Japanese

Vegan Japanese Curry

Vegan Japanese curry is a thick, stew-like dish with chunky vegetables and slightly sweet undertones. It’s incredibly easy to make and immensely satisfying, especially on a chilly autumn or winter evening. Making Japanese curry from scratch is not complicated at all and allows you full control over the spiciness and flavour profile of your finished dish.

Vegan Japanese curry is a thick, stew-like dish with chunky vegetables and slightly sweet undertones. It’s incredibly easy to make and immensely satisfying, especially on a chilly autumn or winter evening. Making Japanese curry from scratch is not complicated at all and allows you full control over the spiciness and flavour profile of your finished dish.

I love curries of all sorts, from creamy Thai coconut curries to spicy Indian curries. Who knew that Japanese cuisine had its own curries too? (The Japan Times has an interesting article about the history of Japanese curry if you’re interested).

I had an inkling that such a thing existed after seeing the boxes of Japanese instant curry mix at my favorite place on earth (or at least my favorite place in Barcelona) – Dong Fang Asian Supermarket. However, the picture on the package looked so meaty and gross that I never thought to investigate further – until now.

Vegan Japanese curry is a thick, stew-like dish with chunky vegetables and slightly sweet undertones. It’s incredibly easy to make and immensely satisfying, especially on a chilly autumn or winter evening. Making Japanese curry from scratch is not complicated at all and allows you full control over the spiciness and flavour profile of your finished dish.

Turns out that it’s really easy to make Japanese curry sauce from scratch and it doesn’t need to have any meat in it at all! You simply need to simmer your vegetables in water or vegetable stock and make a quick roux with oil, flour and curry powder.

Add the roux to the vegetables to thicken the curry and you’ve got a deliciously hearty, satisfyingly thick and wonderfully spiced vegan Japanese curry.

What I found most interesting about the recipes I saw online was the inclusion of finely grated apple. This is why Japanese curry is sweet and popular with kids.

It’s also less spicy than other Asian curries, also making it good for kids and wimps alike. Even my husband ate it without complaining! And of course when you make curry from scratch you can adjust the level of spiciness to your taste.

Vegan Japanese curry is a thick, stew-like dish with chunky vegetables and slightly sweet undertones. It’s incredibly easy to make and immensely satisfying, especially on a chilly autumn or winter evening. Making Japanese curry from scratch is not complicated at all and allows you full control over the spiciness and flavour profile of your finished dish.

I served my vegan Japanese curry with some pickled vegetables, they were a good contrast to the sweet apple and spices. I didn’t bother going to Dong Fang to get some special Japanese pickled vegetables but rather quick pickled some radishes and ginger while the curry was cooking.

For the pickled radishes simply cover them with a mixture of two parts vinegar to one part sugar and a pinch of salt. Set aside to pickle.

For the pickled ginger, first boil thinly sliced ginger for 5 minutes to remove some of the bite, drain and cover with them with the same vinegar-sugar-salt mixture. I also added a couple drops of natural beet food colouring for the typical pink colour of pickled ginger.

Vegan Japanese Curry

Vegan Japanese Curry

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Vegan Japanese curry is a thick, stew-like dish with chunky vegetables and slightly sweet undertones. Making Japanese curry from scratch is not complicated at all and allows you full control over the spiciness and flavour profile of your finished dish.

Ingredients

For the vegan Japanese curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cups (1 litre) of water or vegetable stock
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, chopped into chunks
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated finely (I used a fuji)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ cup (75 grams) frozen peas or edamame
  • Rice, to serve
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Sesame seeds

For the roux

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala*
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil and onions. Fry until beginning to brown. Add the water or vegetable stock, carrots, potatoes, apple, salt and garam masala. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the roux by heating the oil in a small pot over medium-low heat. Add the flour, garam masala and curry powder and mix well. Then add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring continuously, until the roux sticks together in a ball and starts to crumble apart. Remove from heat.
  3. When the vegetables are ready, ladle some of the liquid into the pot with the roux and mix well to dissolve all the flour. Add into the curry and mix until the curry is thick. Add the frozen peas.
  4. Serve the curry with rice and pickled vegetables on the side, if desired. Sprinkle with sliced green onion and sesame seeds.

