This recipe for vegan British chicken style curry is packed with delicious old-school flavours and is perfect for quick and easy wholesome family meals.
Serve with rice, naan breads, fresh coriander/cilantro and toasted cashew nuts for a tasty fake-away at home that everyone will devour.
Vegan chicken pieces are used for this recipe but these can be easily replaced with thick slices of mushrooms which are absolutely ideal for old-school curry.
Origins of Old-School Chicken Curry
Old-school British chicken curry has been popular since at least the 70s and 80s and is rather like a mix between an Indian and Chinese curry, with British influences thrown in.
Curry powder, a mixture of spices, was introduced to Britain during the late 1700s although the term curry is a British invention as traditional Indian dishes do not actually use curry powder or use the word curry.
There is an Indian Tamil word kari which translates to spiced sauce and some believe this is where the word curry stems from.
Traditional Indian curries tend to use individual spices rather than a mix. The purpose of curry powder was to appeal to the British taste and to manufacture it to the British public.
Curry was first served in British coffee houses during the early 1800s. Coffee houses were originally only for men to frequent for the purpose of socialising, work meetings and of course drinking coffee.
Although there are recipes especially meat that was described as being 'cooked in the Indian way' using Indian spices that are dated to the mid 1600s Britain. So it is likely that spicy curry-like meals were enjoyed long before the introduction of curry powder.
Nowadays curry sauce is a popular side-order in British fish and chip shops, as well as Chinese and Indian restaurants and take-aways.
Although, curries have become part of classic British cuisine as they are common-place favourites and considered everyday food for many people's lifestyles, it is still good practice to appreciate its origins and to acknowledge that many of the curries popular in Britain today have been adapted and changed throughout the years.
Vegan Chicken Curry
This vegan curry recipe is adapted from the old-school British chicken curry.
It is incredibly creamy, velvety, rich, savoury, sweet, and with just the right amount of spice.
Creamed coconut is used for creaminess but also because it happens to be less expensive compared to a can of coconut milk. Although canned coconut can be subbed if it is difficult to source creamed coconut.
This is an easy curry as the only spices required are curry powder and garam masala powder. Both of these spice mixes work together to provide a big flavour punch without the need to toast individual spices.
As this is an old-school curry, raisins or sultanas can be included which I would have loved but my kids object to the dried fruit so I have left this ingredient as an optional extra. But I do recommend adding the dried fruit!
For the vegan chicken pieces I went with the Co-op supermarket GRO meat free chick'n pieces as I found a few packets reduced at my local supermarket. However, any vegan chicken pieces can be used either frozen or fresh.
Although you may prefer to simply use a can or two of beans, some sliced thick mushrooms or small whole mushrooms, or extra veggies.
For the vegan chicken stock I went with the meat-free OXO chicken stock cubes that are available at ASDA, UK supermarkets.
But any vegan chicken stock will do or if preferred use vegetable stock. Although the vegan chicken stock does add chicken style flavours that are reminiscent of old-school chicken curry.
This is an incredibly versatile recipe so do switch out the veggies listed in the recipe for whatever veggies you happen to have and need to use up.
Do let us know if you prepare this vegan chicken curry recipe and how you got on. We love reading your comments.
Thanks so much.
How To Prepare Vegan Old-School 'Chicken' Curry
Curry is always amazingly tasty the day after cooking as all the flavours continue to develop so leftovers are always a bonus.
Store leftover curry within a covered container and pop into the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freeze within a food and freezer safe container or bag for up to 3-4 months.
Defrost completely before reheating.
The vegan curry will likely become very thick as it is stored so if preferred pour in a little water, stock or plant milk to loosen the sauce up a little.
Add the curry to a saucepan and gently reheat until piping hot.
Or pop the curry into a microwave for a few minutes to reheat until piping hot.
Our family love toasted curry sandwiches.
Simply add a couple of scoops of leftover curry [the curry will likely be very thick after storing in the refrigerator] to a slice of you chosen bread, cover with shredded vegan cheese and pop another slice of bread over.
Toast each side using a non-stick skillet, dry fry pan, panini machine or a special toastie maker.
