Take on the takeaway with this Japanese-style curry
Yasai katsu curry: a flavourful, nutrient-rich vegetarian dish
Lilly Higgins’s yasai katsu curry
Katsu curry is a real hybrid of a dish. Most dishes have a colourful history with influences from around the world coming together to create a dish that is now so familiar to us. Curry was introduced to Japan during the Meiji era (1868-1912) by the British.
It is now one of the most popular foods in Japan, with curry being consumed at least once a week in the average household. In the early 1800s the British created “curry” themselves by blending spices to replicate the dishes they came across in northern India. So “curry” is quite a colonial term and often a vast array of very differing dishes are referred to as curries.
In the UK, chicken tikka masala is one of the countries national dishes. It was created specifically for the UK market being sweet, mildly spiced and creamy. Pure fusion food.
While chicken or pork are most popular for katsu curries, I love the vegetable version. Yasai katsu involves slices of aubergine that become meltingly delicious inside their deep-fried crumb coating once cooked, and the sweet potato slices retain a little texture and are perfect for dipping into the sauce. I add a few different vegetables to my curry sauce for flavour and nutrients.
This westernised “curry” is usually based on a roux sauce. Melted butter and flour are used to thicken the sauce and then a blend of spices are added. I love the Green Saffron Spices brand and use its garam masala, complete with rose petals, for adding fresh, zippy flavour.
Yasai katsu curry (Serves 6)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely diced
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp curry powder
300ml stock or water
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 aubergine, sliced into .5-inch thick slices
2 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into .5-inch thick slices
2 eggs, whisked with 2 tbsp water
150g plain flour
250g panko breadcrumbs
150ml vegetable oil or sunflower oil for frying
To serve: Plain boiled rice
Melt the coconut oil in a medium-sized heavy based pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Sauté till the onion is soft. Add the yellow pepper, carrot and apple. Place the lid on and leave to cook for a few minutes before adding the curry powder. Stir to coat everything well and toast the spices a little. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes till the carrot is cooked. Add the soy sauce, tomato puree and coriander. Remove the curry from the heat and allow to cool a little. Blitz the curry till smooth using a handheld blender or use a food processor.
Meanwhile, melt 1tbsp of coconut oil in a heavy based pan. Add 1tbsp of plain flour and stir well to form a smooth paste. Leave on the heat for a few minutes to cook. Gradually add the smooth curry back into the pan, whisking as you do so no lumps form. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce or a little sugar as necessary. Keep warm and set aside.
Get three shallow bowls and place the flour in one, beaten egg in the other and breadcrumbs in the last. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan. Dip the vegetable slices into the flour, egg, breadcrumbs and then cook in the oil for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Serve whilst still piping hot with the rice and curry sauce.