11 delicious vegan curry recipes to cook during lockdown

Posted by for Food

To celebrate National Curry Week we’re sharing our favourite vegan curry recipes – they don’t have a complex ingredients lists, but do have plenty of flavour. 

Whether it’s tucking into a takeaway in front of the telly, or preparing a homecooked meal to eat with the family, Britain is a bona fide nation of curry lovers (there’s a reason Britain’s then-foreign secretary Robin Cook declared chicken tikka masala a “true British national dish” in 2001). Our appetite for masala and biryani, korma and madras knows no bounds – so much so that curry has more than once outstripped traditional fare like roast dinners and fish and chips for the title of Britain’s favourite dish.

As any true fan will tell you, curry lends itself beautifully to experimentation, which in turn makes it a brilliant option for those following a plant-based diet. So irresistible is the combination of warm spices, fresh vegetables and creamy sauce, that it’s the perfect dish for those looking to reduce their meat consumption, as well as one to satisfy vegetarians and vegans in search of heartwarming comfort food.

In the age of lockdown, however, vegan curries are really coming into their own. Not only are they a great shout for people looking for healthy dinner ideas, but they can easily be adapted to whatever you have (and don’t have!) in your store cupboard – finally a way to incorporate all those random tins of grains and beans that have been lurking for too long at the back. 

From creamy chickpea and chard korma and spicy chana masala to warm garden biryani and beloved ‘chip shop’ vegetable curry, you’ll find 11 of our favourite meat-free curry recipes to cook at home below. 

And if you’re looking for more vegan inspiration, check out our favourite vegan tacos, vegan kebabs and vegan BBQ recipes – just right for the warm weather ahead. 

  • Curry house jalfrezi recipe

    CURRY HOUSE JALFREZI

    Henry Firth and Ian Theasby say: “The spicy and flavourful jalfrezi has now overtaken tikka masala as Britain’s favourite curry. This stock can be prepared in advance and frozen or kept in the fridge in an airtight container, so make a double batch to save time. Be sure to taste the curry as you go to get the perfect balance, as spices can vary in strength.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 large aubergine
    • 4 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
    • 1 onion
    • 1 red pepper
    • a small bunch of fresh coriander
    • 5 green bird’s-eye chillies
    • 12 cherry tomatoes
    • 3 tbsp curry powder
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • ¼–2 tsp hot chilli powder
    • 8 tbsp tomato purée
    • 500g cooked basmati rice, or use
    • 2 x 250g bags microwavable basmati rice, to serve
    • salt

    For the stock

    • 1 onion
    • 5cm piece fresh ginger
    • 5 garlic cloves
    • 500ml + 1 tbsp water
    • ½ fresh red chilli
    • 3 cherry tomatoes
    • 1 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
    • ¼ tsp ground coriander
    • ¼ tsp ground cumin
    • ¼ tsp ground fenugreek
    • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
    • ¼ tsp paprika

    Method

    You will need to preheat grill to 200°C and get a baking tray, a fine grater or microplane, a medium saucepan and a liquidiser.

    First, cook the aubergine: trim the aubergine and cut it into 2cm chunks, spread over the baking tray, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons oil and a good pinch of salt, toss to coat. Grill for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove when golden brown all over but not burnt.

    Meanwhile, make the stock: peel and finely chop the onion, peel the ginger by scraping off the skin with a spoon and grate, peel and grate the garlic. Put the ginger and garlic into a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon water to make a paste.

    Finely chop the red chilli and tomatoes. Place the saucepan on a medium heat and pour in the oil, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of the ginger and garlic paste. Add all the remaining spices and half the water and stir.

    Simmer for 10 minutes, until browned and reduced completely. Pour in the rest of the water, stir and transfer to the liquidiser. Blend to a smooth liquid and clean out the pan.

    Back to the curry: peel and thinly slice the onion. Cut the pepper in half and cut out the stem and seeds, then thinly slice. Pick the leaves from the coriander, finely chop the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Trim and thinly slice two of the chillies. Quarter the tomatoes.

    Pour the remaining oil into the clean saucepan and place over a high heat. Add the onion, pepper and sliced chillies and fry for 3 minutes, stirring regularly.

