That being said, Trader Joe's is one of those rare places where meaty foods and meatless foods are pretty much on a level playing field. There are plenty of options in both camps, and strict vegetarians probably don't feel like they're missing out on all that much. This product is a prime example. TJ's is a great place for meat eaters to discover that Meatless Mondays won't kill them—or that they can be "part time vegans." In fact, we've already reviewed a vegetarian tikka masala dish on this blog, as well as a non-vegetarian one.
Like the previous two tikka masala dishes, this one has some amazing sauce. It's full of Indian spices and flavor, it's creamy, and it's mildly hot. It's almost as good as masala sauce I've had from actual Indian restaurants. The rice is your basic basmati—the kind we usually see in these frozen Indian dishes from TJ's—flavored with oil and cumin, and as always, it blends very well with the sauce and other elements.
The vegan meat substitute was fairly neutral in flavor, which allowed the sauce to be the dominant taste of the dish. If anything, the vegan chunks tasted just ever so slightly soy-ish, with a breadiness about them as well. It wasn't an unpleasant flavor at all—on the contrary, it was delicate and satisfying, despite a decided lack of potency.
Texture-wise, the meatless chunks did a decent job of imitating white meat chicken pieces, if but perhaps a mite bit more chewy—certainly not to the point that I would complain. In fact, I've definitely had actual chicken that was far more rubbery than this on more than one occasion. I should note at this point that I did heat my entree in the microwave, although conventional oven instructions are given. Even though I've become far more proficient at traditional cooking in the past few years, my rule of thumb is that if it comes in a plastic tray with clear film on top, I'll go ahead and nuke it...or if I'm really hungry and don't want to wait the extra 20 minutes. In this case, it was both.
$3.49 at our local TJ's, six minutes in the microwave, and a reasonable calorie count for tikka masala...this gets a thumbs up from me.
Bottom line: 8 out of 10.