Something that everyone seems to be completely obsessed with at the moment, regardless of whether or not they have any other intersecting interests, is Katsu curry. I am not immune to its charms, even though I’m more likely to associate curry with Indian food rather than Japanese cuisine. Additionally, I generally find that (since money can be exchanged for goods and services) there will be a local curry place that is much more capable of delivering on a promise of spice and intrigue than I am.
(On a side-note, if I get my wish of adopting a Staffie and an Italian Greyhound, I am definitely going to petition Isla to let me name them Spice and Intrigue.)
Anyway, the beginning of this story is really where most of my stories start — at Wagamama. On one of our many visits, Isla tried (and fell in love with) their vegetarian Katsu curry; it’s aubergine-based, doused in fragrant curry sauce, and served with a side of rice larger than my head. After literally months of putting it off, I finally got around to making my own version last week.
I was not disappointed.
(I mean, I’m always lowkey disappointed when I eat anything that isn’t deep-fried, but I want to live past 40, so here we find ourselves.)
This recipe was gluten-free and vegetarian but can also be made vegan with one swap, which I’ve detailed in the ingredients list. It’s also pretty mild, but if you’re a thrill-seeking spice-lover then feel free to add some cayenne. I wouldn’t, but that’s because my taste buds and I have this mutual agreement whereby I don’t kill them off and they agree to let me continue to taste things.
Aubergine Katsu Curry with Turmeric Rice (Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Non-stick/lined baking sheet; 2 x medium saucepans; 2 x small shallow bowls for coating the aubergine slices; grater; hand/stick/immersion/regular blender; implements traditionally used for cutting (knife crime is up 22% in the UK in 2018 so clearly they also have other uses though).
- 2 x 50g sachets Santa Maria corn coating (this is GF, but you can use regular breadcrumbs/panko if this doesn’t apply to you)*
- 1 large aubergine (or 2 small)
- 1 egg, beaten (vegans – replace with water drained from 1 tin of chickpeas, then beat until foaming and starting to thicken)
- 1/2 standard mug Basmati rice
- 1 standard mug water
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 tsp medium curry powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 2 tsp turmeric
- Splash of oil/cooking spray
- Salt & pepper
- This is an old song now, folks – get the oven preheating to 200 (about 390 Farenheit), put that kettle on and get one of your pans on a low heat with oil/cooking spray. Spray your baking sheet with cooking spray or rub with oil and start on the coating of your aubergine. Slice into 1cm thick rounds, discarding the ends, and get an assembly line going. You want the egg or aquafaba (chickpea water) in one shallow bowl, and the crumbs in another. Coat each slice in egg/aquafaba, then the crumbs (ensuring full coverage) and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the slices are coated, ensuring that they don’t overlap on the tray. Don’t worry if you have some of the coating left. Put in the oven for around 25 minutes (until starting to colour) while you get your rice and curry sauce on.
- Finely dice the onion and garlic, and grate the carrots (give them a scrub but don’t bother peeling them). Bung everything into the oil and let them sweat down with a pinch of salt & pepper, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes. Before you go any further with the sauce, start on your rice.
- Put your remaining pan on a medium heat and add your rice. Pour in twice the amount of boiling water (so if you were doubling this recipe it would be 1 mug rice to 2 mugs water) then add 1 tsp of the turmeric and a generous pinch of salt. Stir and put on the lid to cook for around 12-15 minutes.
- Back to your sauce. Add your remaining spices – 2 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp Garam Masala, 1 tsp turmeric – and stir, then crumble over the stock cube and pour in just enough boiled water to cover everything. Stir again, then leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Once the rice is cooked it’s time to pull everything together. Your rice is done when all the water’s been absorbed and there are little pockets of air appearing in the surface of the rice; turn off the heat and let it sit (covered) to one side while you deal with everything else. Blend your sauce until smooth, adding a bit more water for a thinner sauce if desired. Add rice to serving bowls alongside the crispy aubergine slices, and slather everything in the curry sauce.
And there you have it! An entirely inauthentic take on Katsu curry, suitable for pretty much anyone (unless you’re allergic to aubergine – is anyone actually allergic to aubergine?**).
I hope you enjoy this dish, and if you don’t – why not? There’s always room for improvement! Let me know your thoughts. Please try to keep them recipe-based though? I am not wildly interested on your opinions surrounding soft furnishings, for example. No offence.
*For my British friends, this is sold in Morrisons and is on offer at the moment – as you can imagine, my cupboards can barely take the strain.
**I’m not offering any advice on aubergine allergies, but I just remembered that a friend of mine calls them ‘glossy land-whales’ and I had to tell you all immediately.