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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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trader Joe's Indian Fare Punjab Choley

For $1.99, there's not much more you could ask for from this product. It's super simple to store: no refrigeration or freezing necessary. "Put it in the pantry with your cupcakes," to quote Simon and Garfunkel...and to date myself terribly. It's very easy to prepare: just microwave or boil for a matter of minutes. And it's delicious. The smell of Indian curry will knock you over before you even taste it.

It's spicy, hot, flavorful, and very easy to serve, too. They recommend it with naan bread, pita, or basmati rice. Lacking any of those, we served it with brown rice, and it tasted delicious with that as well. If you'd like to watch us trying it for the very first time, or if you'd like to hear my really bad Indian accent, check out the YouTube clip here. You'll also get a very nice close up shot of the product as it looks outside the packaging, as several readers have been requesting.

It's not quite a main-course dish like the Chicken Tikka Masala or Lamb Vindaloo, but it makes a tasty, filling appetizer. It's chock full of chick peas, and there are little vegetable bits, and it all comes covered in an amazing Indian curry sauce. I did get one or two bites with a tiny piece of something rather crunchy, which turned me off slightly. Sonia thinks it was a chunk of Indian chili pepper, though it didn't seem hot enough to be that. It was almost like a bit of celery—which wouldn't have been bad at all if I had been expecting it. Otherwise, the texture is smooth throughout, and the chick peas taste and feel fresher than I'd expect them to.

I can't really think of any other complaints. Sonia loved it. We ate the whole package very quickly, and enjoyed every bite. We both give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.


  1. I used to really like the Punjab Eggplant variety of these Indian pouch meals from Trader Joe's. I have since stopped eating them after discovering how much sodium they have in them... yikes!


    1. This is my problem with label readers. They cost themselves a dining treat they enjoy because of labels. I long for the days when labels contained the product name and that's it. I hate scare tactic from the goverment and health gurus with these over exaggerated labels. Just eat and enjoy. Life is too short to read labels. If you base your life around what other people say you'll never enjoy anything ever. Everything is bad. Just eat and enjoy. Sheesh.

  2. i'm about to eat one of these things for dinner!

  3. They do indeed have a lot of salt/sodium, PM! Must eat them in moderation...or not at all for those with high blood pressure, etc. Good point.

    Enjoy, AD!

  4. I just stumbled across your blog. Scampering off to see if you've reviewed a few of my TJ faves. If not, I might ask if I can!

  5. Trader Joe's Indian Fare Dal Makhani is my favorite, and for months, it is not in my store. It's the best of all the Indian Fare. Please, Trader Joe's, keep the best one! Everybody, check it out -- It's the package with the white swirl in the middle of the curry.

  6. Here's a link with photo of package of DAL MAKHANI, my favorite Indian Fare http://www.fooducate.com/app#page=product&id=8B9E8DA6-169F-11E0-BF92-FEFD45A4D471

  7. I'll keep my eye out for the Dal Makhani, mjinaz!

  8. TJ discontinued this product more than a year ago! It was my favorite product in the entire store. I have tried over 10 other packaged Dal Makhani products both in envelopes like TJs and several frozen ones. None compare to Trader Joe's. I wrote to TJ and asked them to bring it back, but no luck.

    Please, please, please do what you can to get them to carry it again.

  9. just introduced my costa rican girlfriend to tj punjab choley. i brought it down with me, figuring i'd get it through customs. she loved it as i knew she would. now i'm going to search for recipes of it and other indian foods, especially masalas and vindaloos and and and

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  11. Use extreme caution if you have acid reflux. I have kept mine under control for years. However, tonight I had punjab eggplant at about 6pm. When I went to bed at 1am, it all came rushing up to my throat. It was burning so bad and for so long, I thought I was gonna die. Mr. Joe, please test the acidity of your food, and protect the life and health of your customers.

  12. If you read labels and focus surely on that rather than eating tasty food you'll NEVER have anything good to eat. Reading labels is fine but choosing not to eat something you like based on a label you read is ridiculous. Enjoy. Have fun. Leave the labels behind and just EAT ;)

  13. I love Punjab Choley as a taco filling. Just warm it, then mash it up. It goes great with cheese, lettuce, avocado and cilantro. I serve it every time we have surprised guests over because it serves 2- 4 people. Everyone loves it! I tell them to get it at TJ's. I'm selfish, I really serve it because I want to make sure the product sells well in the store, so they don't discontinue it, unfortunately, they just did! UGH!

  14. They discontinued it! Anyone know why? This was the highest protein content of their 4 veggie ones. Very disappointed in TC!

  15. I just surfed here looking for discussion of "discontinued Trader Joes Indian chickpeas" after going to 2 different TJ stores trying to find some. :-( Hopefully enough other people keep asking them to bring it back.