Vegan Japanese Curry

Japanese curries are delicious – slightly sweet, slightly spicy, all-around amazing. A lot of recipes, this one included, involve making a kind of curry-roux before adding the vegetables and liquid. A little bit more work than most curries, but well worth the effort! Serve this curry on a bed of rice or with some potato croquettes (I have a recipe for those too!) to make it a full meal.

This is a slight variation on your traditional recipes, so I can’t claim it to be authentic, but it sure is good!

Prep time: ~1  hour
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

For the curry roux:

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced.
  • 2 tbsp ginger, peeled and finely minced.
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • 1/4 cup flour.
  • 2 tbsp curry powder.
  • 1 tsp garam masala.
  • 1-2 tsp crushed chilies.
  • black pepper.
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste.
  • 2 tsp soy sauce.

For the rest of the curry:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-cm chunks.
  • 2 potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 1-cm chunks.
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water.
  • 1 tsp soy sauce.
  • 1 Chinese eggplant, cut into 1-cm chunks.
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled (if desired), and grated.
  • 1/2 cup peas, defrosted if frozen.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil on medium-low. When it’s hot enough, add in the garlic and ginger and fry until just fragrant. Next, add in the flour, curry powder, and garam masala. Stir until you have a thick paste, then add in the chilies, black pepper, soy, and tomato paste.

Keep cooking the roux, stirring until it just starts to get a little bit drier and crumbly. Remove it from the heat and set aside.

Put the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Fry them until they begin to caramelize, then add in the carrots and potatoes. Fry them for a few minutes, then add in the stock and soy sauce.

Bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes before adding in the apple and eggplant.

Once the vegetables are all tender, loosen up the roux with a little bit of the cooking liquid before pouring it into the rest of the curry. Stir well, until the roux has completely dissolved into the rest of the stew.

Let the curry continue to simmer, and once it begins to thicken a little, add in the peas. Taste for seasoning, adding more soy sauce or pepper if desired, and enjoy!

This curry is also delicious when cold.

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Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

What I like to call “hipster salad”. Very easy to make, all things considered, and quite tasty! I’ve made something similar at work before, and it was popular. If you’re serving to a larger group of people, I recommend using brightly coloured vegetables for a bit of contrast with the greens.

Prep time: ~30 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 6-8, generously

Ingredients:

  • Several large handfuls of greens (kale, arugula, spinach, mixed greens, whatever!)
  • An assortment of vegetables – red and yellow bell pepper, eggplant, and zucchini are nice.
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil.
  • salt and pepper.
  • 1 cup quinoa (any kind of quinoa will do!)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider or balsamic vinegar.
  • 1 shallot, finely diced/pureed.
  • 2 tbsp mustard (Dijon or whole grain are best).
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup.
  • 1 cup olive oil.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 1-2 cm ginger, peeled and finely diced/pureed.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C). Slice your vegetables quite thinly, you want them to roast off pretty quickly. Seperate the peppers from the other vegetables – you want to cook them for a little bit longer than everything else. Drizzle everything with olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and toss briefly before popping it in the oven.

While the vegetables roast, time to cook the quinoa. Use 2 cups water for every 1 cup quinoa. Heat in a pot on high heat, with a splash of oil and a little pinch of salt, until boiling. Turn the heat down to low, and wait until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool.

When your vegetables are nicely roasted (and you want your peppers to be nearly black!), take them out of the oven, and set aside to cool as well.

Now, make the dressing: place everything but the oil into a bowl, then slowly pour in the oil, mixing well as you go. You can also use a food processor or an immersion blender if you want it to emulsify perfectly. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as desired.

When the vegetables and quinoa are mostly cool, place them in a large bowl with the salad greens. Toss everything together. Add the salad dressing just as you serve, or better yet, have the dressing on the side, and allow everyone to add as much dressing as they like.

Curried Eggplant and Chickpeas

Not a traditional curry in the least, but it’s yummy! The chickpeas add a nice amount of protein to this dish. This is also quite a quick meal to make, so it’s good for a weekday!

Prep time: ~25 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed to remove excess starch.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, sliced, with the juice reserved.
  • 1 Chinese eggplant, cut into half moons.
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder.
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water.
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, shredded.
  • Hot sauce, to taste.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:
Place your rice in a rice cooker with the appropriate amount of water, a little bit of oil, and some salt, and turn it on.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, then place the rice in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water, a little bit of oil, and some salt, and bring to a boil.
Stir the rice once, then cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the water is absorbed, and then take the pot off the heat. Let it stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and fragrant.
Then stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, and curry powder. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes.
Next, add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and hot sauce (if you’re using it), and cook until they’re warmed through.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the basil. Fluff the rice with a fork, and serve the vegetables on a bed of rice. Enjoy!

Coconut Noodles

Very loosely inspired by a Thai dish I once had. If you can’t find Chinese eggplant, I’d just leave it out, since Italian eggplant wouldn’t work too well in this dish.  Be careful not to overcook the rice noodles! They’ll end up mushy. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

Prep time: ~20 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ~300 g rice noodles.
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil.
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste.
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk.
  • 1 tbsp chili paste.
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, some set aside to garnish.
  • 1 Chinese eggplant, cut into thin half-moons.
  • 1 cup bean sprouts.
  • 1 large handful Thai basil leaves (leave small ones intact, tear up the larger ones), plus some to garnish.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinsing the noodles with a bit of cold water to prevent them from overcooking, and set aside.

Place a large saucepan on medium-high heat, and add the sesame oil. When hot, add the scallions, and eggplant, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften.

Next, add the coconut milk, tomato paste, and chili paste. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often to prevent it from sticking, then add the basil leaves and bean sprouts.

Reduce the heat and simmer for about three minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.

Stir the rice noodles into the sauce and toss to coat well, and serve immediately, garnishing with a few extra basil leaves and the green onions.

Ratatouille

The famous French dish that an adorable movie was named for. While not as pretty-looking as the dish served in said movie, this dish sure is delicious, and very healthy! If tomatoes aren’t in season, use a can of whole tomatoes. A combination of my parents’ recipes, adjusted to my personal preferences. Another one-pot meal, so easy cleanup!

Delicious served on its own, or over pasta or rice, if you want to make it a little more substantial. I’ll also toss in a can of cooked chickpeas sometimes if I want a little more protein (rinse the chickpeas well, and add them in at the same time as the tomatoes). This dish is just as good the next day as leftovers!

Prep time: ~30 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly diced.
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 bell pepper, seeds removed, roughly diced.
  • 1 small eggplant (Chinese or Italian, both kinds work well), sliced into small pieces.
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half-moons.
  • 1 can whole plain tomatoes, or ~6 ripe tomatoes, chopped.
  • 1 handful herbs (basil, oregano, herbes de provence, thyme, and rosemary are all nice).
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in large pot on medium heat. Add the onion, saute for two minutes, and then add the garlic. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, then add the bell pepper, and continue cooking for 3 minutes.

Next, add the eggplant. When the eggplant begins to soften, add the zucchini, and once that starts to become tender, add the tomatoes and the herbs.

Once it comes to a bubble, reduce the heat, add your salt and pepper, and allow to simmer until everything is tender and the flavors have mingled nicely.