foodie fights, battle zucchini and garam masala

29 Jun

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.



18 Responses to “foodie fights, battle zucchini and garam masala”

  1. Andrea June 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

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

  2. Courtney June 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    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!

  3. Aimee June 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm #

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

  4. rachael June 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    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 June 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    You are so going to win!

  6. elfmage June 30, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    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 June 30, 2009 at 8:04 am #

    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 June 30, 2009 at 11:24 am #

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

  9. vegancircus June 30, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    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 July 1, 2009 at 12:22 am #

    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 July 2, 2009 at 7:13 am #

      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. gansie @endless simmer July 1, 2009 at 7:39 am #

    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 July 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

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

  13. Vijita July 8, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    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 July 8, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

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

  15. trina July 27, 2009 at 2:17 pm #


  16. Jenni August 2, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    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:

    • Kris August 3, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

      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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