This Vegan Japanese Curry is a staple in our house! It’s full of flavor, super cozy on a cold day, and ridiculously easy to make. If you’ve never had Japanese curry before, now’s definitely the time to try it. It’s basically a thick stew full of potatoes, carrots, and onions with flavor that’s reminiscent of other curries but with a uniquely rich flair.
My sister makes this for me every time we visit them in San Diego and she finally sent over the full recipe for me to adapt! I usually end up cooking a batch of my tofu katsu along with the curry since it’s just the best combination.
Why You’ll Love this Japanese Curry Recipe
- It’s extremely easy to make. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to cook. All you need is one pot and a little bit of patience. Seriously, the ratio of deliciousness to cleanup time is incredible!
- It’s cozy and comforting. A big bowl of this curry on a winter day can make you forget that it’s cold, gray, and sad outside.
- It’s versatile. You can alter this dish in so many ways! Feel free to play around with different additions each time you make it.
Ingredients for Vegan Japanese Curry
- Japanese curry roux. This is the base of the curry. It will provide a ton of the flavor, spice, and texture of the sauce. These cubes also contain flour, which will help the curry thicken up as it cooks. (This also means it’s not gluten-free, unfortunately.) You can find more info on these curry cubes below.
- Yukon gold potatoes. This variety of potato is ideal for soups and stews because they don’t fall apart as they cook. As they cook, they get soft and creamy on the inside while still maintaining their structure.
- Carrots. Big chunks of carrots are great for this stew-like curry.
- Garlic and onion. The aromatics for this dish. The onion in this recipe is going to be cut into large chunks, just like the potatoes and carrots.
- Soy sauce. To add salt and that classically delicious fermented flavor.
- Ketchup and vegan Worcestershire sauce. Adding these condiments will add a little touch of sweetness along with some extra umami.
- Curry powder. “Curry” is in the name of the dish, so it can’t hurt to add a little more.
- Instant coffee (optional). This is an optional ingredient, but it does add a subtle depth of flavor if you add it. A little goes a long way!
- Oil. For sautéing our aromatics.
- Water. The Japanese curry cubes have enough flavor that we don’t need to use vegetable broth in this recipe.
How to Make Vegan Japanese Curry
- Sauté onions over medium-high heat until translucent. Add in garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add potatoes, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to low. Simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and add in Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, instant coffee, and curry powder. Mix until everything has dissolved.
- Break up curry roux into cubes and add. Keeping the heat off, stir in curry roux cubes until completely dissolved. We don’t want any lumps of roux in there!
- Set pot back over low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. With the lid still off, simmer for 5-10 more minutes, stirring often, until the curry is as thick as you’d like it.
- Now it’s ready to enjoy! See Serving Suggestions for my favorite ways to eat vegan Japanese curry.
What is Japanese Curry Roux & Where Can I Find It?
The curry cubes used in this recipe are a mixture of oil, flour, sugar, spices, and herbs. They are incredibly flavorful and since they contain flour, they’ll help thicken the stew as it cooks. Some recipes call for Japanese curry powder, but I find that the curry cubes are just plain easier since you don’t have to make your own roux.
The flavor of these cubes come from spices such as pepper, chili pepper, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, and cinnamon (among others).
Our go-to brand for Japanese curry cubes is S&B Golden Curry. I love these because they’re vegan-friendly and widely available. You can find them at popular stores such as Target, Walmart, and Kroger. (S&B also has another vegan-friendly variety called Tasty Curry, but we haven’t tried it.)
Other popular varieties include Java Curry, Vermont Curry, and Kokumaro Curry, all by the House brand. Unfortunately, all of these contain animal products.
Sarah’s Recipe Notes
- Find your perfect consistency. During the final simmer, feel free to add a little bit of water at a time if you find that your curry is too thick. This will depend solely on your preferences.
- Play around with additions! Japanese curry is a great playground for different flavors. Sudachi Recipes actually has a whole section about “secret ingredients” you can add to your curry. Some examples (that I need to try!) include grated apple, dark chocolate, and ginger.
There are so many great ways to serve Japanese curry! Here are some of my favorites:
- With rice. The simplest and most classic way to serve this recipe.
- Vegan katsu curry. This is probably my favorite way to serve this dish. Most of the time I make it, I also whip up a batch of my Crispy Tofu Katsu. It’s just such a perfect pairing that it’s hard to beat!
- With added protein. If you want your curry a little heartier, you can add in a protein of your choice. Our favorite additions are Beyond or Impossible ground beef. You can also use TVP rehydrated in beef-style bouillon.
- All you have to do is brown your protein of choice in the oil at the very beginning of the process. Then add in your onions and follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- Topped with cheese. Okay, if you want to get real savory, you can top your bowl of piping hot curry with a handful of shredded vegan cheese.
Storage and Reheating
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Just make sure that the curry cools off a little bit before putting it away. To reheat, cook on the stove over low-medium heat or pop in the microwave, stirring occasionally.
You can also freeze this recipe, but the potatoes and carrots will change consistency when reheated and it won’t be as good as when it’s fresh. But if you need to freeze it, you technically can!
To thaw, place frozen curry in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it in a pot over low-medium heat. You can also use the microwave, making sure to stir every minute or so.
More Vegan Soups & Stews
Vegan Japanese Curry
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and cut into large pieced
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into large cubes
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (optional)
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 (3.5 oz) box Japanese curry roux
- In a heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add in onions and sauté 3-5 minutes, or until translucent.
- Add in garlic and sauté for another minute, constantly stirring to make sure it doesn't stick or burn.
- Add potatoes, carrots, and water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and reduce to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender (easily pierced with a fork).
- Remove the lid and turn off the heat. Add in Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, instant coffee, and curry powder. Stir until dissolved.
- Now break up the curry roux into cubes and add into the pot. With the heat still off, add all the roux and stir gently until it has dissolved completely. (Double check that there are no lumps of roux.)
- Turn the heat back on to low and return the curry to a gentle simmer with the lid off. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the curry reaches your desired thickness.
- Serve with rice and enjoy! I also love to serve with my Crispy Tofu Katsu.