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 Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers


RAVE

Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers have the delectable flavor of Mexican Street Corn in a crispy snack….chipotle, habanero kick, smoky, spicy, heat…. Melt cheese over them for a punchy nacho, crumble atop scrambled eggs… Guacamole….” (from the package)

Terrific product. These may be the best chips Trader Joe’s sells. Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers are a spiced version of the also excellent regular plain Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers. For this “Elote” version of the chips they add a lot of spices to them. for a spicy delicious version that recalls Mexican Street Corn (Elote) and these are so good, that in fact these may be the best chips that Trader Joe’s sells.

These are really flavorful and honestly they are pretty spicy* just eaten on their own. If you don’t eat these with something (say guacamole, dip, cheese….) trust me your mouth will probably be a little bit on fire from the chipotle and habanero pepper seasonings but not crazy on fire, a quite tolerable fire unless you’re really spicy-adverse. Naturally just like the plain versions, the shape of these thicker “dipper” shaped corn chips make them perfect to stand up to any dip of any kind without falling apart.

These match especially well eaten with other things, especially guacamole of course or even just salsa. I even sometimes enjoy eating these Elote Chips with something plain and boring like for example cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, which balances the spices out. You can even crumble these up and put them on things (they suggest atop scramble eggs, that should be great) If you just put grated cheese all over these for nachos you wouldn’t need any other spices, so I think these could make super easy nachos And naturally some beers will go great with these chips, to put out the fire in your mouth.

The Elote spice dippers costs a little more than the plain version of TJ’s Organic Corn Dippers (I think gone up to $2.99 now?)

UPDATE: * These don’t seem to be quite as spicy as they were before. I can’t tell if they’ve changed the recipe or maybe just the lot I got… (if anyone has ideas on this, please leave a comment) I have had a lot of experiences with some Trader Joe’s products I first tried getting “toned down” over time.

Trader Joe’s ground fermented BLACK GARLIC


“Use like garlic. Delicious on avocado toast, in butter and sauces, on vegetables and proteins, or any time you want extra depth of flavor”

This is a pretty interesting Trader Joe’s product, a bit of an unusual find. Now a few years ago, they sold something in the produce section labeled “Black Garlic”. It was from Japan. It basically looked like a whole head of garlic you had forgotten about in the pantry that had shriveled up. I tried it. Inside was soft black garlic, very weird. But the cloves of black garlic were absolutely delicious, chock full of UMAMI. I found it to be a pretty amazing and unusual product for Trader Joe’s to carry. This eventually vanished, or was discontinued? I stopped seeing it. Now a year or two later, I notice this small jar in the spices section of “Ground Fermented Black Garlic…Made In South Africa”. The black garlic has been dried and ground up into little tiny black bits that can be sprinkled onto things. It tastes garlicky but different from fresh garlic or garlic powder for one thing this was fermented. It’s full of Umami, adding extra depth of flavor to whatever you put it on. I did think it’s a little on the pricey side at $2.99 for a tiny 1 oz jar but I have found it does last a bit. It’s terrific added to sauces and as they mention vegetables. I am trying this on so many things. Avocado anything especially. I am thinking this is a hidden gem that many will look at and bypass and it may vanish in the future. So as we don’t know how long this product will last, if this sounds interesting, grab one to try.

WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC

https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-garlic-4165384

A little search and you find that it’s super healthy to boot! https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-garlic#1

https://www.mashed.com/325207/trader-joes-fans-are-so-excited-about-this-new-fermented-black-garlic/

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 PUMPKIN BRIOCHE TWIST BREAD


(*super for French Toast)

(fall seasonal item) I am not one of those people who goes crazy every Fall for Trader Joe’s seasonal “everything goes pumpkin” thing which frankly I find can be a bit much. Seriously… Pumpkin Dog Treats?! Pumpkin Hummus?! Come on now, that sounds like a crime against nature. However, that doesn’t mean Trader Joe’s doesn’t have a few pumpkin related items which are actually quite good and worth checking out. Here’s one of them: the Pumpkin Brioche Twist bread. It’s really good!

