When I found out last week that I was picked for Bat­tle 6 over at Foodie Fights, I was very excited. For those of you who aren’t famil­iar with Foodie Fights, it’s basi­cally an online ver­sion of Iron Chef. Blog­gers who would like to par­tic­i­pate sub­mit an entry and every two weeks a new round of peo­ple are drawn. From their sub­mis­sions, two ingre­di­ents are selected and then the con­tes­tants have less than a week to cre­ate one dish using those ingre­di­ents. Their entries are then voted on– one pop­u­lar vote and then a vote by the 2 guest judges. Who­ever has the most points wins and gets to guest judge in the next round. This is not a veg-community based thing, it’s a broad food-community thing, so any and every food blog­ger can participate.

When I saw the ingre­di­ents, how­ever, I was at a loss. We eat zuc­chini every week, pretty much, and the thing that I like about it is that it has no per­son­al­ity of it’s own. I can eas­ily meld it to suit my needs. But garam masala? My only expe­ri­ence with that is Indian cook­ing. But, nat­u­rally, I wanted to think out­side the box. Zuc­chini is some sort of curry dish was just too obvi­ous. And I also had to think out­side of my com­fort zone. I had been secretly hop­ing for dessert-friendly ingre­di­ents, as that’s my spe­cialty. While I did find some Indian desserts that called for garam masala, I wasn’t feel­ing it. I prayed to the foodie gods to bring forth some sort of inspi­ra­tion… and then it came to me.

I present you my entry into Bat­tle 6, a bar food appe­tizer dressed up a bit: East-Meets-West Fried Zuc­chini Masala with Mango Chut­ney and Gar­lic Cilantro Aioli.

Any sort of fried food needs some­thing to be dipped in. I spied some beau­ti­ful man­gos at the gro­cery store the other day and inspi­ra­tion took hold to make a spicy, fra­grant chut­ney. Then I thought of the com­mon use of yogurt in Indian food to cool the heat, so a cilantro aioli seemed like a nat­ural pairing.

The beau­ti­ful chut­ney ingredients:

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I couldn’t find a chut­ney recipe I par­tic­u­larly liked, so I pieced this one together from about 5 dif­fer­ent recipes. It’s very sub­tle and tangy, but an edge of heat.

Mango Chut­ney

2 tbsp. veg­etable oil
1/2 teas. red pep­per flakes
1 medium red onion, diced
1 inch gin­ger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup diced red bell pep­per
1 large ripe mango, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. mild vine­gar (I used rice vinegar)

In a pan over medium low heat, heat oil. Add red pep­per flakes and cook for about 30 sec­onds. Add onion and cook for about 1 minute, stir­ring fre­quently. Add gin­ger and bell pep­per and cook until onion is translu­cent, about 2 min­utes. Add mango and mix well. In a small bowl, com­bine sugar and vine­gar and then add to mango mix­ture. Cook cov­ered, stir­ring often, until mango starts to soften, about 8–10 min­utes. Remove from heat and trans­fer chut­ney to a bowl to cool.

Then, I needed to make my aioli.

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Gar­lic Cilantro Aioli

3/4 cup vegan mayo
1 medium sized clove gar­lic, crushed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Com­bine all ingre­di­ents in a food proces­sor and pulse until cilantro is chopped and well-combined.

And then, of course, the star of our show. I decided to try using the garam masala in the bat­ter for the zuc­chini. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do zuc­chini coins or thin strips, until I spied these lit­tle guys at the farmer’s market.

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You can’t quite tell from the pic­ture, but these zuc­chini were tiny, just a bit thicker than a fin­ger. I cut them into fourths. If you can’t find zuc­chini this lit­tle you should cut your zuc­chini into thin coins.

Fried Zuc­chini Masala

1 1/2 cups zuc­chini ( cut into thin strips or coins)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teas. garam masala
1/4 teas. salt
1 1/4 cups soy milk
oil for frying

Wash and cut zuc­chini to desired size. When it comes to fry­ing a veg­etable, it is bet­ter to err on the side of thin­ness. In a medium sized bowl, com­bine flour, garam masala, and salt. Whisk together to com­bine. Whisk in milk, to a thick­ness sim­i­lar to pan­cake batter.

In a large pan, heat about 3/4 inch of oil on med-high heat. Oil is ready when a small piece of zuc­chini siz­zles on con­tact. Dip zuc­chini in bat­ter (you can mix them all in and just let them sit in the bat­ter if you want. Care­fully fry dipped zuc­chini in small batches (to avoid con­tact) until golden brown. Remove with a slot­ted spoon and let drain on a plate lined with paper tow­els. Repeat with remain­ing zuc­chini. Serve with aioli and chutney.