    Stir in the chopped coriander stems and remaining ginger and garlic paste (from making the stock). Add the curry powder, garam masala, ¼ teaspoon hot chilli powder, tomato purée, grilled aubergines and stock.

    Taste and add more salt, garam masala and chilli powder if needed. Stir in the tomatoes. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened.

    Heat the rice or cook it following the instructions on the packet.

    Transfer to a serving dish. Cut the remaining chillies in half lengthways and use them to garnish the curry along with the chopped coriander leaves. Serve with the rice.

    From BISH BASH BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby (£20, HarperCollins), out now

  • Chickpea and chard korma recipe

    Katy Beskow says: “This creamy, comforting korma is perfect served with clouds of basmati rice, or with warmed naan bread. Swiss chard offers a slight bitterness to the sweet and rich coconut milk base.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 4 large leaves of Swiss chard, stalks removed and roughly chopped
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • 1 tbsp korma paste (ensure dairy free)
    • 400ml (14fl oz) can full-fat coconut milk
    • 400g (14oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • Small handful of fresh coriander, roughly torn

    Method

    Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and soften over a medium–high heat for 2–3 minutes.

    Add the garlic and Swiss chard, and sauté for a further minute.

    Stir through the cumin and turmeric, then add the korma paste, coating the onion and Swiss chard.

    Pour in the coconut milk and chickpeas, then allow to bubble for 10 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and scatter with the coriander.

    From 15 Minute Vegan: Comfort Food by Katy Beskow (£15, Quadrille), out now

  • Garden biryani recipe

    Katy Beskow says: “Traditionally, biryani is slow-cooked, however, this version lends itself well to fast cooking due to the variety of rice used and the quick-cook vegetables. Adapt the vegetables to what you have available seasonally for an ever-changing dish.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • ½ small cauliflower, broken into florets
    • 12 green beans, ends trimmed
    • 1 yellow (bell) pepper, finely sliced
    • 2 tbsp medium curry paste
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
    • 400g (14oz/21/4 cups) basmati rice
    • 1 litre (1¾ pints/4½ cups) hot vegetable stock
    • 2 tbsp frozen peas
    • 2 tbsp roasted cashew nuts
    • juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
    • generous handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly torn
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
    • generous pinch of sea salt

    Method

    Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a medium–high heat and cook the onion for 1 minute until it begins to soften.

    Add the cauliflower, green beans and yellow pepper, and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Spoon in the curry paste, turmeric, cumin and chilli flakes, and stir to coat the vegetables.

    Pour in the basmati rice and vegetable stock, then simmer over a medium heat for 9 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Stir through the peas and cashew nuts, and cook for a further minute.

    Remove from the heat and squeeze over the lemon juice. Scatter with the coriander, red chilli and sea salt just before serving.

    From 15 Minute Vegan: Comfort Food by Katy Beskow (£15, Quadrille), out now

  • Chana masala with yellow cauliflower rice recipe

    Ylva Bergqvist says: “Chana means ‘chickpeas’ and masala means ‘spices’, and that is exactly what this is: spicy chickpeas in a tomato sauce. Serve alongside yellow cauliflower rice and poppadoms, which are easy to make in the microwave.”

    Ingredients

    For the curry

    • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • rapeseed (canola) oil, for frying
    • 50g (2 oz) ginger, peeled and finely grated
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 2 teaspoons garam masala
    • 1 tablespoon tomato purée (paste)
    • 400g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
    • 400g (14 oz) tin chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
    • 300ml (10 fl oz/1¼ cups) water
    • 1 tablespoon agave syrup salt
    • 4 poppadoms, to serve
    • chopped coriander leaves and
    • mango chutney, to serve

    For the rice

    • 600g (1lb 5oz) cauliflower
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric
    • rapeseed (canola) oil, for frying

    Method

    Fry the onion and garlic in oil over a medium-low heat in a frying pan (skillet) for approximately 5 minutes until soft. Squeeze the juice from the ginger and discard the remains.

    Add the spices and tomato purée, raise the heat and fry for another 2 minutes while stirring.

