For many households in the UK, curry night is a regular weekly treat. While meat-based curries have long been a takeaway favorite, more people are now opting for the healthier vegan alternatives and vegetarian katsu curry, whether they’re ordering in or cooking from scratch at home.
Although a large number of traditional curries feature meat or fish as their main source of protein, giving your staple spicy comfort food a vegan twist won’t make it any less epic. Vegan curries are deliciously nutritious and flavorsome and are easy to rustle up whenever your taste buds crave a mouth-watering dish that is drenched in a creamy seasoned sauce.
If you’re keen to cut down on eating meat, but have concerns that a veggie curry will fail to deliver on flavor, creaminess, and spice gratification, it’s time to put our tempting vegan classic alternatives to the taste test…
1. Butter Tofu Curry
The Northern Indian butter curry is definitely one of the top epic curry dishes from around the world. This curry showcases a flavor-packed, mildly spiced creamy tomato-based sauce, and is typically served over moist and tender chicken and alongside plain white rice.
To enjoy this tasty, easy-to-make traditional curry with a vegan twist, swap the chicken and dairy cream for tofu, and oat milk or coconut cream. It’s best to use extra-firm tofu, but pressing regular tofu for 20-30 before use works equally well. If you prefer, you can use tempeh made from fermented soybeans, instead of tofu.
Cut the tofu block into thick slices, and then tear each slice into large chunks. Coat the tofu chunks in olive oil, salt, and cornstarch, and arrange them on a baking tray without the pieces touching – for maximum crunch. Bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. To make the sauce, blend garam masala, ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, fresh ginger, garlic, vegan cream, and tomato passata,
Serve the tofu chunks smothered in the creamy butter sauce with Basmati rice garnished with lime wedges, and a side of naan to mop up the rich sauce.
2. Vegetarian Katsu Curry
If your foodie weakness is Japanese cuisine with a Western influence, vegetarian Katsu curry belongs on your must-try vegan twist menu. Traditionally made with tonkatsu (deep-fried, panko crumbed pork cutlets), Katsu curry is a dish with universal appeal. In the UK, the chicken version is fast becoming the nation’s No.1 curry option on takeaway or dining-out nights.
To tuck into a fragrant and flavourful vegan curry that is perfectly Indian spice balanced, yet mild enough to tempt picky eaters that don’t normally like spicy food, choose a plant-based alternative like smoky flavored Sgaia vegan meats, tempeh, or extra-firm tofu as your protein source. Coat in panko breadcrumbs and bake or air-fry until golden and crispy. You can also use pumpkin, sweet potato, or aubergine as the essential deep-fried element of the dish.
The Katsu’s sweet and tangy sauce is what makes this curry so epic. Curry powder, turmeric, coconut milk, plant-based milk, spring onions, garlic, coriander, and ginger blend together to create a delectable sauce that you’ll want to eat with everything!
3. Tofu Laksa
Not all epic curries are served with a side of rice. Laksa is a heavenly Malaysian curry soup that features oodles of thick rice noodles, chicken, prawns or fish, and crisp vegetables, in a mildly spiced, creamy coconut milk broth. Thai red curry paste, chili, lemongrass, tamarind, garlic, shallots, galangal, and fragrant herbs pack the heat and flavour that keeps you going back for more.
To twist this popular curry dish vegan style, omit the meat and add extra-firm fried tofu. Bean sprouts, cucumber, cilantro, fried onions and lime add freshness and texture to the curried soup. You can also add nori seaweed, in place of the Laksa’s usual fishy components, of shrimp paste and dried shrimp.
4. Vegetable Korma
Unlike vegetarian Katsu curry, which features a deep-fried, panko crumbed tofu or meat alternative cutlet as its centerpiece, this vegan twist classic curry is purely vegetable based. The lightly spiced, creamy sauce of the ever-popular Korma is the perfect accompaniment for potato, cauliflower, sweet potato, and courgette. For added texture and protein, throw in a handful of cooked chickpeas, or cashew nuts.
If you can’t handle the heat of epic curries, the lightly spiced, creamy sauce of the Southern Indian Korma will appeal to your palette. The dairy-free and gluten-free vegetable curry is spiced with roasted fennel seeds, onion, ginger, and garlic, and blended with tomato paste, shredded coconut, and coconut milk.
As spices often take some time to develop the fullness of their enriching flavour, this delicious and healthy curry is best made a day ahead. If you want to add protein, oven-baked extra-firm tofu is an excellent choice, as it soaks up the mouth-watering creamy sauce like a sponge.