Make this simple and gently spiced mushroom masala curry for a fuss-free family-friendly weeknight meal.
With earthy mushrooms, protein-rich chickpeas and vibrant tomatoes, this vegan curry is packed with warm spiced flavours. It's super easy to make plus it's naturally gluten-free, vegan and kid-friendly.
This recipe was originally published on May 17, 2018 and updated with new images, ingredient notes and instructions on June 26, 2022.
Why You'll Love This Mushroom Masala Curry
This dish is such a handy one to have in the back pocket. It's perfect for weeknight meals and freezes well for later. It's also:
Finally, this mushroom curry recipe creates a meaty bowl without the meat. It's the oyster mushrooms!
One of my favourite things to cook with, King Oyster mushrooms are delicately flavoured taking on any sauce or seasoning you care to pair them with. Also, their texture, when shredded, is pretty chicken-esque.
I use them in my Vegan Chicken Pot Pies and they're so good!
What is Masala?
Masala is a spice mix popular in Indian cooking. It can vary from region to region but often includes spices like bay leaf, cumin seeds, cloves, coriander seeds, shah jeera, cinnamon, mace, and cardamom pods.
Masala curry is traditionally made with a meat protein - more often chicken - marinated in yoghurt and spices and char grilled.
The meat is then added to a spiced sauce and served with naan or rice.
Is Masala and Curry the Same Thing?
No. Masala is a spice blend while curry refers to either curry powder as a spice or a meal made with a protein or vegetables cooked in a spiced sauce or dry mix.
Okey-dokey, to the kitchen.
Ingredients and Substitutions for Mushroom Masala
King Oyster Mushrooms / Mushrooms. If you can get your hands on King Oyster Mushrooms, they are well worth the effort. These delicate shrooms have the uncanny ability to mimic the taste and texture of chicken.
However, if you can't get the large fungi, this curry will work with smaller oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms, Portobello (for a meatier flavour), wild mushrooms or better yet, a combination of several types.
Masala spice blend. The backbone of any good curry is the spice blend. This curry leans in to warming garam masala, bright turmeric, earthy cumin, citrusy coriander, floral cardamom and chilli. I use Kashmiri chilli here but you can use a mild chilli powder.
Tomato paste and passata. Tomato paste provides a concentrated tomato flavour while the passata works with the coconut milk and stock to create a balanced sauce. If you can't get passata, crushed or chopped canned tomatoes will do or you can chop 3 large tomatoes well and add them to your curry.
Coconut Milk. I prefer full-fat coconut milk to make this curry - you get a silkier, more full-bodied curry.
Note - While I don't recommend other milks, if you can't consume coconut milk I've had feedback from readers that almond or oat milk works too. To thicken the curry, you'll need to take a quarter cup of milk and stir in 1 tablespoon of corn starch (cornflour) to make a slurry. Towards the end of the cook, stir in the slurry and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened.
Stock. I use vegetable or vegan chicken-style stock to give the curry more depth.
Lemon juice. Lemon juice adds acidity, balancing the umami flavours.
How to Make Mushroom Masala Curry
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step 1. Wipe the mushrooms with a clean towel and trim the woody tips off. Lay each mushroom flat on a board and firmly (but carefully!) drag fork prongs down the length to create shreds. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set aside.
If you are using another type of mushroom, just wipe them clean and cut into half-inch wide slices.
Step 2. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over low to medium heat and add the onion to sauté for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spice blend before adding the garlic and ginger to cook until fragrant.
Step 3. Now you can go ahead and add the mushrooms and cook for around 3 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the chickpeas. Give them a quick stir to coat them in those delicious spices and add the passata, tomato paste, coconut milk and stock.
Step 4. Bring up the heat to bring the pot to a gentle boil before reducing it again to low and letting your mushroom masala simmer for around 40 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Step 5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the spinach and vegan butter. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes to continue to thicken and the spinach to wilt.
And you are done. Serve with rice, naan, or simply a salad.
Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You can freeze this curry in an airtight, freezer-proof container for up to 3 months. Make sure to cool the curry completely before popping it in the freezer.
The spinach will make the curry more watery upon thawing so if you can omit before freezing, I would. Add it when you are re-heating instead.
Remove the frozen curry and place the container on a plate. Pop it in the fridge to thaw overnight. To reheat, transfer the curry to a pot and gently re-heat over low to medium heat on the stovetop.
Totally. I use King Oyster mushrooms because they most resemble the texture and taste of chicken. If you can't source them, try small oyster mushrooms or even button mushrooms. You can even add Portobellos for a meatier version, wild mushrooms or a combination.
Of course! It's your curry. You can add other greens, maybe some small diced potato or finely sliced capsicum (pepper).
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Mushroom Masala Recipe
- 1 large, heavy bottomed pot
For the Curry
- 8 King oyster mushrooms or a mushroom of your choosing
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large brown onion, finely diced
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely grated
- 400 g / 14 oz chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1½ cups tomato passata
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 to 2 tablespoon vegan buttery spread
- 1 squeeze lemon juice optional
For the Spice Blend
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional) or all-spice (substitute)
- 1½ teaspoon Kashmiri chilli or a mild chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Trim and discard the woody tips of the King Oyster mushrooms (about 1-inch) and wipe the remaining with a cloth to remove any dirt. Lay the mushroom flat on a board and carefully drag fork prongs down the length of each mushroom to shred the "meat". Repeat with all mushrooms and set aside. If you are using another type of mushroom, just wipe them clean and slice thickly.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over low to medium heat and add the onion to sauté for 5 minutes. Add the spice blend - garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom or all-spice (optional), chilli and salt - and stir though. Continue cooking for a minute.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute or until fragrant. Stir the mushrooms and cook for around 3 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the chickpeas to coat them in the onions and spice.
- Add the tomato passata, tomato paste, coconut milk and stock and stir well. Increase the heat to high to bring the mixture up to a soft boil before reducing the heat to low again and cooking at a simmer for around 40 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the baby spinach and vegan butter. Allow the curry to sit for 5 minutes for the spinach to wilt. Serve with a squeeze of lemon (optional), basmati rice and either papadums or naan bread.