TJ’s Indian Fare (pouch) Yellow TADKA DAL


Trader Joe’s INDIAN FARE YELLOW TADKA DAL is “A savory, creamy and spicy blend of lentils and spices” (PRODUCT OF INDIA)

Trader Joe’s has quite a bit of Indian foods on offer, some in the frozen foods section as well as some non-frozen ones too, such as this line of Indian dishes which comes in pouches. Some of these I’ve tried are really good, especially this one, TADKA DAL.

We ate this TADKA DAL last night and I have to say I found it surprisingly tasty, I’m mean as in “This tastes like it came from an Indian restaurant” level good. This Tadka Dal was very flavorful and nicely spiced with a wee bit of heat going on. I put it in a pan on top of the stove (they suggest heating in hot water). If you serve this dal with a few other things, you have a nice easy dinner… We had this with another dish plus cooked Basmati rice, some Garlic Naan, Mango Chutney and a salad (TJ’s has a new Indian condiment, “Garlic Achar” which I want to try) If you add at least one other dish to the Dal such as TJ’s CHANNA MASALA you can have an easy and quite tasty pretty authentic Indian dinner.

These TJ’s “Indian Fare” products come in sealed plastic pouches, which are are shelf stable and are not a bad deal at about $2 each (10 oz bags) I find these pouches of Indian dishes are great things to have in the pantry for whenever we’re in the mood for Indian food, or come home and don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to order out.

I have not tried all of these Indian Fare pouches but there are a few varieties on offer. This Tadka Dal one is excellent and worth your giving it a try. By the way, in case you want to know what “Tadka” refers to: Tadka translates as “tempering.” It is a method widely used in Indian cuisine, in which whole or ground spices are heated in hot oil or ghee and the mixture is added to a dish.

TADKA DAL: ingredients include yellow split peas, butter, oil, tomato, chili pepper, salt, cumin, onion, curry leaves, yest, mustard see, tumeric…. The Sodium level listed is a bit high, so compensate for that with other dishes (such as using less salt to make your rice)

VEGETARIAN, GLUTEN FREE

TJ’s Indian Masala Simmer Sauce


Trader Joe’s Indian Masala Simmer Sauce makes a wonderful base for authentic Indian meals.
Masala Simmer Sauce is a Indian style spiced tomato-based sauce which can be used as the main sauce component to easily make a tasty Indian inspired dish that could come together in as little as 15-20 minutes. We made a very tasty Indian style stewed dish with chicken and vegetables using this sauce that was really tasty. We served it with basmati rice and Naan and some chutney. The sauce is concentrated so you can thin it with water as they suggest (TIP: after emptying the jar into the pot just half-fill it with 8 oz of water, shake it up and pour that into your pot). Or if you want to make a coconut milk version use 8 oz of coconut milk instead of water. I haven’t done that yet but I’m sure that would make a wonderful dish. The spices in the simmer sauce include pureed ginger, tumeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper, cinnamon and clove, which combine perfectly with the tomato. Naturally there’s nothing stopping you from adding some more spices, and I’m in that camp. I had added additional chopped ginger and fresh garlic plus a 1/2 chopped onion which I browned up first in some ghee (butter) before adding this simmer sauce. As they suggest on the label, this works very well to make a stewed dish with boneless chicken, either breast or thigh meat (or even tastier might be chicken on the bone which one would cook 20 minutes more). Add in some frozen veggies (peas, or haricot vert green beans, or edamame) during the last five minutes if you like. Serve the finished dish with basmati rice and some Naan for getting all that delicious sauce. We ate this with TJ’s MANGO GINGER CHUTNEY which matched beautifully. Of course one can make this strictly vegan or vegetarian. Just use either tofu and/or just vegetables (veggies, plus beans for protein like chick peas or lentils….)

TJ”s MASALA SIMMER SAUCE can be the base of a very tasty dish. A 15 oz jar was $2.69.

TJ’s Channa Masala (frozen, Indian)


Trader Joe’s Channa Masala (cooked chick peas with onions, tomato and spices)

Vegetarian

Trader Joe’s of course has quite a number of good frozen and non-frozen Indian foods, many worth exploring. If you haven’t tried this, I would say try it the next time you are doing an “Indian food” night. I find this is one of TJ’s best frozen offerings. This “Channa Masala” (spiced chick peas) is really good; almost equal in taste to many Indian restaurants. Channa means Chick Peas. Masala means mixed spices. This dish is very tasty and well spiced, it can be nuked or cooked on the stove (let it defrost then put in a pan). It’s kind of a steal at $1.99. Serve this with Basmati Rice and some Naan and you have a meal for 2. Especially if you eat with TJ’s excellent Mango Chutney and some yogurt.

PS – no one says you can’t add something to this. I often add something ; like greens: chopped swiss chard or spinach and another pat of butter, cooked for 5 minutes. this variation with added greens is excellent.

$1.99 (10 oz package) (may be higher now due to price increases)

TJ’s TANDOORI NAAN (frozen)


I really enjoy the Naan Indian breads that TJ carries. These frozen Naan breads are tasty and super convenient, only requiring warming up. They are “handmade in India”. A package of 4 Naan is just $1.99, wow! TJ sells two frozen versions, this plain Tandoori Naan and a Garlic Tandoori Naan version which includes garlic and cilantro. I buy a pack of each kind to keep in the freezer. They’re both really convenient and quite good.

