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, January 29, 2013

Trader Joe's Aloo Chaat Kati Pouches

Anything I can say about Hot Pockets, Jim Gaffigan has already said much better. As if I needed to remind myself, for whatever reason, a few months ago I was at Target and saw some pretzel/turkey/bacon/cheese montrosity that somehow looked, well, "appealing" isn't exactly the right word. It was more a word that somehow means "If such a thing as tasty Hot Pocket is possible, this would be it." Nope. Fail. Gross. Pretty much the cheese's fault. Maybe Archer Farms could take a better crack at it.

Anyways, despite the name of this particular product being Trader Joe's Aloo Chaat Kati Pouches, I will refer to them the rest of this post as being Trader Joe's Indian Hot Pockets, because you cannot tell me that they're not. They even come with crisping sleeves. They even call them "crisping sleeves." This is a Hot Pocket, through and through.

And, in stark contrast to most of our TJ's Indian food experiences whether current or past, they're a major disappointment. Chief reason: Look at the picture on the box. Looks like crispy, buttery, samosa-inspired crusty-carb incarnation. Then look at this picture, taken of my Indian Hot Pocket, after a few strategically placed bites:


Looks nothing alike. Furthermore, this particular crust? Uggggggggh. What comes to mind is stale Chuck E Cheese pizza crust flattened via steamroller. It's tough and chewy and not even remotely crusty. It's nasty. Granted, it could be better if baked, but I'm not going to eat these at home where I'm trying my best to eat meals without barcodes.

The rest of the filling is okay, I guess. To be honest, I wasn't much of a fan. Between my two IHPs there were about three discernible chickpeas, a whole bunch of mush, some typical Indian spices, nothing that really said "chaat masala" or "tamarind chutney" to me, and whole bunch of big ol' chunks of onions. Now, I like onions, quite a bit actually, but there were too many of them and too little of the other stuff. It was enough that my breath literally and tangibly felt funny until I could come home and brush. Plenty hearty and filling, though. It wasn't enough to dissuade me from being interested in an aloo chaat dish the next time I go to an Indian restaurant, especially if they look something like this, but I won't be running back to these, especially after gandering at the nutritional info. Forgive the Frankenstein Photoshop job, it's been years since I've messed with it.


Wisely, Sandy avoided these. Sometimes she misses something great, but other times she's absolutely right. I cannot even imagine her reaction if she tried one of these, but if the uncrusty crust wouldn't turn her off completely, the filling would. Fortunately, I made a call to the bullpen, and one of our Facebook fans, Martha, gave us a pretty complete rundown, which I'll copy here in its entirety: "I have tried them. The filling is delicious (and vegetarian, for the person who was asking). The crust, however, leaves a bit to be desired. I wanted the pastry to be delicate and buttery like a samosa, because that's how it looks on the box, but it's actually more like the crust on a hot pocket. If it had a better crust it would be an 8 or 9, but I have to give it a 5. Too bad." So I read that as her giving it a 2.5. That's more generosity than I can spare. There's just not that much good I can say here.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Indian Hot Pockets...err, Aloo Chaat Kati Pouches: 3.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


19 comments:

  1. Ack! Disappointing as I just picked some up and have them sitting in my freezer. Maybe I'll try baking them instead.

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    1. So based on your review (and my needing a quick-ish lunch), I microwaved it in the sleeve for one minute and finished cooking in the toaster oven (without the sleeve--for about 7 mins). I had some plum chutney in the fridge so I ate it with that. I thought it was pretty good this way. Certainly much better than a hot pocket, but not nearly as good as a real Kathi roll.

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  3. I love your blog and usually buy stuff (or not) based on your comments. However, this time I got these a few weeks before your post. I baked one IHP in a toaster and the other in a conventional oven and they were both great. I am Indian so I usually judge TJ's Indian fare a bit more harshly but these were great! I had tamarind chutney on hand so maybe that made a difference also. At $2.29 per box I will buy more.

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  4. I picked these up and they weren't bad. I had very low expectations, so that helped I'm sure. I baked ours in the oven (we don't own a microwave) and they were nice and crisp. The onion was off-putting as I'm not a fan of onions, but my husband thought they were awesome.

    The frozen garlic naan from TJ's is sooooooooo good too.

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  5. Oh, I hate it that your review pops up when I google Trader Joe's Aloo Chaat Kati Pouches. This was one of the best TJ items I ever had. We used a microwave and then we finished it off in the oven. The pouches were crispy, tasty, and delicious. I feel like you should re-review this product to do it justice.

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  6. I thought these were great as well. Perhaps you were expecting a hot pocket like consistency/exterior. I thought the wrap was similar to a kathi roll flaky bread. I read your review first and was dreading giving it a shot since I already bought it. They were amazing. not as nice as the real kathi rolls available in some restaurants but for the price and convenience it was amazing. I too microwaved and then used the toaster over for the last few minutes.

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  7. I just had one for lunch. It wasn't bad at all. I think it could have been crispy but as it was a frozen food my expectations of that was low. However my pocket did not look like your at all. The one I just had looked a lot closer to the box picture.

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  8. I never use the microwave for these type of things. I love these.....please try them in the oven... and let them go a little past the recommend time.

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  9. Adding to the chorus of people saying these things are great and you're way off base.

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  10. I've never microwaved these, always bake them, and I think they're great. I dip them in full-fat yogurt to cut the spice. Normally I trust your reviews but I think you did these a disservice by microwaving them.

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  11. I tried these last night. Baked in the oven. They were fine, but with every bite my husband and I found ourselves wishing they were samosas. I wouldn't rank them so low as 3.5. out of 10. More like 5-6. And at 9 Weight Watchers points per pocket I won't be buying these again.

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  12. I love these. Flat out love them, as does my wife. Strong Indian flavor, just a great tasty item. I give this a 10.

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  13. I loved these and just picked up a second batch after trying them for the first time. Certainly a lot better than hot pockets.

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  14. its been a while since you wrote this and maybe they changed it because my crust was mildly bubbly and samosa like... however it didnt crispin the middle both times i made them. iliked the crust though. i HATE the filling. they could do so much better. they are not just spicy. they are WAY too spicy. and not in a good, flavor enhancing way. in a go into choking coughing fits the back of my throat feels like someone is stabbing me with needles way. which i would find my way around if i tasted anything else but it didnt taste like anything but mushy spice. both times i ended up spooning out all the filling and eating only the crust, which i liked. and i wish it was filled with say... mhadjeb filling (caramelized onions, tomatoes, and harissa) or jamaican patty style filling, or... anything else, basically.

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  15. I wonder if the recipe might change over time (or even the manufacturer TJs buys from). I'm sure these are better done in the oven, but I use them for a quick lunch on weekdays, and I like them a lot even microwaved. The crust is okay, and I LOVE the spicy filling. And I don't like it if there's too much onions (I don't like some of TJs soups for this reason), so I wonder if they cut down on the onions.

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  16. I had one today, microwaving it at work for lunch. It cooked up just fine, but I agree with others that the filling is seriously spicy hot. I don't enjoy food that makes my nose run lol. It does have a tasty Indian flavor, so if heat is your thing go for it.

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  17. I just ate one. I like it but it is mad hot!!

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