Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala

Loved it!!!

How about calling this Trader Jograj's Chicken Tikka Masala? It tastes just as authentic as the food from the best Indian restaurants I've been to. And that's saying a lot. I really like Indian food, and there are some killer Indian restaurants back in L.A., so my standard was set pretty high.

TJ's really went above and beyond with this dish. Everything down to the Basmati rice was phenomenal. The texture of the chicken is excellent, there's a good amount of sauce, and the real kicker is that they got the flavor right. The Indian spices that give Chicken Tikka Masala that unique taste were all present in the proper amounts and proportions. There might be some Indian restaurants in this country that can do slightly better with fresh ingredients and a hefty price tag, but if you're looking for better frozen, microwaveable Indian food than this, I think you're searching in vain.

Our side dish was Trader Joe's Channa Masala. This item is a noble effort on TJ's part, indeed, but I'm not quite as impressed with it as I was with the chicken. There's plenty of tasty masala sauce, and the chick peas are plentiful (or "Garbanzo beans," if you prefer), but they were a little too hard. They tasted fine, but they were just a bit stiff. I know I'm being pretty picky. It's a pretty tall order to ask for microwaveable Indian food that's on par with a gourmet restaurant. I think TJ's did the impossible with the Chicken Tikka Masala, and they came darn close with the Channa.


Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Tandoori Naan bread is in the same league as the masala dishes. It's almost too good to be true. Some huge Indian food connoisseurs might tell you the naan is better at their favorite 5 star Indian eatery, but again, we're talking about a grocery store product that's a fraction of the price that can be heated in the oven or microwave. I really can't complain. It's whole wheat, so it's good for you. It's a bit thicker than the naan I'm used to from Indian restaurants. I wouldn't say that's a weakness for it, though. It might not be identical to the most authentic naan's, but it's puffy and thick, and that gives it a heartier quality.

All in all, I'd say if you love Indian food, you'll love Trader Joe's, er, Trader Jograj's offerings. I highly recommend them...even if you're not familiar with Indian food, TJ's might be a good place to try out different dishes without making the same monetary investment you would at a fancy restaurant.

Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala gets a 5 out of 5 from me. Sonia gives it a 4.5. Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Trader Joe's Channa Masala, the Garbanzo bean dish, gets a 4 from me. 4 from Sonia. Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Tandoori Naan gets a 4.5 from me and a 5 from Sonia. Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

12 comments:

  1. Have you had the naan in the freezer section? I find that to be nearly identical to the naan I'm used to in restaurants (and bizarrely low-calorie, I don't know how they do it). Defrosts easily...I make grilled cheese naanwiches with it.

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  2. The frozen Chicken Tikka Masala is by far the best Trader Joe's has to offer. Although the portion is small, it does not disappoint. It's ALMOST restaurant quality. Delicious. Team it up with the frozen Garlic Naan (with a little butter on top) and you have a winning combo.

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  3. Delicious! I will be buying quite a few more of these. If it is your whole dinner, you might need two, or make yourself some extra rice.

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  4. i bought the chicken tikka today, and im excited to try it. however the naan was very disappointing, as I am Indian myself and definitely didn't find it remotely close (in taste) to the naan we get at restaurants.

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  5. Yum! I had the chicken last night. Really delicious. I also bought the Channa. I hope that it will be just as tasty.

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  6. Hello! A friend pointed me in your direction after seeing my blog review about one of Trader Joe's products, and I am impressed with your reviews! Check out my review on their Masala sauce here: http://panda-belle.blogspot.com/2012/03/trader-joes-masala-simmer-sauce.html

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  7. Less than half the number of chicken pieces as are pictured on the box. I had 3. But maybe that's just as well, because it's so SPICY! Whew!

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  8. I enjoy this very much and occasionally bring it to work for lunch. I pair it with a TJ's garlic naan, toasted (so far I've only had the fresh-baked ones but am interested to try the frozen)and a side of plain greek yogurt. I have a very mild (some would say wimpy =) palate, and the sauce is on the spicy side for me. Tiny bites of the yogurt along with it really mellow it out and also add some substance and protein to the meal. A great combo!

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  10. Had the Tikka Masala yesterday. Microwaved according to instructions. I'd give it 7 out of 10. Super fast and a good portion size for lunch or a light supper. It's not blow-your-head-off spicy but it's flavorful. It's 8 points on Weight Watchers. Recommend.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your scores and weight watchers info, Suzanne!

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