Naan breads can be used for so many things. Of course these flat-breads go great with any of TJ’s pretty numerous Indian food offerings but Naan can be used anywhere a flatbread type bread would be good… with saucy foods, soups, etc. Bake these with cheese on top, or some ham or prosciutto, and you have a terrific easy creation. Pizza with sauce? Sure, I’ve done them that way*. Your imagination is the limit on what you can do with these.

To heat them you can throw these into a regular or toaster oven, or sometimes just throw them in a cast iron pan. Hit them with some olive oil or butter or ghee and they become even more tasty and a little crispier. I sometimes add butter and fresh crushed garlic and these are fab. Or just buy the excellent Garlic Naan version if you don’t want to smash your own fresh garlic. The Garlic Naan ones are really flavorful with some green stuff (cilantro or scallions).

So with your next TJ Indian feast, grab some Naan while you’re at it. A package of maybe TJ’s frozen Channa Masala ($2.29 and delicious) or foil pack of Tadka Dal ($1.99) plus some Naan and some tomato and you have a dinner in 3 minutes for a few bucks that is as good some takeout. I even made my own Tadka Dal and ate it with this Naan. Since I had extra dal, I gave some and 2 naan to my upstairs neighbors who thanked me profusely and told me they devoured it in minutes and that it was as good as an Indian restaurant.

TJ also sells some non-frozen Naan breads in the fresh Bread section. These Naan however cost more, they’re bigger and thicker.

  • You can put together pizzas using Naan as your base. These naan are kind of thin so if you want a bit thicker base, get the fresh Naan TJ carries in the fresh breads section. Though they sell a Pizza base there too!

RAVE

TJ’s Amba Mango Sauce


Trader Joe’s Amba Mango sauce is a unique and very tasty condiment.

I had vaguely heard of “Amba” as an Israeli condiment for “Sabich” (eggplant sandwich). Amba Sauce is one of those new tasty food products that TJ sells that you may not know what it is at first, nor what you would use it for, but give this wonderfully unique tasting stuff a try. Savory, pungent, tangy, the sauce is made from fermented ripe as well as green mangos simmered with garlic, salt, turmeric and a few other spices, blended into a smooth sauce. Amba is so unique, intruiging and tasty that once once you try it, you will end up dreaming of things you might try it with, “I wonder if this would be good on..(fill in blank).” Thats what I did. I kept putting it on things to see if they would be good with it. Many were!

So what is “Amba Sauce” anyway? From the package: “Amba is a fermented mango sauce traditionally found in Israel  India and the Middle East. Use it as a savory sauce on meat and seafood, vegetables and falafel, or even as a unique salad dressing”.

“Amba” means mango in an Indian language, Marathi. Its made of yellow ripe mangos as well as unripe green mangos, pureed till smooth and cooked with many spices and chilis and is fermented. The fermentation I’m sure ratchets up the taste level. It is both sweet, sour, and spicy. The heat comes and hits you later. Much later. This stuff is a very complex flavor bomb of fruity and spicy and many spices. Get the idea? Its great for many things. Just a few ideas: Try it over cooked chicken. Falafel, of course! Salmon. Meats. Salads and bowls. On the side with Indian pakoras, or breads, or basmati rice? Absolutely of course! Mixed with Greek Yogurt*? Yes! I came up with the idea of mixing these two things and it was amazing together as the yogurt calmed down the spice level and melded things.

AMBA SAUCE is carried in the refrigerated section and comes in a convenient squeeze pouch with a plastic top. A 14-ounce re-closable, pourable yellow bag of Trader Joe’s Amba Mango Sauce is $3.29. A bag lasted me quite some time as a little goes a long way, and it can last for a month or two in the fridge. This is a fantastic TJ product well worth the price. Amba is hard to find in the U.S.

Here’s a super easy tasty sauce mix with Amba I came up with; it makes a smooth, creamy yummy sauce, toning down the spice level but still getting some and you can adjust the ratio of amba to yogurt.

*GREEK YOGURT & AMBA SAUCE

Mix about 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogurt with about a 1/3-1/2 cup of Amba Sauce. Add chopped garlic mashed with a little salt. Fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine and let it sit in the fridge for a bit. For a GREEN SAUCE version of this which I made, just add chopped parsley or arugula or baby kale, chopped very finely. Let flavors meld in fridge for at least a 1/2 hr or more. Serve on fish, chicken, meats, grilled tofu, or over basmati or jasmine rice, or practically anything! Adjust the ratio of amba and yogurt to your exact liking.

 

TJ FEARLESS FLYER INFO ON AMBA SAUCE (CLICK)

TJ RECIPE: Channa Masala Tomato Soup


This is a reprint of a Recipe combining 3 or 4 things reprinted from TJ’s Fearless Flyer here. I have not tried it yet but it sounds like it would be good, and will make this at some point in the future. Generally I have found some TJ Indian items to be pretty good. Also, I didn’t know about Malabari Paratha but found info on it here, in another Fearless Flyer

Channa Masala Tomato Soup

Overhead view of Channa Masala tomato soup in bowls, garnished with sour cream, and served alongside Malabari Paratha for dipping

A veteran of our line of frozen Indian entrées, Trader Joe’s Channa Masala is moderately spicy, belly-warming, and undeniably comforting—basically everything you’re looking for when it comes to cold weather cuisine. Paired with full-flavored Organic Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup, it’s ready before you can ask “What’s for lunch?” (Well, almost.) Don’t forget to warm up Trader Joe’s Malabari Paratha for dipping!

DIRECTIONS

Add soup to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally.

While soup heats, microwave channa masala according to package directions; stir.

Divide soup among 4 shallow serving bowls. Divide channa masala and gently spoon atop center of soup. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Enjoy!