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Crispy panko-crusted eggplant slices stand in for meat in this scrumptious vegan katsu curry. This comforting meatless meal is loaded with flavor!

Have you ever had katsu curry? It’s a Japanese dish, traditionally made with a panko-crusted and fried slice of meat topped with curry sauce and served over rice. Everything but the meat sounded really good to me, so I decided to create a vegan version!

Eggplant makes a wonderful meat substitute in a dish like katsu curry — it fries up beautifully and goes great with the flavors of Japanese curry sauce.

Let’s talk about how it’s made!

Jump to:
  • What You’ll Need
  • How to Make Vegan Katsu Curry
  • Leftovers & Storage
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More Japanese-Inspired Vegan Recipes
  • Eggplant Katsu Curry

What You’ll Need

  • Vegetable oil. Feel free to substitute just about any high-heat oil, such as peanut, corn, or canola.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Ginger.
  • Flour. The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but it will also work with whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour.
  • Japanese curry powder. I like S&B brand, which is available at lots of supermarkets. If you can’t find Japanese curry powder, try using a mixture of regular curry powder (something like McCormick or Trader Joe’s brand) and garam masala.
  • Water.
  • Tomato paste.
  • Soy sauce. Feel free to substitute tamari or liquid aminos.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Annie’s, Edward & Sons, and Whole Foods brands are all vegan.
  • Eggplant. Just about any variety will work. I recommend sticking with smaller eggplants. Tip: If your eggplant is larger, a bit old, or shows browning when you cut into it, consider salting it to remove any bitterness.
  • Non-dairy milk. Just about any variety that’s unsweetened and unflavored will work.
  • Ground flaxseed. Ground chia seed will work as a substitute.
  • Salt.
  • Panko breadcrumbs.
  • Cooked rice. I like serving this dish with a sticky, short-grain white rice.
  • Scallions.
  • Toasted sesame seeds.

How to Make Vegan Katsu Curry

The following is a summary of how to make this dish, along with some pro tips. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the full recipe.

  • Begin by making the sauce: sweat some onion in oil for a few minutes, then add ginger, garlic, and curry powder. Cook the spices briefly, just until the mixture becomes fragrant. Be careful: sautéing your spices too long can make them bitter.
  • Stir in the flour until it coats the onions, then add water, tomato paste, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes to thicken it up.
  • Now bread and cook the eggplant. Mix up a batter from the milk, flour, flaxseeds and salt. Mix up a breading from panko breadcrumbs and flour.
  • Cut your eggplant into thin slices, then batter and bread both sides of each slice. Fry the slices in a bit of oil for a few minutes on each side, until they’re golden and crispy. Tip: eggplant really absorbs oil, so make sure you’re using enough of it. It should be between ⅛ and ¼ inch deep before you add your eggplant. Add oil to the pan between batches if it dries up.
  • To serve, spoon some rice on a plate and arrange the fried eggplant slices on top. Spoon the sauce over the eggplant, then sprinkle everything with chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Leftovers & Storage

Eggplant katsu curry is best served right away, as it won’t stay crispy for long. If you do have leftovers, they’ll keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

I haven’t made a gluten-free version myself, but if you’d like to try, I’d recommend subbing all-purpose flour with a gluten-free blend, using gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce, and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.

I don’t like eggplant. Is there a substitute?

Try zucchini, summer squash, or tofu.

Can this recipe be made oil-free?

Possibly, but I don’t recommend it, as the coating will probably turn out soggy and gummy. If you’d like to experiment with a reduced oil version, try lightly spraying your breaded eggplant with oil and baking it using a method similar to the one in this tofu nuggets recipe.

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