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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Friday, July 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas

"Kofta." Now that's a cool word. I've never heard it until stumbling across Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas on my latest trip. Basically, a kofta is a Middle Eastern/Indian/ Mediterranean meatball, with different variations from different regions. Sounds good, and I was interested.  My wife Sandy, though? My goodness. She's not usually not one to get too excited about most meats - she's on record on saying she'd be vegetarian if she only liked vegetables more, and I've seen her be indifferent towards bacon, of all things - but lamb anything she's all over it. "I've just never have had any bad lamb," she explains. Granted, me neither, but most of my exposure to the gastronomics of the wooliest of farm mammals has been limited to gyros at Greek food festivals and an occasional dish here or there from either TJ's or occasionally out. I recall us making lamb roast a year or two ago for Easter, and being relatively unimpressed but not overly dismayed by it. Regardless, since I said before we go in it was her turn to find something tasty for dinner, once these koftas were spotted, there was no question what was going on my dinner plate that night.

Like most of TJ's Indian-inspired dishes, the real highlight to me was the masala sauce. It comes frozen in a side packet that you swish the meatballs around in once they're heated up. It was so good - a little heat, a little creamy, but so much flavor - I think I got a hot dog bun out to grab every last drop I could. If you've had their masala sauce on other dishes before, you know what I'm talking about. It's gooooooooood. I think I could put it on anything.

As for the lamby balls themselves...to me, eh. Without the masala, they tasted like a meatier-but-still-tender sphere of gyro. That's not a bad thing, but it was kind of unexciting in of itself. Heating them was a cinch - a couple minutes on the stove top while steaming in a little water was all they really needed. Other times we've gotten frozen meatballs, I've had to cut them in half mid-cooking so the insides would thaw to a less than rock-solid state without blackening the outside. No such issue here. Neglected to take a picture of the finished product, but each kofta was a couple bites each, with ten in the package (so about 50 cents each), so it seemed like a decent value to me.

Sandy, though? Score this as another big winner for her, enough that she unequivocally gave them a perfect five. For me, I'm not as impressed, but when (not if, "when") these come back to my place for dinner again, I won't be disappointed. Sandy gets some more lamb, I get some more sauce, and we're both pretty darn happy then. Definitely a winner dinner.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Malai kofta is my favorite Indian dish and,dare I say, dish of all time. It's a vegetarian kofta. That creamy sauce, man. Never had TJ's but if it tastes authentic, I totally get where you're comin' from. Hot dog bun is sacrilegious. Naan only.

    1. Desperate times = desperate measures

  2. Is this gluten free? It looks like it! I'm going to run and check to see if my local store has it. I love me some Indian food, frozen or fresh, buffet or off the menu!

  3. I went looking for this today, and they were actually sampling it. BTW such a good idea. TJ should sample everything. There are so many things I would never have bought if it were not for the free sample. Anyways it was delicious. I bought a package, and it was dinner tonight. They served the meatball halved and toothpicked on a quarter of a pita bread that had been spread with a cream cheese/chive dip. There are 10 lamb balls in a package so you can figure out how many servings. In our house 2: tiny lady and man on a diet.

  4. Great ingredient list. Not a lot of frozen foods containing galangal at your local Safeway. Even Chrome spell check doesn't know what that is.

  5. I've gotten to the point where I just buy the masala simmer sauce in a jar, so I can put it on everything!

  6. I liked the flavor of the meatballs, thought they were a little tough, but tasty. The masala sauce, though, I felt was much too sour. Still eatable, but I much prefer the gravy in TJ's frozen Chicken Tikka Masala.

  7. Loved these. Goes well with TJ Vegetable Biryani.

  8. Could you please post the list of all the animals you've eaten? Looking to compare!

  9. I had these for the 1st time tonight. First I steamed them and then browned them nicely. Added the Masala sauce and BAM! Party in my mouth! There will be more of these scrumptious delights in my future, believe that.