    Add the ginger juice, tinned tomatoes, drained chickpeas and water, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. In the meantime, make the cauliflower rice.

    Remove the green outer leaves from the cauliflower, but save them. Chop the cauliflower into rough pieces or make a fine rice using a food processor.

    Put the rice on a tea towel and squeeze to remove any moisture.

    Fry with the turmeric in a frying pan with a little oil for around 7 minutes. Stir occasionally.

    Mix the cauliflower leaves into the tomato sauce and boil for a further 5 minutes. Season with agave syrup and salt to taste.

    Put poppadoms into the microwave one at a time and cook on full power. Do this in 15-second bursts, as they burn easily. Alternatively, you can fry them in hot oil for a few seconds.

    Sprinkle the coriander leaves over the dish and serve with cauliflower rice, poppadoms and mango chutney.

    From 30 Minute Vegetarian by Ylva Bergqvist (£16.99, Hardie Grant), out now

  • Red lentil curry with rice paper crisps recipe

    Ylva Bergqvist says: “Paper crisps may sound rather dry, but it truly is an exciting event in the kitchen when the rice paper puffs up in the hot oil. If you aren’t comfortable deep-frying or think it’s unhealthy, just skip for a less eventful evening. The curry paste varies in strength, so start with a tablespoon, taste it, and add more if you want a hotter dish.”

    Ingredients

    • 300g (10½ oz/1 cups) jasmine rice
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 700ml (23 fl oz/2¾ cups)
    • rapeseed (canola) oil, for frying and deep-frying
    • 1–2 tablespoons red curry paste
    • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) dried red lentils
    • 600ml (20 fl oz/2½ cups) water
    • 400g (14 oz) tin coconut cream
    • 4 large sheets of rice paper
    • zest and juice of 1 lime
    • 80g (3 oz) baby spinach
    • salt
    • coriander leaves, to garnish

    Method

    Cook the rice following the instructions on the pack.

    Fry the garlic in oil in a saucepan for around 2 minutes over a medium heat until soft. Add the curry paste, raise the heat and fry for another 1 minute while stirring. Add the lentils and water.

    Whisk the coconut cream so that it is mixed, then pour three-quarters into the saucepan. Simmer over a medium heat for around 15 minutes until the lentils are soft.

    Deep-fry one rice paper sheet at a time in hot oil in a large saucepan for around 1 minute. Place them on kitchen paper when they are done.

    Mix the spinach into the lentil curry and ensure it warms through. Season with salt and approximately 1 tablespoon lime juice. If you have time, you can whisk the lime zest into the coconut cream you saved, using an electric whisk. Otherwise, you can simply mix them together.

    Top the curry with the lime-coconut cream and coriander leaves. Serve with the paper crisps and rice.

    From 30 Minute Vegetarian by Ylva Bergqvist (£16.99, Hardie Grant), out now

  • ’Chip shop’ vegetable curry recipe

    Áine Carlin says: “If you grew up in the UK or Ireland, you’ll no doubt be familiar with that late-night takeaway special, the incomparable ‘half and half’. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a terribly inauthentic curry served with ‘half chips, half rice’. Sounds vile, but after a heavy night on the tiles it’s almost akin to salvation. You could say then that this is my homage to not only the curry that saved me from many a chronic hangover but also to those heady days that were wonderful at the time but which I have absolutely no desire to revisit.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 1 onion, roughly chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and minced
    • 1 green chilli, minced
    • 200g mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
    • ½ head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
    • 1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
    • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • ½ tablespoon palm or brown sugar
    • 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
    • 500ml water
    • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves
    • 200ml canned coconut milk
    • 75g frozen peas
    • 100g spinach, blanched and chopped
    • sea salt flakes and black pepper

    Method

    Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

    Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and sweat for 3–4 minutes, until translucent.

    Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and sauté for 2–3 minutes, or until aromatic.

    Add the mushrooms to the pan, season generously and cook over a medium–high heat for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to colour, release their juices and shrink.

    Add the cauliflower florets to the pan together with the spices, sugar and a splash of water.

    Cook for 1–2 minutes before sprinkling over the cornflour and stirring to coat evenly. Pour over the measured water and stir continuously until the sauce thickens, then add the tomato purée and lime leaves.

