish there were more bits of chicken to go with it to make the dish less soupy.

For lunch the following day, I had the Prawn Curry (P235), which had bamboo shoots, coconut milk, coriander, turmeric, and two pieces of shrimp. The sauce was thinner in consistency, and reminded me a bit of laksa due to the coconut milk used. This was a slightly creamy curry that wasn’t shy of the spices.

PRAWN CURRY. Photo by Sophia Gonzaga/Rappler

Just like the lack of chicken in the keema curry, I was underwhelmed with the amount of shrimp in this dish; but I did appreciate the addition of bamboo shoots. I also thought that the prawn curry was also only mildly spicy compared to the keema curry, even though they have the same spicy rating of three.

For dinner, I had the Dhal Curry (P195), which had more of a pasty consistency thanks to its main ingredient, toor dal (pigeon peas). With the beans mixed with tomatoes and spices, the flavors reminded me slightly of Mexican chili, sans the beef.

DHAL CURRY. Photo by Sophia Gonzaga/Rappler

It was a savory, warm, and hearty curry that wasn’t so spicy, even though it scored two on the spicy scale. Unlike the previous two dishes, I felt that this curry was fine without additional ingredients since the beans were generously and well incorporated into the thick stew.

The Butter Chicken Curry (P195) I had on day three was a delight, because while it still didn’t have a lot of chicken, the chunks were bigger and tender. Like most butter chicken dishes, this one contains tomatoes, cashews, and ghee, an Indian clarified butter that makes the sweet stew richer.

BUTTER CHICKEN CURRY. Photo by Sophia Gonzaga/Rappler

Like the dhal curry, it also holds a score of two on the heat scale and pairs well with rice. I also think it’s good for two people, but it would be more filling if more morsels were added to the dish.

For day four, I had the Chicken Masak Lemak (P215), which I thought stood out because of the big chunks of soft chicken and carrots.

CHICKEN MASAK LEMAK. Photo by Sophia Gonzaga/Rappler

Staying true to the traditional recipe of Malaysian origin, the curry’s aroma and flavor can be attributed to ginger, lemongrass, and a spiciness that scores three on the heat scale, complementing the rich coconut cream in the thick stew. Like the other dishes, this one serves two.

With a heat score of five out of five, I had to save the Green Curry (P215) for last. Out of all the six curry dishes I tried, this one had the runniest soup and the most morsels to bite into, with bamboo shoots, chunks of chicken, and even mushrooms.

GREEN CURRY. Photo by Sophia Gonzaga/Rappler

The recipe is of Thai origin and calls for lemon grass, coconut milk, and green chili, which gives the curry a spicy kick that doesn’t hold back.

All of MUJI’s curry pouches are priced at P195 and above, and while they’re all packed with their own distinct flavors, I think they’re a bit too expensive for what you’re getting. Having to add more ingredients – whether that be meat or vegetables – to “beef up” the stew defeats the purpose of an easy-to-prepare or ready-to-eat product. However, I think that the curry pouch works best as a soup/sauce base that you can build on to suit your taste. In fact, MUJI shares different ways you can level up their curry dishes on the website.

All varieties of MUJI Curry, including the Malaysian Chicken Curry (P215), are only available at the MUJI’s SM North EDSA located on the second floor of the North Towers. You can buy them in curry pouches or enjoy them freshly-cooked via dine-in.

MUJI, a minimalistic lifestyle retail company, was founded in Japan in 1980, at first selling school supplies and kitchen items. It has since expanded to several other countries with thousands of household products to sell, including food.

In 2010, MUJI came to Manila, putting up a flagship store in Bonifacio Global City. They now also have branches in SM Mall of Asia, Greenbelt 3, Power Plant Mall, and Shangri-La Plaza. –

Sophia Gonzaga is a Rappler intern.

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