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The whole appe­tizer pulled together beau­ti­fully. The zuc­chini was crisp and lovely. The fra­grant essence of the garam masala burst into your mouth upon bit­ing into the zuc­chini, fol­lowed up with either the refresh­ing cool­ness of aioli or the spice of chut­ney. Jim enjoyed eat­ing half of the zuc­chini plain, then dip­ping the other half in the aioli and rolling it in the chut­ney to coat. This is def­i­nitely a food that you can play with while eat­ing, a taste of this, a taste of that. I’m quite pleased with the fla­vors tied together. The really har­mo­nized while never over­pow­er­ing one another. It was a per­fect snack on a warm sum­mer evening, adding a lit­tle exotic, East­ern spice to what could just have been a greasy Amer­i­can dish.

I can’t wait to see what the other con­tes­tants did with their ingre­di­ents. Be sure to check in at Foodie Fights tomor­row, Tues­day, to see all of the entries and to vote for your favorite! The win­ner will be announced on Wednesday.

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18 Responses to foodie fights, battle zucchini and garam masala

  1. Andrea says:

    The other fight­ers will cry “uncle” when they see this!

  2. Courtney says:

    Wow…you got my vote! I am obsessed with zuc­chini (I seri­ously LOVE it!!) and I am a huge fan of Indian foods/flavors (garam masala), so this sounds like a hit to me!

    Good Luck!
    Courtney

  3. Aimee says:

    Wow! That is seri­ously cre­ative! How can any­one top that?!

  4. rachael says:

    Very cre­ative! And what a great idea for zukes. I have about 84 sprout­ing to life on the mega plant in our yard. Rock on!

  5. Sandy says:

    You are so going to win!

  6. elfmage says:

    Oh wow, that looks so deli­cious! I want to try it now, but I have an abid­ing fear of cilantro… the smell makes me gag lol. Does it taste any­thing like it smells?

    And thank you for the blog com­ment — I feel hon­oured to have such a big name in the vegan blog world com­ment on my hum­ble blog! :)

  7. Thelma says:

    This looks FABULOUS!! I LOVE zuc­chini and see­ing this with Chut­ney!! WOW, may taste buds are water­ing!! When do we get to eat???

  8. Tina says:

    Looks delicious–I was espe­cially stunned by how beau­ti­ful that red onion is! Good luck!

  9. vegancircus says:

    Damn that looks good!!! I had no idea what an aioli was and now I do. I also have a new thing to attempt with zuc­chini (which I get bored with eas­ily). Thanks and good luck to you!!

  10. John Barrie says:

    I wound up here due to one of your “ene­mies”, the blog End­less Sim­mer, and had gone through every other con­tes­tant still think­ing that they were going to get my vote until I saw this. I don’t know about vegan mayo (crin­kles brow) but the whole con­cept here is dif­fer­ent. And I’m glad for the recipes that didn’t just bury zuc­chini in cake. Awe­some stuff.

    • Kris says:

      Thanks, John. I’ll be quite frank– I never liked reg­u­lar mayo and I’m not a fan of vegan mayo because it tastes exactly the same. But alas, it worked in this situation.

  11. com­peti­tor here.
    but i do love this line. should be in some sort of food rule book:
    “Any sort of fried food needs some­thing to be dipped in.”

  12. Sandra says:

    Wow, every­thing looks great! I’m def­i­nitely try­ing the chut­ney soon. You take gor­geous pics too.

  13. Vijita says:

    Thanks Kris! I def­i­nitely heard about the Foodie Fight through your blog, and I’m super excited to get cre­ative with basil and pineap­ple! (I’ve spent the whole morn­ing brain­storm­ing and tak­ing notes)

    Wouldn’t it be cool if each week there was a vegan contestant?

    BTW, you should have won!!!!

  14. Josiane says:

    That was really inspired! I must add this awe­some appe­tizer to my culi­nary repertoire.

  15. Jenni says:

    Hmm, I may have to try this, as I don’t eat eggs and I love this kind of food. Do you make your own garam masala? I can show you pic­tures on my blog of the method, it’s really easy: http://mangosoup.blogspot.com/2009/08/making-spice-masalas-garam-masala.html

    • Kris says:

      Hi Jenni!

      I didn’t make it myself for this chal­lenge, but I have in the past. I shouldn’t have been so lazy, maybe I would have won. :) Can’t wait to check out your blog, thanks for stop­ping by!

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