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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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trader Joe's Indian Fare Madras Lentil

If you like veggie chili, I can't imagine you not liking this dish. It's another winner in TJ's "Indian Fare" line. At a mere $1.99, this product's an incredible value in my opinion.

It's tomato-based, with some kidney beans, lentils, and subtle spices. It goes great with rice, and I'm certain it would pair up nicely with Indian naan bread. It's not particularly chunky other than the beans, and unlike other veggie chilis, you won't find big pieces of tomatoes or other vegetables, but the lentils add a welcome heartiness that adequately fills that void.

The box suggests using it as a burrito filling, in case you're going for that "Indi-Mex" vibe. And I think it would work fine in any context you might use plain old American chili, too. You could put it on baked potatoes, create an interesting dish of international chili fries, or make your own Indian-American chili dog.

But at least part of the fun of dishes like this one is experiencing a small taste of another culture. You can be adventurous without breaking the bank at a fancy Indian restaurant. Apparently, Madras Lentil is also known as Dal Makhni, and it's usually "cooked on special occasions," according to the packaging. Click here to take a gander at other Indian-inspired product reviews from the WG@TJ's gang.

Like the Punjab Choley, this product requires no refrigeration, and like the Indian "hot pockets," it can be prepared in the microwave. It is, of course, vegetarian, but not vegan, as it does contain some cream and butter. It's not as hot as I would have liked it to be, but I guess not every Indian dish is supposed to be a spice-fest.

Considering the low cost, the ease of preparation, and the no-maintenance shelf-stability, this is one of the most hassle-free items we've come across at TJ's—or anywhere for that matter. Sonia and I are both impressed. 4 stars from each of us.

To see the prepared product close up, check out our video review on YouTube.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.


  1. I love the Tasty Bites company version of this from Costco. I guess now I can get it at TJs. The ingredients look the same. Woohoo!

  2. People commented on the Facebook page about the Tasty Bites brand. Trader Joe probably uses their product and packages it differently. But somehow, TJ's seems to sell it for even cheaper than Costco in some places!

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  4. Yes, the Madras Lentil is one of my TJ's faves - I try to always have a package of it around.