Or use a tortilla wrap to create quick curry pasties. Fill the wrap with curry and shredded cheese and wrap up. Toast until golden, melted and piping hot.
Another idea is to use a sheet of vegan puff pastry and create curry pasties/pastries. Follow the instructions on the pasty packet for cooking temperatures and bake until the pastry is puffed up, golden and crispy.
This vegan chicken curry recipe could be prepared solely as a filling.
Once the curry is cooked, cool and store in the refrigerator overnight before using as a filling. This curry recipe could likely fill about 6-8 toasties, pasties or tortilla wraps depending on sizes.
As with any recipe feel free to modify or substitute any of the ingredients. [although perhaps not so much with baking recipes which require more precise sticking to measurements and ingredients!]
A few ideas:
* replace any of the vegetables stated within the recipe with roughly the same amount of your preferred vegetables.
* instead of vegan chicken pieces use thick slices of mushrooms [or whole small mushrooms]
* or replace the meat-free pieces with a can of drained beans such as butterbeans or chickpeas
* peas are a traditional and tasty addition to old-school curries so these could replace the Brussel sprouts
* potatoes can replace the sweet potatoes but these may take longer to cook within the curry so perhaps use leftover cooked potatoes or parboil the potatoes. Canned potatoes are especially nice to use for a curry as they soak up the curry flavours beautifully.
* can't source a block of creamed coconut? this can be replaced with about 200 millilitres of canned coconut milk. Reduce the vegan stock added to the recipe if you do add extra liquid.
* coconut oil can be replaced with your usual cooking oil. Or use about ½-1 cup of veggie stock to cook the veggies. The stock should evaporate whilst cooking so you are not left with lots of liquid before continuing with the recipe.
Chopped cashew nuts are a tasty addition to veggie curry, but even better is toasted cashew nuts.
Cashew nuts are expensive but many wholefood stores or health shops sell broken cashew nuts which is simply a bag of cashew nuts in various sizes and are sold more cheaply. So it is worth a look.
A bag can last a while if kept in the freezer as the cold prevents the nuts going rancid, and only a small handful is needed for each curry to achieve the creamy-hard delicious texture that cashews bring.
It is really easy to toast cashews in a small non-stick pan.
A sprinkle of salt can be added along with the cashews and the pan heated over a medium-high heat.
Shake the cashews around frequently and as soon as they start to colour remove from the heat and continue shaking the cashews until they are tinged with golden toastiness.
Don't leave the cashews unattended as I did once and the cashews became quite burnt!
Below is a mini non-stick fry pan that I purchased for a few pounds from Asda, UK:
A few ideas:
* any variety of rice
* cauliflower/broccoli rice
* courgette noodles
* potato chips/fries [can be prepared in the oven or an air fryer with little or no added oil]
* crispy spring rolls
* samosas, pakoras, onion bhaji
* naan breads, chapatis, roti, easy 3-ingredient flatbreads
* mango chutney
* mint sauce/chutney
* lime pickle
* home-made vegan raita: yogurt mixed with cubed cucumber and a few fresh mint or coriander [cilantro] leaves
* a scoop of Chana Chaat
Creamed coconut which tends to come in a hard block can be used to make an inexpensive coconut milk.
Instructions are generally on the back of the packet and is simply a case of dissolving a piece of the creamed coconut in hot water.
For an even simpler method desiccated coconut can be used. Add around 100 grams [4 oz] of desiccated coconut to a jug or bowl. Pour over 150ml [5 fl oz] of boiling water and leave to soak for a few hours.
Strain the liquid through a sieve and it will be ready to use.
The leftover desiccated coconut can be saved and added to any curry dishes including the current vegan chicken curry recipe.
Freeze any soaked and strained desiccated coconut for future use. It could be frozen packed into ice cube trays then popped out and stored in a freezer bag. This will make it so much easier to pull out just what you need from the freezer.