Now I’m absolutely in love with TJ’s FRENCH BRIOCHE. So when I just saw this new seasonal variation, PUMPKIN BRIOCHE TWIST, I had to get one of these to try. Not only does it look really good, it is in fact excellent. It isn’t heavy in the pumpkin spices department, there is just a subtle hint of spice going on and if I didn’t see pumpkin listed in the ingredients I may have not even known there was any pumpkin in it. So personally for this very reason, that they have done the pumpkin thing as subtle, I find this quite good.

This brioche is terrific toasted, either spread with butter or cream cheese and possibly some jam. I haven’t tried it yet to make French Toast but I am sure that this would make fantastic French Toast*, so I would give that a try that for sure. You might try this broche toasted up gently and spread with grass fed butter, a sprinkle of brown or coconut sugar and a light dusting of TJ’s Pumpkin Spice (or cinnamon) it you want something yummy around Halloween time. If you are into the whole TJ pumpkin season thing I think their Pumpkin Butter (pumpkin spread?) would be good on this.

The PUMPKIN BRIOCHE TWIST is $3.99 (same as regular sliced Brioche)

* UPDATE – I finally made French Toast with this pumpkin brioche twist today. It was SO GOOD. Wow, this bread is super as French Toast! A Must Try.

French Toast with this is AMAZING

Toasted with butter and jam

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 Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend


RAVE

Is Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel Seasoning” blend the bomb that everyone on the internet says it is? Well, yes. It’s terrific. It’s a classic blend of seasonings which obviously, bagel makers originally threw together perhaps a hundred years ago. TJ’s has an excellent version which is a blend of: white sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, poppy seeds, dried minced garlic and onion plus black sesame seeds. Now if by any chance you happen to be a “New Yawker” and grew up your whole life intimately acquainted with “Everything Bagels” then you already know how good this seasoning tastes. As a kid the Everything Bagels were frequently the ones our family usually fought over in a batch of fresh H&H assorted bagels my dad used to send us out for.

When Trader Joe’s introduced this seasoning blend it was such a major hit, sometimes it even got sold out. It just flew out of the store. Its so successful that TJ’s have now even started putting the seasoning on other products, such as smoked salmon (a great combo) and I even saw it in a new popcorn variety! In my opinion it’s especially the dried garlic toasty bits that make this so good. I really enjoy sprinkling EBTB on top of a TJ Artisan everything bagel topped with cream cheese and tomato (or sliced cucumbers or smoked salmon) plus more “everything” on top of the whole thing to Super Size the everything seasonings! This Everything seasoning is great on so many things: Scrambled eggs, avocados, avocado toast, grilled or smoked salmon, tuna fish sands, mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, hamburgers, grilled chicken, cottage cheese (yes!), salads, steaks…. you name it, it will probably be good on it. So if you’ve been wondering if this actually worth the hype, the answer is Yes. Great stuff!

$1.99 jar (2.3 oz.)

https://www.eatingwell.com/article/291465/50-ideas-for-using-trader-joes-everything-but-the-bagel-seasoning/

https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/everything-you-can-do-with-everything-bagel-seasoning-article