Notes

*I mix my own garam masala and curry powder and I don’t use any chili. Commercial spice mixes are often spicy so you may want to omit the cayenne pepper if that’s the case.

Adapted and veganized from Serious Eats

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 487 Total Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1047mg Carbohydrates: 71g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 12g Protein: 12g

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    PJK
    December 8, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Sounds great, keen to try… How many did this serve… 2 / 4? Thanks for your recipes!

    • Reply
      Melissa
      December 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      This will serve 4 with rice. Let me know how you like it 🙂

      • Reply
        PJK
        December 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

        Thanks Melissa, we loved it! The reason for my question is because I was feeding 5 and was sceptical that the recipe would stretch to 4, but I was pleasantly surprised how filling it was, I suppose because I’ve never used a Roux before! We really enjoyed it but agreed we’ll have a greater variety of vegetables in there next time and perhaps only a little potato. The rice I made was too much (as a result of the filling roux and the potatoes) so we used it over the weekend for our 3rd Pineapple Fried Rice – an amazing recipe which we can’t get enough of, thanks!
        Paul

        • Reply
          Melissa
          December 14, 2016 at 12:08 pm

          Great, so glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely a recipe that you can add other veggies to and adapt to your taste. Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    February 7, 2017 at 10:29 am

    BThank you so much for this recipe. It was delicious and so easy. I left out the cayenne and added mushrooms.

  • Reply
    Rita
    September 19, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    What would be a good substitute for garam masala? There is none at the supermarkets near me.

    • Reply
      Melissa
      September 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      You can try mixing your own. There are different recipes for it, find one that uses more or less what you have in your spice rack.

  • Reply
    Dee
    January 9, 2018 at 3:23 am

    Stopped eating those Golden Curry boxed mixes because of the high amount of sodium and msg . We knew it wasn’t good for us. Thank you so much for a tasty recipe. I prepared this with your measured cayenne. I loved it but it was too spicy for kids and my wimpy husband, so I will omit for next time. Didnt get to pickle our radishes but will do so tomorrow with leftovers. Can’t wait! Recipe is a keeper, taste so good and was simple to make. Well done!

  • Reply
    KT
    March 6, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Fabulous recipe! I have missed Japanese curry since I lived there. Like others, I love the Golden Curry mix but just can’t eat those bad ingredients. This recipe really does taste authentic! I used the purchased garam masala, and 1/2 tsp. of cayenne. It really is spicy, and I love spicy. Defs omit the cayenne for those who aren’t so big on spicy.

    • Reply
      Melissa
      March 12, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      So glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    Graça Sena
    April 6, 2018 at 12:40 am

    I love this blog! The recipes, the photos, everything!

  • Reply
    Michelle
    February 2, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Fantastic recipe, it’s now a staple of mine! I especially like it with aubergine and green beans 🙂

  • Reply
    Helen
    February 23, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Hi Melissa, I’ve just made this recipe and it’s fabulous! Tastes great and so quick and easy. Our family have been to Japan a few times and the flavours of this curry really take us back there. Will definitely be sharing this recipe and your lovely blog with my friends.

  • Reply
    Gwen
    February 24, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    I was a bit nervous this wouldn’t work out because I made my own curry powder and I stupidly dumped some curry leaves in because I assumed curry powder = curry leaves before I looked it up (spoiler, they are totally different). However, it turned out AMAZING! I had no idea I could make this so easily. Thanks so much for the recipe Melissa. Added to my list of things I cook forever

  • Reply
    saBEE
    March 9, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    It is an absolutely delicious dish! Served it with an Asian slaw, pickled ginger and kimchi. Shared it with 2 others who were raved about it. One commented that he could eat this every day. Thank you for the recipe. It is definitely going to be a staple for us. Truly loved it.

  • Reply
    Cho
    April 25, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Which flour did you use for the roux? I’m looking for gluten-free alternative for the usual flour. Could you suggest any?

    • Reply
      Melissa
      April 29, 2019 at 9:07 am

      I use all-purpose flour. Sorry, I don’t know anything about gluten-free flours. Maybe someone else will be able to help you.

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