Thursday, June 26, 2014
Trader Joe's Four Uttapam with Coconut Chutney
Another tactic, and more pertinent to Trader Joe's Four Uttapam with Coconut Chutney, is many food that never contained gluten to begin with are now slapped with or marketed under being gluten free. For example, read this about Heinz Ketchup. Now, an average consumer may not know what an "uttapam" is (I sure didn't) but once the first two words of the little subheaded description are read ("rice breads")...well, that's a pretty significant hint it's gluten free. Rice is a pretty common substitute grain (with varying results), so unless so gluten would reach its wheaty tentacles in through some ultra-nefarious means, the "gluten free" at the top of the box is really as useful as a "cholesterol free" label on a box of Cheerios.
Enough about all that, let's talk uttapams. They're fun. They're funky. And Trader Joe's may have helped Columbus them, because I've never heard of them or had one, but now I'm kinda intrigued. If made from an authentic Indian recipe, as the box claims, that means the lentil/rice mixture that makes up these pancake-like yum-yums was fermented for a while. That's probably the case, as there's this lingering kinda sour/kinda sweet/kinda sharp/kinda acidic taste to the batter that's the base flavor. Not sure of the best words to adequately describe, but it sure was unexpected upon first bite. Texturally these uttapam seem to be a cross between mashed potatoes and pancakes, while the undersides of these cakes crisp up nicely when made in the frying pan. Can't imagine microwaving them as alternate directions suggest...ugh. The taste of the batter is balanced out nicely by a certain spiciness - it's not spicy in a hot, peppery way, but in a more herbaceous sense from the abundance of onion tidbits and cilantro choppings. And for a little added subtle sweetness, the coconut chutney up top helps bind the whole dish together. There's no taste that's too scarce or too prevalent - it's perfectly harmonious.
If memory serves me right, these "Indian pizzas" (as they're sometimes referred to, apparently) were in the neighborhood of $3 for the box, and honestly, if I were to go out to an Indian restaurant, order some uttapam, and get something approximately like these, I'd be pretty happy. Let's be positive and say that means more about the overall quality of this product versus anything else. Both Sandy and I thoroughly enjoyed them and can see them as a great appetizer for any Indian-themed meal. Nicely done.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Four Uttapam with Coconut Chutney: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons