One of the very first dishes that I tried to make when I moved out of home was chicken curry. I’m an a BIG chicken curry FAN. Mmmmmm….the smell when it is cooking, the flavours, the gravy, ah, no words can describe or do it justice.
You can imagine, then, how I missed having chicken curry when we became vegan. It was one of the few things I missed. It’s not really the chicken that I missed, but the flavour and texture it lent to the curry itself.
I tried so many different recipes from the internet. First, I tried to make it with soya chunks using recipes that looked ‘authentic’ from old Indian ladies. That was a complete and utter failure. I don’t know what exactly I did wrong but the soya chunks were all soft and squished on the outside but still hard and uncooked inside. It also had the terrible, strong, smell that soya chunks have (or maybe that’s just me being picky?).
Then, I discovered that there was a buzz about Gardien Chick’n Scallopini and apparently it had the texture of chicken and lent itself well to curries. I stalked the only online store that I found that sold this product in Victoria, Australia. They were out of stock for many weeks (months?). I was ecstatic when, one day, I logged on to see they were in stock! I ordered 2 packs straight away. One is still sitting in my freezer (from before Christmas). I guess that tells you something already. Yeah, it didn’t go so well. The ‘chicken’ was so soft and yet not really. It tasted like nothing. Well, no that’s not true, it tasted like processed food. Not great. This time, I also tried a Fijian Indian recipe from the internet (since the ones from the old Indian ladies hadn’t worked out so well last time). Again, a fail. It was way too spicy (and trust me, I love spicy and add cayenne pepper to all my food!). The masala didn’t come together like it should – I could feel the grainy texture still.
Then, I gave up.
I decided to just cook a curry my way, just like I used to cook real chicken curry, but just substitute the chicken for soya chunks. I decided to give the soya chunks another chance. Mostly because Max really loves them and a few days before I had used them in a tomato based sauce that actually turned out quite good.
So anyway, I made the curry as normal and then put the soya chunks in. I didn’t want the soya chunks to be uncooked again so I boiled it for about 5 minutes in water until it doubled in size then ran it under cold water for a few minutes, then squeezed the water out before putting it in the curry to cook (I got this from this blog post). The exact instructions for the curry are below.
I hope you love it as much as I did. In fact, my whole family (and non-vegan relatives) loved it and wanted to take home leftovers!
PS, I’ve made this dish a few times now with great success, so it’s been tried and tested 🙂
So, without further a-do, here is my Delicious Vegan ‘Chicken’ Curry:
- 1 cup soya chunks
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 6 – 8 cloves of garlic and 1 inch of ginger, crushed together
- fresh chillies (optional, and to taste)
- 4 small (or 2 medium) potatoes, roughly cut into chunks
- 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
- Oil – about 4 – 6 Tbsp (I used canola oil)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp chicken masala (you can find this in most Indian grocers or just use garam masala instead if you don’t have, or can’t find, chicken masala)
- 1 and 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeks (if you double the recipe, don’t double this part as too much fenugreek makes the curry bitter)
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 stick cinnamon, broken into large pieces
- 2 cloves (when doubling, I put 3 cloves instead of 4 because I don’t really like the taste of cloves)
- 1 – 2 sprigs of curry leaves
- coriander, for garnish
- Salt and chilli powder to taste
- When I doubled this recipe, I also added 1 star anise
- Put the soya chunks into a pot with boiling water (just enough water to cover the soya chunks). Boil it until the soya chunks double in size – about 5 minutes.
- Drain the water and run the drained soya chunks under cold water for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Press the soya chunks with your hands to squeeze the water out. I do this by holding 1 or 2 in my fist and squeezing it (but not too hard). If there are any particularly large soya chunks, you can cut it into smaller pieces. I once had a really giant sized one that I made into 3 smaller ones.
- Heat the oil in a pot medium pot.
- Add the mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, and cloves (and star anise, if using).
- Once the spices start sputtering, add the onions and cook until the onions are soft and starting to crisp at the edges.
- Add the garlic and ginger paste and the curry leaves. Cook it just for a few seconds, careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Add the chicken masala, garam masala, and turmeric. Cook the masalas for a few seconds. It’s necessary to cook it like this so that the curry is not grainy at the end. Again, be careful not to burn the masalas. You’ll know its burnt if it starts smelling burnt!
- Add the potatoes and soya chunks. Add salt (I sued around 1 and 1/2 tsp salt). Mix well.
- Now, we want to fry this for a bit before we add water and cover it. So, cook it uncovered until you see some oil separating (or just until you think it’s sufficiently fried and come together a bit). Leave it uncovered when you do this because we don’t want it accumulating water (which food tends to do if its covered). I had to stir mine quite frequently because my pot was not non-stick and tended to stick at the bottom if left unattended for a while.
- Add about 1 cup of water, cover, and cook (stirring frequently) until the potatoes are half way done.
- Add tomatoes, stir well, cover, and cook again until the potatoes are cooked to your liking (I like it when some of the potatoes are melted into the curry to make it thicker). If you find that there is not enough ‘gravy’ then feel free to add more water. I added 1 more cup.
- Taste and adjust salt and chilli if needed. Finally, add the coriander and take it off the heat.
Enjoy it with rice or roti 🙂