Vegetarian Dish

Vegan Meatball Curry

The dish is a vegetarian Indian curry with meatballs and potatoes, which originated in the UK.
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This easy vegan meatball curry has the most addictive, spicy tomato coconut sauce. Ladle it over a bowlful of cumin rice or scoop it up with a naan for a tasty and satisfying meal you’ll remember long after you’ve licked every last bit up. A one-pot, gluten-free and soy-free recipe.

Overhead shot of a gray clayware bowl of vegan meatball curry with cumin rice and tomato onion raita with a green napkin on black background.

This deeply satisfying, one-pot dish is what I rustle up when I want a hearty, nourishing curry in a hurry and it never lets me down. Even Jay, my picky eater, goes back for second and third helpings of this Vegan Meatball Curry. It’s that good.

I used south Indian flavors in this curry: curry leaves and coconut milk. I am not claiming any pedigree for it because it is completely my own invention and not from one part of India or the other. But the curry leaves and coconut milk give this sauce a standout individual flavor so distinct from other orange-sauce north Indian dishes you might be used to, like a vegan butter chicken or a vegan malai kofta curry (both dishes where you should never, ever use coconut milk).

This is also a deeply comforting curry. Imagine pouring a big ladleful of this creamy, silky sauce with plump, juicy vegan meatballs over a bowl of hot rice. Now imagine scooping up a bite with a big spoon and into your mouth. Can it get any better?

YES!! You don’t have to imagine- you could actually be in your kitchen, right now, making it and eating it before the clock has added on another 30 minutes. What are you waiting for?

Front shot of Indian meatball curry with rice and raita in bowls.

Steps and tips

  • You can use any vegan meatballs you like-storebought or homemade. I have a few delicious vegan meatball recipes on the blog, including these vegan air fryer meatballs I shared with you recently or these bean and oats meatballs I use to make my vegan barbeque meatballs. I’ve tried it with practically every storebought vegan meatball I can find around here, including Aldi’s, TJ’s and Beyond, and the verdict is always the same: delicious.
  • You will need to pan-fry the meatballs first for this recipe, even if they’re already baked or cooked. If you use something like Beyond, where the meatballs already have fat that will render, you can lightly spray the saucepan with oil before sauteing the meatballs. If you use something homemade, that has very little oil, add about a tablespoon or so to the pan to brown them. If you want to go oil-free with the meatballs you can also just warm them up on a baking sheet in the oven. The pan-fried meatballs with brown spots taste awesome, though, and they hold up better in the curry.
  • The sauce for these meatballs couldn’t be simpler. Sputter a few mustard seeds, some asafetida (optional, but asafetida adds umami so I recommend it) and curry leaves in the saucepan you used to pan-fry the meatballs (remove the meatballs to a plate first) . Blitz up tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic.
  • Slosh it all into the saucepan. Add powdered spices-turmeric, cayenne, paprika (for color) and ground coriander. Mix and let it cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes and onions are darker.
  • Stir in half the coconut milk with a cup of vegetable stock (or water). Let it come to a boil, then cook and cover the curry. The way to tell if a curry has reached its zenith is to monitor for small pools or specks of oily liquid that gather out at the top, usually in a darker color than the rest of the curry. This tells you that the fat has decided to go its own separate way after finishing its job of cooking the tomatoes and onions and other ingredients and making them as tasty as possible. Clever. It might take you a few curries to get this exactly right, but keep your eyes open and you’ll get better at it. The other option, of course, is to taste and make sure nothing tastes raw, although that’s not as perfect a science.
  • Always thin out the curry to your liking. This curry should be thick enough to coat the meatballs. When you add water or vegetable stock, always check seasoning and ensure you have enough salt in there.
  • Once the curry is cooked, turn the heat to low, add the remaining coconut milk and the garam masala. Stir it all in, garnish with coriander, and dinner is served.
Vegan meatball curry cooking in a nonstick pan with a wooden ladle.

What to serve with this meatball curry

  • Cumin rice is wonderful with this. I have an ultra-easy, no-fail, 15-minute recipe for Cumin Rice or Jeera Rice that you can make simultaneously with the curry if you’re a clever multi-tasker, making sure it all gets ready at the same time. Or just use plain rice if you’d rather not go to the trouble. Brown rice is awesome here too.
  • Naan is amazing to scoop this curry up with. Try this vegan garlic naan or this grilled naan. I even have a gluten-free naan for anyone that’s gf.
  • Serve a vegan cucumber raita on the side. This recipe is soy-free as well.
Overhead shot of vegan meatball curry with a cilantro garnish and cumin rice and yogurt raita, all in bowls, with a green napkin.

Ingredients

  • Vegan meatballs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Curry leaves
  • Green chili peppers, like jalapeno or serrano, optional
  • Asafetida (hing), optional
  • Onion
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • Tomatoes
  • Cayenne (or any red chili pepper powder)
  • Paprika (optional, mainly for color)
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander powder
  • Coconut milk (full fat, from a can)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro

Love this vegan meatball curry? Check out more vegan curry recipes on Holy Cow!

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