An easy and low calorie vegetarian Chinese curry, just like my favourite Chinese chip shop makes! The perfect fakeaway.
If you're reading this, you either know exactly what I mean by 'chip shop Chinese curry', or if you're not a fellow Brit, you may have no clue. Hopefully by the end of this post, you'll understand what I'm talking about!
What is a chip shop Chinese curry?
The UK is famed for its amazing chip shops, but we also have plenty of the lesser-known Chinese chippy - basically a place that sells both Chinese food and the usual chip shop fare.
Don't ask me why - I imagine it just makes more economic sense for some Chinese take aways to make sure they sell chips too (it's all we Brits need to convince us that somewhere's worth visiting...). Whatever the reason, it's led to some pretty awesome mash-ups - like this chip shop Chinese curry!
Chip shop curry sauce
This kind of Chinese curry is generally made with the curry sauce that we Brits like to eat on our chips - it's basically a thick sauce that's simply flavoured with curry powder.
I've blogged my own chip shop curry sauce recipe before - it goes beautifully on thick, British-style chips. But it can also be used to make a proper curry, with plenty of vegetables and tofu.
Again, I imagine it's mainly an economic decision for Chinese chippies to use this curry sauce to make an actual curry, rather than only using it for chips (if you've got it, you may as well use it, right?), but hey - it works for me. The end result is a rich and tasty curry with loads of veggies and a truly irresistible sauce.
Plus, it's actually pretty healthy, with all those fresh veggies, and low calorie too!
Is a chip shop Chinese curry actually Chinese?
In short - no.
Please do correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure this kind of Chinese curry isn't actually remotely Chinese - nor is it at all Indian.
As far as I know, it's purely a British thing.
(and people think we Brits have terrible food...?!)
This Chinese curry may not be an authentic Chinese recipe by any means, and you won't need tons of carefully blended spices to make it... but that's part of its charm. It's quick and easy to make, and will truly make you feel like you've made a trip to your favourite chip shop.
Vegetable and tofu curry
Of course, no curry is complete without heaps of veggies, so that's where this recipe begins, along with some crispy tofu.
I used a pack of mixed stir fry vegetables, but added a few extra veggies too - mushrooms, onion and peas.
I often take this approach with curries and stir fries - there are certain vegetables that I feel have to be included in a given dish, but using the bag of mixed veg as well helps to bulk things out, and gives you all those tasty extras like the beansprouts and bamboo pieces which would be expensive to buy individually.
Best of both worlds!
Homemade curry sauce
Next, add a good spoonful of curry powder and some flour. This forms the basis of the curry sauce - you just need to add a bit of veggie stock to make it nice and saucy.
My homemade chip shop curry sauce is actually a bit more complicated than this - still pretty straightforward, but it does have a couple more ingredients. But since with this recipe, you're already going to the effort of cooking the vegetables and tofu, I wanted the sauce itself to be really quick and easy.
And let's be honest - we're not going for haute cuisine here. Even with just a few ingredients, this chip shop Chinese curry is seriously tempting - the sauce is thick and bursting with flavour, and it goes beautifully with chips and rice.
Chips and rice?!
Yep - in a proper Chinese chippy, you often get the choice to have your curry served with rice, chips, or a bit of both - the good old 'half and half'.
Obviously this is the only sensible choice.
The rice soaks up the curry sauce, and really, what good is a curry without rice?
And the chips... well, you never need a reason to have chips with your meal.
How could I adapt this chip shop Chinese curry?
Feel free to use whatever vegetables you fancy in your curry.
For some reason, mushrooms, peas and onions seem vital in my head - they make it seem like a truly authentic chip shop Chinese curry. But maybe that's just what my local Chinese chippy uses!
Really, you can use whatever vegetables you like - peppers, broccoli, mange tout, cauliflower, courgette... it's a curry, it will work with anything.
You could also swap the tofu for a tin of chickpeas if you're not a tofu fan.
Whatever you put in your chip shop Chinese curry, that thick, tasty curry sauce is truly irresistible!
Easy chip shop Chinese curry
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- 1 tablespoon oil
- 200 g (~ 7 oz) firm tofu, drained
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 4 medium mushrooms, sliced
- 200 g (~ 2 cups) mixed stir fry vegetables
- 80 g (~ ¼ cup) frozen peas
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon medium curry powder
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 500 ml (~ 2 cups) vegetable stock
- Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve (optional)
- Cut the tofu into pieces, and press it for a few minutes inside a clean tea towel or between some kitchen paper.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, and add the pieces of tofu. Cook over a medium-high heat for a few minutes each side, until nicely browned. Add all the vegetables (onion to peas), and cook for a further 5 minutes, until partially cooked. Add the garlic, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the curry powder and flour, mix well to coat, and then add the vegetable stock. Allow to simmer gently until cooked to your liking - the sauce will thicken up as it simmers, so just leave it as long as you like (maybe another 5 minutes). Serve topped with some fresh coriander if desired.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.
Niall Murphy says
In Australia this kind of curry sauce is called “Irish Curry” and I have seen large tins of it in a wholesaler. How and why I don’t know but it must be something to do with the large scale emigration of young Irish people over the last 10 + years to Australia. Anyway can’t wait to try this!
Becca @ Easy Cheesy Vegetarian says
Chloe Edges says
Both of my parents always get chips from the Chinese and they love the curries too. I'll have to make this for my Dad sometime!
This type of curry sauce is very similar to the kind that the Japanese serve with Katsu. So I don't know if thats the orgin. Other asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore both have curries more of this type too. And there is a cuisine/ethnic group called Nonya which is a mash up of Chinese and Malay cuisine. I think it might have its roots there too. Interesting to think about as I haven't before!