This aubergine and sweet potato katsu curry is so delicious and way easier to make than you might think! With its silky smooth and velvety sauce, it tastes just the same as the Wagamama’s dish, so it’s like eating at the restaurant.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Crispy vegetables – we’ve refined this aubergine and sweet potato katsu curry so that the vegetables have a perfectly soft inside and are incredibly crispy and crunchy on the outside! The key is using the panko breadcrumbs and flour mix to allow the panko to stick to the sweet potato and aubergine slices.
- Silky smooth, velvety sauce – without using a blender! The trick is simple – use a sieve. This is how katsu curry sauce is actually made at Wagamama restaurants. No fancy ingredients, just hearty garlic and ginger, paired with a fragrant spice blend of curry powder and turmeric. Instead of blending these ingredients up once cooked, we pass the sauce through a sieve to create the silkiest smooth sauce.
- Based on Wagamama’s recipe – yep, this aubergine and sweet potato katsu curry is based on the actual Wagamama vegan katsu curry recipe.
- Been making it for years – like many other curries such as Tikka Masala or Massaman, we have been making sweet potato katsu curry in one form or another for years! We’ve developed and changed it over that time, as well as looking to one of our favourite restaurants for inspiration.
- Shallow frying – a tonkatsu, which is the original version of katsu curry, is made by deep frying a breaded cutlet of pork. It’s then sliced (to eliminate the need for a knife when eating) and served with Japanese curry sauce. This isn’t a traditional version, as it’s a vegan katsu curry, but we’re sticking to a similar cooking method. While we chose not to deep fry the sweet potato and aubergine slices, we are shallow frying them. In order for the panko breadcrumbs to remain intact, there needs to be a generous amount of oil, but it doesn’t need to be deep fried.
- Pre-cut strips – this is the traditional way of serving a katsu. In order to replicate the traditional deep fried cutlets, the aubergine and sweet potato are pre cut into ~1cm deep slices. That way they can be cooked quickly but are still easy to eat.
📋 Ingredient Notes
Head to the recipe card at the bottom of the page for full ingredients, amounts, directions and notes.
- Sweet Potato – in order to replicate the yasai katsu curry by Wagamama, there has to be sweet potato. If you don’t have sweet potato you can use pumpkin or butternut squash but we recommend trying to get sweet potato. It wouldn’t be a sweet potato katsu curry without it!
- Aubergine – again, in order to replicate the Wagamama Yasai Katsu, it has to be aubergine included in the recipe. This is what the original recipe uses, so we’ve stuck with it. You could substitute the aubergine for tofu if you like, but we recommend sticking with both aubergine and sweet potato for this vegan katsu!
- Curry Powder – any old curry powder is fine for this aubergine and sweet potato katsu curry. It doesn’t have to be a special Japanese blend. Bog standard curry powder works just fine.
- Coconut Milk – this is something we weren’t aware went into a katsu curry initially, as you can actually make katsu sauce using a blend of carrots, potatoes and apple, which are blended to make a smooth sauce. To keep things simple and more like the Wagamama’s dish, we’ve opted to use coconut milk. We have used light coconut milk to make the dish a bit lighter and that works well too.
- Panko breadcrumbs – also known as ‘Japanese breadcrumbs’ as they are synonymous with katsu! To make a traditional style sweet potato and aubergine katsu curry, you’ll need to use panko breadcrumbs. They’re readily available at almost all major supermarkets and are affordable. To make a gluten-free version, you’ll need to buy or make gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
- Plain Flour – instead of trying to use an egg replacement, we use a thick mixture of plain flour and water in order to get the panko breadcrumbs to stick to the sweet potato and aubergine slices. It works really well. That means there’s no need for faffing around with aquafaba or ground flaxseed in this recipe, which aside from not being the best method (there are flaws in using these in a katsu, we’ve tried it), is more complicated than it needs to be. In addition, you can use gluten-free plain flour to make a gluten-free version.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
These steps are an overview to go with the photos of each stage. Head to the recipe card below for full ingredient measurements, instructions and recipe notes to make the crispiest and most delicious aubergine and sweet potato katsu curry.
1. In a wok, pour a splash of oil, and then add in the chopped onion and fry over medium-high heat until soft.
2. Next, add in the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for one minute on medium-high heat.
3. Pop in spices, and mix well to ensure all of the onion, garlic and ginger is well coated.
4. Sprinkle in the flour and again, stir well.
5. Little by little, start adding in the stock, like making a roux, until all of the stock has been poured in and there are no lumps. Stirring all the time.
