Eggplant Katsu Curry

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!

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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.
Fried Eggplant Slices on a Paper Towel-Lined Plate
  • 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.
Close Up of Eggplant Katsu Curry on a Plate

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.

Overhead View of a Plate of Eggplant Katsu Curry with Chopsticks at the Side

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Plate of Vegan Katsu Curry Over Rice

Print

Eggplant Katsu Curry

Crispy panko-crusted eggplant slices stand in for meat in this scrumptious vegan katsu curry. This comforting meatless meal is loaded with flavor!
Course Entree
Cuisine American, Japanese
Keyword eggplant recipe, vegan curry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 341kcal
Author Alissa

Ingredients

For the Curry Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Japanese curry powder*, plus more to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce

For the Eggplant Katsu:

  • 1 pound eggplant, about 2 Japanese eggplants or 1 small Italian eggplant, sliced into ¼ to ½ inch thick slabs

For the Batter:

  • ½ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Breading

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

For Frying:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more as needed

For Serving:

  • Cooked Rice
  • Chopped scallions
  • Sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Begin by making the curry sauce. Coat the bottom of a medium pot with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, and curry powder and continue to sauté for about 1 minute until very fragrant.
  • Add the flour and stir until it coats the onions relatively evenly. Stir in the water, tomato paste, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Raise heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens up a bit. 
  • While the sauce cooks, prepare the eggplant Katsu. Whisk the batter ingredients together in a shallow bowl and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to thicken up. Meanwhile, stir the breading ingredients together in another shallow bowl. 
  • Coat the bottom of a large skillet generously with oil and place it over medium heat.
  • When the oil is hot, grab an eggplant slice and dip both sides into the batter. Next, dredge each side in the breading. Transfer the slice to the skillet. Repeat for as many slices as will fit into the skillet without crowding.
  • Cook the eggplant for about 5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown. Transfer the cooked slices to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add oil to the skillet as needed and continue coating and cooking the eggplant slices until all are cooked.
  • Divide rice onto plates and top with eggplant slices, then cover the eggplant slices with the sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve.

Notes

If you can’t find Japanese curry powder, a mixture of regular curry powder and garam masala will work as a substitute.

Nutrition information does not include accompaniments.

Nutrition

Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.6g | Protein: 5.7g | Fat: 21.6g | Saturated Fat: 4.1g | Sodium: 1076mg | Potassium: 502mg | Fiber: 6.7g | Sugar: 7.7g | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg

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