More Tasty Vegan Curry Recipes
Chana Chaat Chickpeas [with a stuffed acorn/butternut squash option]
Vegan Old-School British Chicken Curry
- non-stick skillet/large saucepan or similar
- Small non-stick pan optional, for toasting cashews
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ½ cup veggie stock
- 250 gram vegan chicken pieces or replace with tofu, tempeh, butterbeans, thick sliced mushrooms, etc
- 2 medium onions thick sliced
- 1 bell pepper thick sliced, or 130 grams/1 cup of mixed bell pepper such as a frozen mix
- 2 ribs celery sliced into batons/thin sticks (can add some of the inner celery leaves also)
- 200 gram brussel sprouts each sprout sliced into 2-3 pieces, or replace with peas, sliced green beans, chopped broccoli florets, etc
- 2 medium sweet potato sliced into bite size pieces
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 4 cloves of fresh, sliced
- 2 tablespoon curry powder regular or Madras
- 1 tablespoon cornflour or corn starch, more if required
- 1 tablespoon dessicated coconut can be replaced with tablepoon of ground almonds, or simply omit
- 60 grams creamed coconut can be replaced with around 200 mililitres of canned coconut milk, adjust the vegan stock by reducing it to compenstate for the extra liquid
- 500 milliltres vegan chicken stock hot, or vegetable stock, use more if required
- 2 tablespoon sultanas or raisens
Add at end of cooking:
- 2 teaspoons garam masala powder a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is also tasty
To serve, optional: fresh corinader/cilantro, toasted cashews, naan bread, rice
- Melt the coconut oil in a non-stick pot or skillet.
- Add the onions and celery. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stir every now and again.Pop a lid over the pan if preferred.
- Chuck in the sweet potato, brussel sprouts and bell pepper.Cook for another 5 minutes, stir frequently.
- Pop in the vegan chicken pieces and the curry powder.Stir well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Next add the cornflour, dessicated coconut, creamed coconut, and pour in the hot vegan chicken stock.[if adding sultanas or raisens pop these in also][the creamed coconut will melt as it cooks but do help it along when stirring the curry by giving it a little bash to break up]
- Simmer for 20-25 minutes with a lid askew on the pan. Remove the lid and continue to cook if the potatoes need longer.Pour in a extra vegan stock if necessary, only if the curry sauce is getting too thick to cook the veggies.
- [Whilst the curry is cooking prepare any sides, if having, such as rice.]
- Remove from the heat and stir through the garam masala. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.[if you added extra stock and the resultant curry is a little thin it can be easily thickened up with the addition of a cornflour [cornstarch] slurry which is just equal quanities of cornflour and water stirred together. See below for method stated within the recipe notes]
- Optional: Serve with naan bread, cooked rice, fresh corinader and a sprinkle of toasted cashews.
Optional: Toasting cashews [can replace with peanuts, flaked almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds]
- Pop a handful of chopped cashew pieces into a small non-stick pan, along with a sprinkle of salt if liked, and over a medium-high heat toast the cashews by shaking the pan often. Once the cashews start to colour remove the pan from the heat and continue to shake or stir the cashews as they will continue to colour within the residual heat.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Store leftover curry for up to 3 days, within a covered container, in the refrigerator.
- Or freeze for 3-4 months.
- Reheat by popping the curry into a non-stick pot or pan and gently reheat until piping hot. If necessary add a little extra stock, water or some plant milk to loosen up the curry sauce if it has become very thick.
- Any veggies can replace the ones stated within the recipe so use what you have to hand, is in season and cheaper, or even what is available in the reduced section of the supermarket.
- Using leftover veggies is also a great idea, especially leftover cooked potato. simply adjust the cooking time as the veggies won't need too much initial cooking or simmering in the curry sauce.
- Creamed coconut block can be replaced with coconut milk. Use around 200 millilitres of coconut milk and adjust the amount of vegan stock.
- Whilst cooking the curry if your sauce is too thin at the end stage, it can be easily thickened by mixing one tablespoon of cornflour [cornstarch] with one tablespoon or two of water and stirring to combine. Pour or scrape this into the curry and simmer for a minute. This will thicken up the sauce. If required an extra tablespoon of cornflour can be made up and added to the curry again.
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Thanks so much, Jacq x