I decided I had to check out Trader Joe’s, not without some misgivings — I had checked out Whole Foods a while back and left reeling at the prices. But an acquaintance works there, and he said I should give it a try. I got stopped at the frozen foods section when I ran across the Indian dinners, which were quite reasonably priced — about $3.50 each. They had three varieties in stock, so I grabbed a couple of the Chicken Tikka Masala entrees.
(Full disclosure: I love Indian food, not that I claim any particular expertise. It just tastes good. One of my chief treats used to be to go to an Indian restaurant in my neighborhood and hit the buffet. Then I would waddle home and sleep for a couple of hours.)
The portion is fairly generous, about 8 ounces: the package consists of a divided tray, one side holding the Chicken Tikka Masala, with lots of sauce, and the other side filled with cumin-flavored basmati rice. (For side dishes, you’re on your own — a nice helping of sliced or shredded cucumbers is a perfect accompaniment, though.) Under normal conditions, one of these will make two meals for me, with a little additional rice. (However, with the cold weather we’ve had having in Chicago this winter, I found myself eating like a starving wolf — but one of these entrees fills me up nicely, even then.)
The flavor is excellent — just a little bit of bite, enough that you can feel the heat at the back of your mouth, but nothing overwhelming. The portion includes maybe 6-8 good-sized chunks of chicken breast, which are very tender — you can cut them with your fork. You can taste the spices, especially the turmeric, but they blend nicely in your mouth, and there’s a nice buttery undercurrent to the sauce. The rice is delicately flavored with cumin, and makes a nice foil to the chicken. And somehow, it’s perfectly cooked, just slightly chewy and not at all soggy.
One plus on this is that you can either microwave it or heat it in a conventional oven. And it’s simple — just put the dinner tray on a cookie sheet and pop it into a pre-heated oven 375 degree for 25 minutes.
Nutritionally, it’s better than one might expect: no trans fat, although there are 12 grams of fat, including saturated fat (5g), and a fair amount of sodium — 710mg, for 29% of your RDA. It’s high protein, though, at 16 grams, and fairly low in carbohydrates — 30g. Total calories per serving (one entrée): 300.
I can certainly recommend this one wholeheartedly, although I could wish that there were a bit more rice, to even things out for those times when I’m not ready to eat anything that doesn’t fight back. (I suppose I could try to eat only half the rice with half the chicken, but the rice is so delicious!)