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Vegan Japanese Curry with Red Lentils

Learn how to make Japanese curry, roux and all, from scratch with this easy vegan recipe. Hearty, healthy comfort food made in your own kitchen!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 6




  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 potatoes chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger minced
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery chopped
  • ¾ cup red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp Japanese Worcestershire sauce*
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 grated apples or ½-1 cup applesauce** adjust to desired sweetness
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce*


  • Heat oil in a pan over medium low heat. When hot, add in flour and stir constantly until it turns light brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Once brown, add in curry powder and cacao powder and mix briefly, about 30 seconds. Take off from the heat and set the roux aside.
  • Heat a bit of oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook about 10 minutes until lightly caramelized.
  • Add potatoes, garlic, ginger, carrots, and celery. Stir and add the vegetable broth.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and add lentils, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and grated apple. Simmer until the lentils are cooked and potatoes are tender.
  • Add roux, zucchini, and soy sauce and continue cooking until the zucchini are tender and the roux is completely dissolved. Add more vegetable broth or water as needed if you want a thinner curry.
  • Serve with rice.


Roux: If you love curry and make it weekly, or even every other week, I highly recommend making a big batch of roux (think 5x). It will save you so much time in the future and you'll be able to whip up a big batch of curry in no time! Let the roux cool to room temperature, then freeze in ice cube trays. Once the roux has frozen into blocks, pop them out of the ice cube tray and store in a freezer-safe bag.
Apples: I've found pureed persimmons actually make the best tasting Japanese curry, but persimmons are seasonal so I usually use apples. However, if you have extra ripe persimmons (like mushy-ripe), use them instead!