Vegetarian Katsu Curry or a Yasai Curry is one of my favourite vegetarian recipes. I’ll never forget the first time I had a Katsu Curry, it was a few years ago at a Wasabi in London and since then we’ve been hooked. It’s something I just have to have every time we go into town, which isn’t that often anymore given our current lockdown protocol.
As a family, we’re actively eating less meat with the aim to reduce our carbon footprint and improve health. So I wanted to make a vegetarian alternative to the more traditional chicken version and was pleasantly surprised. After extensive testing, we’ve come up with this Vegetarian Katsu Curry / Yasai Curry recipe.
The Secret Sauce
When it comes to making a Vegetarian Katsu the secret lies in the sauce. You have to get the ratios just right, too much coconut milk and it becomes too rich, too little and it will be a bit bland. The sauce also requires a bit of sweetness, the carrot does the trick here providing natural sweetness. Think of this sauce as a little dance between ingredients, creating the perfect synchronised flavour.
Getting the Fritters Just Right
Some people make their vegetarian katsu with tofu or crumbed vegetables, but I like the crunch of the chickpea option below more. You can use this recipe for veggie chicken nuggets as well or in a salad. Using this method gives a flavoursome fritter and yes we’re being brave and we’re shallow frying those bad boys.
Katsu Curry is a true example of global cookery influence between nations and is a celebration of flavour as curry was brought to Japan from India by the British. Yes, we have a complete infatuation with curry here in the UK, so much so that we have taken it upon ourselves to spread it far and wide.
Can a Katsu Curry be Vegetarian?
Katsu really means chicken so a vegetarian katsu isn’t exactly the correct name here. Yasai Curry is closer to accurate but most people still think of it as a Katsu Curry.
Vegetarian Katsu Curry with Chickpea Fritters
Japanese Curry Sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 finely chopped organic onion
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 2.5 cm piece of ginger grated
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp heaped mild curry powder
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 finely chopped carrot
- 300 ml organic vegetable stock
- 125 ml organic coconut milk
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
Yasai Hiyoko Mame (Vegetable Chickpea)
- 1 400g can organic chickpeas
- 100 g golden breadcrumbs
- 1 organic pasture-raised egg or vegan egg replacement
- 1 finely chopped spring onion
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- Place the oil, onions, garlic and ginger in a pan and fry over medium heat until the onions soften. Add the curry powder and turmeric and stir until the spices become aromatic.
- Lower the heat, add the flour and gently stir but be careful not to burn. Add the carrots and vegetable stock, keep stirring. Then add the coconut milk and finish with the soy sauce. Simmer on low heat until the carrots are nice and soft. This should take around 30 mins.
- Once the carrot has softened, you can use a stick blender to smooth out the sauce. Or serve as-is for a more chunky texture.
Make the Chickpea Fritters
- Drain the chickpeas. In a small bowl, roughly mash them, add the egg, chopped spring onion and 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs. Let it rest for a minute or two.
- With your hands form them into a flat chicken nugget type shape. Then roll them in the breadcrumbs making sure to coat all sides well.
- Shallow fry in roughly 1cm of oil on each side until golden. Try to keep the turning to once to minimise breaking.
- Serve the curry with rice and a serving of Japanese pickled veggies (optional)
Yes absolutely, check the recipe notes for tips on making the fritters vegan.
Yes, of course, you can. It won’t taste exactly the same, but tikka masala or hot curry powder will work just as well. Hot curry powder will of course be spicier that the mild option listed.