    Bring to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk, peas and spinach.

    Season generously and simmer for a further 10–15 minutes, uncovered, until thickened and reduced. Season to taste and serve.

    From Cook Share Eat Vegan by Áine Carlin (£14.99, Mitchell Beazley), out now

  • Beetroot and coconut curry recipe

    Rebecca Seal and John Vincent say: “A great alternative to a traditional curry, this beetroot dish is perfect both as a starter or a main. Earthy beetroot makes this curry almost sweet, but it is bolstered by chilli heat, sour lime and the coconut crunch of the topping. This recipe serves two.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
    • ½ teaspoon mustards seeds
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • a pinch of fenugreek seeds
    • ½ onion, finely sliced
    • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 1 medium green chilli, finely chopped
    • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
    • 400g beetroot, peeled, quartered and sliced into ½cm pieces
    • 100ml water
    • 250ml full-fat coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh
    • coriander
    • zest of ½ a lime
    • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid, set over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and, when they start to pop, add the cumin and fenugreek seeds and cook for 1 minute.

    Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic and green chilli and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes.

    Add the ground coriander and cook for a further 1 minute.

    Add the beetroot, water and 200ml of the coconut milk and bring up to a simmer. Partially cover with the lid, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the beetroot is just tender.

    Meanwhile, make the topping. Set a small dry pan over a medium heat and add the desiccated coconut. Cook for 1–2 minutes, moving it around the pan just until it begins to brown, then immediately transfer it to a small bowl.

    Add the chopped chilli, coriander and lime zest, along with a pinch of salt and mix well.

    When the beetroot is tender, add the remaining 50ml of coconut milk to the curry and just warm through a little. Remove from the heat and season to taste with lime juice and plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Serve each bowlful topped with a sprinkling of the toasted coconut mixture.

    To make this more filling, add cooked chickpeas or cooked lentils when adding the beetroot. If you have any Sri Lankan roasted curry powder, a pinch on top of the finished curry works wonders.

    From Leon: Happy Curries by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent (£16.99, Conran), out now

  • Lemongrass, coconut and aubergine curry recipe

    Rebecca Seal and John Vincent say: “If you like aubergines, you will love this curry. Heart-warming and full of flavours, it’s a great dish for a cosy night in or for an autumnal dinner party. This simple curry packs way more punch than its quick-and-easy prep. This recipe serves four.”

    Ingredients

    • 4 medium aubergines, stem ends trimmed, halved crossways, then cut into 2cm wedges
    • 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
    • 600ml full-fat coconut milk
    • 2 sticks of lemongrass, bashed with a
    • rolling pin until almost flat
    • 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 8 lime leaves, roughly torn
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • a generous pinch of dried red chilli flakes (optional)
    • 50g roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
    • finely grated zest of ½ lime (unwaxed)
    • salt

    Method

    Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

    Put the wedges of aubergine and the oil into a roasting pan and use your hands to toss it all together, making sure each piece is lightly coated in the oil. Roast for 20 minutes, turning the wedges halfway through.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the coconut milk, smashed lemongrass, spring onions, garlic, lime leaves, turmeric, cumin, chilli flakes, if using, and a good pinch of salt. Mix well.

    Remove the aubergine pan from the oven and pour the coconut mixture over the aubergine wedges, turning each one to ensure they are all coated in the coconut curry. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

    Tip the peanuts onto a baking tray, and pop them in the oven for the last 7 minutes of the curry’s cooking time.

    Remove both pan and tray from the oven and set the aubergine curry aside, while you tip the nuts into a pestle and mortar and lightly pummel. Add the lime zest and a small pinch of salt.

    Remove and discard the lime leaves and lemongrass from the aubergine curry, then serve the aubergine curry sprinkled with the peanut and lime zest topping.

    From Leon: Happy Curries by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent (£16.99, Conran), out now

  • Chickpea and butternut squash curry recipe

    Lucy Watson says: “Chickpea and butternut squash are classic ingredients when it comes to an easy curry you can make at home.”