6. Pour in all of the coconut milk. Bring up to a simmer, add in the sugar and soy sauce (or tamari). Simmer for 5 minutes, until it has thickened up. Take the sauce off the heat and then set aside.
7. Slice the aubergine and sweet potato into ~1cm thick oval strips. In a separate bowl, mix the plain flour with the water until smooth. It should create a thick and gloopy mixture with a smooth consistency. Place the panko breadcrumbs into a separate bowl. And then, get a plate ready to place the vegetables on once they have been dunked.
8. Dredge each piece of aubergine and sweet potato into the flour mix, then into the panko breadcrumbs. Set aside onto the plate. Work fast so the mix doesn’t fall off the vegetables. As the flour mix is quite thick, it shouldn’t fall off the vegetables but it’s still worth trying to go quick if you can.
9. Heat up a frying pan with a 0.5cm layer of oil in the bottom (we found this should be around 250ml). Use a single piece of panko to check if the oil is hot enough, once it is bubbling away in the pan, the oil is hot enough. Alternatively, you can also use a wooden spoon to check this instead.
10. Fry each piece of sweet potato and aubergine on each side for around 1-2 minutes, until golden. As each piece of vegetable is done, place onto a plate that has been lined with kitchen paper, so the excess oil drips off.
11. Make sure the katsu curry sauce is warm, sieve it to make the sauce smooth and then serve with short-grain white rice, pink pickled onions and shredded cabbage (optionally).
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Sieve the sauce – to create the silkiest sauce for this sweet potato and aubergine katsu curry, the sauce must be sieved. This does create some waste, that’s because the onion, garlic and ginger that has been used in the sauce will not be served. It’s up to you whether to follow this step. We have eaten the sauce without sieving it, and it is still delicious, just not as authentic or true to the Wagamama version.
- Flour and water paste – this is part of the dredging and coating method of getting the panko to stick to the sweet potato and aubergine. There’s no need for ground flaxseed or aquafaba to replace the egg that would traditionally be used. In our experience, using these ingredients doesn’t work with the panko breadcrumbs anyway. The flour and water mixture is way more effective!
- Dab excess oil – there’s going to be excess oil anytime shallow frying is used as a cooking method. The best thing to do to remove as much of the excess oil as possible, is line a plate with kitchen paper and place the shallow fried veggies on it, until they’re all cooked.
- Can you freeze katsu curry sauce? Yes, katsu curry sauce can be frozen, but we don’t recommend freezing the fried sweet potato and aubergine. There’s more information on this in the recipe card below.
- Storage – both the sauce and the vegetable pieces can be made ahead. Cover both the sauce and the fried vegetable discs and leave on the counter. Reheat the sweet potato and aubergine in a tray in the oven for 15 minutes. We have tested this and the vegetables crisp back up really well. Reheat the sauce gently on the stove top.
- Gluten-free – it’s easy to make a gluten-free sweet potato and aubergine katsu curry! Switch the panko breadcrumbs and plain flour for gluten-free versions, and use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Variations – there are many variations of vegan katsu curry! You could use just sweet potato or aubergine depending on your preference, or switch some (or all) of them out for tofu, try it without coconut milk by subbing unsweetened oat milk or just use more vegetable stock. You could also substitute sweet potato for pumpkin or butternut squash. In addition, you could even use seitan in place of the vegetables and this would replicate a Wagamama vegatsu, which is a breaded seitan cutlet, served with katsu sauce.
‘Katsu’ means a breaded cutlet of pork, and the curry sauce is served alongside it in a separate pot. In addition, it’s also known as ‘Katsu-karē’ or Japanese curry and rice. Fun fact, Wikipedia says: “Japanese curry and curry sauce are sometimes referred to inaccurately as katsu curry in the UK, even in cases where the katsu (cutlet) itself is not included” So even though many places in the UK may have misinterpreted this dish, we’re setting the record straight. It can’t be a katsu curry without a panko coated and fried cutlet! And we think that a ‘cutlet’ can easily be replaced with vegetables to make a vegan alternative.
Katsu curry isn’t too spicy. It’s medium. This vegan aubergine and sweet potato katsu curry is medium spicy, and can be made spicier by using a hot curry powder.
