Friday, August 29, 2008

Trader Joe's Indian Fare

I have made a discovery that is so fantastic that I want to share it with everyone—

Trader Joe’s Indian Fare.

This is a small box which contains a pouch of Indian entrée. Specifically, I am talking about Punjab Choley. I had my doubts when I purchased it because how good can something “in a pouch” be? And how healthy is it? However, when I read the nutritional information, I discovered that a serving contains 210 calories, 8g total fat, and zero grams saturated and trans fats, 610mg sodium (not bad for a prepackaged main course), 6g fiber, and 7g protein. Okay, now can it be good???

I bought a couple of packages and I came across them yesterday when, at 2:30pm, Jack asked if we were going to have lunch. This is his way of reminding me that I’ve become so immersed in something else that time has flown by, and that he is hungry. It happens often. :)

I had planned to make fried rice for lunch earlier in the week, and cooked and refrigerated the rice, but it was too hot on that particular day so I forgot about it (the container was shoved back into the never-never land of my refrigerator). When trying to decide what to make immediately (and now I was starving, too, but hadn’t realized it until Jack reminded me), I saw the box of Indian Fare and remembered the cooked rice.

Seriously, it took less than 7 minutes to make lunch. I sprinkled a little water on the surface of the rice, replaced the cover, and heated it for 2 minutes while I found a small casserole dish, opened the packet, and poured the contents into it. Then I stirred a little lowfat plain yogurt into the mixture and added some frozen peas, then the entrée went into the microwave for 3 minutes. I let it sit for a couple of minutes while I microwaved the rice a little more. Then, voila, lunch!

I knew that it was Trader Joe’s, and I love all things Trader Joe’s, but I didn’t expect this Indian meal-in-a-pouch to be so darn good.

The sauce, made a little creamier with my addition of yogurt, was tomatoe-y and quite spicy and fragrant with cumin and cinnamon. The chickpeas were a perfect texture, not mushy at all. If it had been a little less spicy, I would have not minded, but it was absolutely delicious. Now, for dinner this would have been a little sparse, but adding another side dish would make it more substantial, and for lunch it was a perfect amount.

The other variety which we bought was Madras Lentils. At $2.19 a box, how can anyone who enjoys Indian food, and is in need of a quick meal, go wrong? Rice can be prepared ahead of time, up to four days, and refrigerated (or frozen for longer, but it would take a few additional minutes to thaw).

I love Indian food, and I wouldn’t recommend this Punjab Choley if it weren’t great (and I cannot wait to try the Madras Lentils now). Is there anything that TJ's makes and isn't good? I've already raved about some of their other products, and I really do think that I need to do some comprehensive research. I'll be in that area next Wednesday... ;)

We will be spending the long weekend at the lake house and I will probably not be back to post here until the beginning of next week. I hope that everyone has an enjoyable holiday!

Edited to say that I have since tried many varieties of the Indian Fare, but my favorite is the Madras Lentil (with a large dollop of lowfat plain yogurt-- absolutely essential!).


Nikki Miller-Ka said...

I hope your holiday is great, too, Vicci!

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but I stumbled across your blog, and I agree that Trader Joe's Indian fare is the best!!!

Vicci said...

Anonymous, thanks for stopping by. :) I also introduced those pouches of TJ's Indian Fare to a friend and, together, we set up an impromptu Indian buffet for dinner recently. How easy is it to boil four pouches, pour them into separate bowls, and serve steamed basmati rice and TJ's naan on the side?! And we all thought that each variety tasted great! I love TJ's...

Lisa said...

Vicci, I agree! TJ's Indian Fares are delicious! I thought I'd let you know that our grocery store (Safeway) has started carrying something very similar. The brand is "Truly Indian." So far I've only tried their Chatpate Choley. It was scrumptious, but much hotter than the TJ's equivalent. Phew. Anyway, I paid $3.49 for one whereas the TJ's one was $2.99, I think. In case your TJ's isn't close (as is my case), there's always the local grocery store.

Vicci said...

Lisa, wow! Hotter than TJ's equivalent? Would an appropriate word be "searing"? I'm surprised at how spicy some of TJ's food is, but their customers (us, included) obviously must love it.

I did try a few different meals in a brand which I found at a local grocery store, but they was not as good (flavors a little bland, sauces a little thin, etc.) as Trader Joe's. I have a 45 minute drive to the closest TJ's, and have learned to stock up.

Thanks for your comment! :D

Tom Elsasser's Blog said...

My wife and I had this in the cabinet for probably about a year and tonight, we were pitching some old stuff. For some reason, the picture on the box of this stuff didn't rest well with me, so I'd never tried it, although yes, Trader Joe's rocks in general. For some reason, I just wasn't quite sure about this boxed item... So, tonight, there went the bag of old crackers into the trash, followed by this and that, and ultimately the Punjab choley. Then, I turned to my wife and said, "let's at least heat it up and poke at it a little!" So, we did, and holy cow! What a SHOCK!!! Yes, I love Trader Joe's and expect quality products, but this simply exceeded all expectations! We hadn't prepared rice beforehand (again, I removed it from the trash can to give it a try!), but the core dish was just incredible. The beans melt in your mouth and the sauce left me craving more until I do it again, correctly, with the right side dishes, etc. What an incredibly surprise that I hope I can find this weekend at TJ's! My luck, it's been discontinued! Sure hope not! :0) You must try it if you haven't! -T&B, New Albany, Ohio

Vicci said...

Tom, you are pitching things from the pantry after only a year?!?!? ;)

The last time I stocked up (in mid-December) TJ's still carried the Punjab choley. That and the jaipur vegetables are my husband's two favorites, while I particularly enjoy the madras lentils(awesome topped with plain yogurt and chopped cashews!)and dal makhani.


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Erika said...

We just tried it today. Like you, didn't expect much from this boxed food item that was on thrblowest shelf for $1.99. I feel like I found a hidden gem. Whipped up a quick lunch with some naan and a sauce of greek yogurt & dill. Delish!

Erika said...

We just tried it today. Like you, didn't expect much from this boxed food item that was on thrblowest shelf for $1.99. I feel like I found a hidden gem. Whipped up a quick lunch with some naan and a sauce of greek yogurt & dill. Delish!