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 6 cardamom pods, split
    • 8 curry leaves
    • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
    • 500ml vegetable stock
    • 400g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
    • 250ml coconut cream
    • 400g can of chickpeas, drained and washed
    • 2 handfuls baby spinach
    • Pappadums and brown rice (to serve)

    Method

    Heat the oil in a medium sautépan on a high heat. Add the cardamom, curry leaves and mustard seeds, stir and let cook for 30 seconds.

    Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes.

    Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and salt, cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and bring up to the simmer.

    Add the butternut squash and cook for 10 minutes.

    Add the coconut cream and chickpeas, cook for 10 minutes or until the curry thickens slightly.

    Remove from the heat and stir through the spinach.

    Spoon the curry into bowls and serve with steaming hot brown rice and pappadums.

    From Feed Me Vegan by Lucy Watson (£18.99, Sphere), out now

  • Sweet potato and kale curry recipe

    Lucy Watson says: “Sweet potatoes and kale work incredibly well in a curry. This dish is creamy and delicious.”

    Ingredients

    • curry powder – scant measures
    • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds
    • 1 teaspoons fennel
    • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
    • small handful dried curry leaves
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 medium onion, finely diced
    • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
    • 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
    • 400ml vegetable stock
    • 400ml coconut milk
    • 80g red lentils
    • 150ml coconut cream
    • 3 big handfuls kale, cut into bite size pieces
    • 100g roasted cashews
    • saffron basmati rice (to serve)

    Method

    When measuring the spices for the curry powder, make sure they are scant.

    Place all the ingredients for the curry powder into a small frying pan and onto a gently heat. Toast the spices gently for 5 minutes or until they become fragrant. Don’t over toast them or let them brown too much or the curry powder will be overly strong and bitter.

    Remove from heat and leave to cool. Grind in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar until finely ground. Set aside.

    Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and cook the onions until they begin to brown.

    Add the ginger and garlic, cook for 2 minutes.

    Add the cardamom pods, turmeric, curry powder and salt. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the sweet potatoes, stock, coconut milk and lentils.

    Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on.

    Remove the lid, stir well and add the coconut cream and kale.

    Cook for 5 minutes and stir through half the cashews.

    Spoon the curry into bowls along with some saffron rice.

    Sprinkle with the remaining cashews to serve.

    From Feed Me Vegan by Lucy Watson (£18.99, Sphere), out now

  • Sweet potato, aubergine and tenderstem broccoli curry

    Lele’s say: “A dish loaded with veggies, spices and incredible flavours, this curry will satisfy anybody’s stomach.”

    Ingredients

    For curry paste

    • half white onion
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • about 4cm piece of ginger
    • 1 stalk of lemongrass, soft inner part chopped roughly
    • 2 green Thai chillies (deseeded for less heat)
    • 2 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • half tsp ground white pepper – black pepper will do too
    • fresh chopped coriander
    • 2 tsp salt – add more if needed

    For the curry sauce

    • 60ml sunflower oil
    • 400ml full fat coconut milk
    • 5 fresh lime leaves
    • about 450ml of veggie stock (water will do too). It’s up to you to decide what consistency you are going for, add more water/stock for a more liquid result
    • 2 tbsp tamari
    • juice of 1 lime, plus its zest
    • 1 tsp sugar, adjust to taste
    • 1 sweet potato, chopped
    • 1 large aubergine, cubed
    • 1 handful of sugar snap peas
    • 100g tenderstem broccoli
    • 1 handful of cashew nuts to add on top

    Method

    In a food processor, combine all the paste ingredients until finely chopped.

    Heat up oil in a pan on a low heat. Add curry paste to the hot oil and fry it off, don’t rush but stir it for about 5 minutes.

    Pour in coconut milk (from a tin), then add the lime leaves and stock (or water).

    Add veggies – if you like yours a bit crunchy, add the sweet potato and aubergine first and cook it for about 20 minutes, then add the rest and cook it for another 10 minutes or less.

    Season with lime juice and tamari sauce. Decorate with fresh coriander and cashew nuts.

    On the menu at Lele’s London

Words: Alessia Armenise; Christobel Hastings

Photography: Lizzie Mayson; Dan Jones; Lennart Weibull; Danielle Wood; Steven Joyce; Mike English 

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