As explained above, katsu refers to a breaded and fried pork cutlet, and the ‘curry’ part refers to the Japanese curry sauce that is served with it. As the cutlet is usually made with meat, it is not usually a vegan meal, but the Japanese curry sauce doesn’t tend to include meat or dairy products. However, it is simple to make a vegan katsu curry, such as our recipe!
No, generally, Katsu curry isn’t gluten-free but it can be made gluten-free by making a few easy swaps. Choose gluten-free plain flour, gluten-free panko breadcrumbs as well as switching soy sauce for tamari.
No, it’s made with coconut milk, not dairy. As we’ve made a vegan version, this katsu curry is dairy-free and meat-free.
No, peanuts are not usually included in katsu curry recipes.
🍛 What to serve with it
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Aubergine & Sweet Potato Katsu Curry
For the curry sauce:
- 1 onion - roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger - peeled and chopped
- 4 tbsp curry powder
- 2.5 tsp soy sauce – or tamari
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 500 ml vegetable stock
For the katsu:
- 350 g sweet potato – peeled and cut into ~1 cm slices
- 500 g aubergine – cut into ~1 cm slices
- 150 g panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup plain flour
- 300 ml water
- 250 ml oil
- In a wok, pour a splash of oil, and then add in the chopped onion and fry over medium-high heat until soft.1 onion
- Next, add in the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for one minute on medium-high heat.2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp ginger
- Pop in spices, and mix well to ensure all of the onion, garlic and ginger is well coated.1 tsp turmeric powder, 4 tbsp curry powder
- Sprinkle in the flour and again, stir well.2 tbsp plain flour
- Little by little, start adding in the stock, like making a roux, until all of the stock has been poured in and there are no lumps.500 ml vegetable stock
- Pour in all of the coconut milk. Bring up to a simmer, add in the sugar and soy sauce (or tamari). Simmer for 5 minutes, until it has thickened up. Take the sauce off the heat and then set aside.2.5 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp brown sugar, 200 ml coconut milk
- In a separate bowl, mix the plain flour with the water until smooth. It should create a thick and gloopy mixture that has a smooth consistency. Place the panko breadcrumbs into a separate bowl. And then get a plate ready to place the vegetables on once they have been dunked.1 cup plain flour, 300 ml water
- Dredge each piece of aubergine and sweet potato into the flour mix, then into the panko breadcrumbs. Set aside onto the plate. Work fast so the mix doesn’t fall off the vegetables. As the flour mix is quite thick, it shouldn’t fall off the vegetables but it’s still worth trying to go quick if you can.350 g sweet potato, 150 g panko breadcrumbs, 500 g aubergine
- Heat up a frying pan with a 0.5cm layer of oil in the bottom (around 250ml). Use a single piece of panko to check if the oil is hot enough, once it is bubbling away in the pan, the oil is hot enough.250 ml oil
- Fry each piece of sweet potato and aubergine on each side for around 1-2 minutes, until golden. As each piece of vegetable is done, place onto a plate that has been lined with kitchen paper, so the excess oil drips off.
- Make sure the sauce is hot, it may need reheating on the stove top for a few minutes. Then sieve it to remove the garlic, ginger and onion (optionally) and serve with short grain white rice, salad, pink pickled onions and cabbage.
- To create the silkiest sauce, it’s best to sieve out the onions, garlic and ginger. Even though this is how Wagamama make their katsu curry, it does create waste. The flavour is also more subtle when the sauce is sieved. It’s up to you whether you sieve it or serve as it is. Alternatively, if you have a blender, it can be blended to create a smoother sauce, but again, this is preference and not necessary.
- For a gluten-free version, switch the panko breadcrumbs and plain flour for gluten-free versions, and use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Variations – try using firm tofu in place of some or all of the sweet potato and aubergine, or try subbing pumpkin or butternut squash.
- Both the sauce and the vegetable pieces can be made a few hours ahead. Cover both the katsu sauce and the fried vegetable discs and leave them on the counter. Re-heat the sweet potato and aubergine on a tray in the oven for 15 minutes on gas mark 4 (177°C). We have tested this and the vegetables crisp back up really well in the oven.
- The katsu sauce can be frozen, just make sure to defrost and then reheat until piping hot on the stove. We don’t recommend freezing the shallow fried sweet potatoes and aubergine slices.
- It's hard to work out exact calories when shallow frying. When cooking, it looked like half of the oil was leftover in the pan when we were finished. So therefore, I've worked out the calories for this dish using half the amount of frying oil listed.