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC KETCHUP


RAVE

Great tasting ketchup

My wife thinks anything “organic” tastes better, while I think some things marked “organic” do, but some things don’t taste any better. This is one of those cases where yes ORGANIC is in fact better. Or should I just say that TJ’s Organic Ketchup is a great tasting ketchup, period, and possibly “the best” I’ve had. Now like most Americans Ketchup has always meant “Heinz” as I’ve been eating Heinz ketchup since well, forever, and it was probably the first ketchup I ever had in my life. When my wife brought home the Trader Joe’s organic ketchup and I tasted it (with doubts) my tastebuds did somehow react with something like, “wow, now this is ketchup”! I was pleasantly surprised and I had to admit to my wife yes this organic version was better tasting. She gave me a “I told you so” looks. Now I know Heinz switched from using sugar in their ketchup recipe to using high fructose corn syrup in their (regular) ketchup years ago, like most companies, as sugar is more expensive than corn syrup. Heinz has now come out with another version, a more expensive Heinz ketchup they call “Simply Heinz” (hah!) which does use sugar not corn syrup and the ingredients look more or less similar to Trader Joe’s. However for one thing all of Trader Joe’s ingredients say Organic. Interestingly also is the fact that TJ’s ketchup spells out the actual spices in their ingredients while Heinz just lists the generic word “spice” (why singular, not “spices”?!) TJ’s ketchups says organic spices than spells out: allspice, clove, red pepper, paprika and salt. Frankly I had no idea what specific spices were in ketchup, so maybe it’s the spices at least in part that makes TJ’s ketchup taste so good. In short, in our house we have switched brands to now buying only TJ’s ketchup. Sorry Heinz. This is better. And probably cheaper than Simply Heinz. TJ’s ketchup is $1.99 (24 oz) and for “certified organic” that’s not bad.

So if you’ve never tried TJ’s Organic Ketchup it is well worth giving a try. You just might switch brands too.

TIP: Want some Spicy Ketchup? I just mix this with as much or as little Sriracha as your taste buds are in the mood for. So good! Especially with burgers….

TJ’s AJIKA Georgian Spice Blend


“Spicy, garlicky & deeply aromatic & savory”

RAVE

Trader Joe’s AJIKA GEORGIAN SEASONING BLEND

Wow is this good! Its my new favorite spice!

Another delicious find I recently discovered in my TJ’s NEW PRODUCTS display. Frankly I had never heard of Ajika before seeing this at TJ. Googling it you learn Ajika is actually not a dry spice blend but more of a dip so one can assume this TJ spice seasoning blend is a dry seasoning blend which is based on the typical Georgian-Abkhaz (formerly USSR) condiment.

Anyway this TJ seasoning is pretty AMAZING! This is a terrific addition to all of their “international spice blends” TJ seems very good at figuring out. The Ajika Georgian Seasoning Blend contains crushed ground red chile pepper (not a super hot one) with ground coriander, fenugreek, dried garlic, marigold (marigold?! yes the flower dried and ground up!) and a little salt. Garlicky, (mildly) spicy it is more flavorful spicy than hot spicy. The coriander and fenugreek are stand out delicious flavorings that are not typical for our (American) palates. Honestly the combination of all of these spices together is just fantastic. Seriously delicious, I couldn’t stop sprinkling it on so many foods, to see what it would do to them. It tastes quite unique to my taste buds. Is it the Fenugreek? Is it the marigold (which by the way I learn is very typical of Georgian Abkhaz cuisine).

It’s a combination of all of these things. I had made some sautéed yellow peppers and zucchini cooked in olive oil so then I put a good amount of this Ajika spice blend into it. It added wonderful flavor to the grilled veggies. I also sprinkled Ajika on top of a bagel with tomato and cream cheese and again it added great flavors. I tried in on cottage cheese, so boring right? Not with a good amount of Ajika, boring no more they went perfectly together.

Its so good you begin to wonder, what is this NOT good on? I put it on grilled boneless chicken breasts, and yes its an excellent seasoning for chicken…. or pork or steak or fish. Try this Ajika blend sprinkled on eggs or in an omelet. Try also on : Fish, shrimp, turkey, chicken, steak, hamburger, or grilled tofu for that matter. A turkey burger with this is so much more flavorful and tasty. I think it would be good with SO many things. Grilled vegetables and EVOO plus this are great. This was made for tomatoes which the original has. Mix some of this up with greek yogurt for a lovely easy sauce. Go nuts with this. I know I am. The internet apparently is going crazy for this. I was Wowed upon first tasting this. Yes its so good as people are saying. On a 1-10 level of heat I would put this at maybe 4, So barely spicy, very tolerable, especially mixed with foods.

If you see Ajika grab a jar to try. It may be seasonal or TJ simply testing the waters for interest. If you try this you may love it as much as I am loving it (along with the whole internet) and if you come up with some interesting ideas and/or uses for it, or some recipes, please post it in the Comments section. Oh BTW the word “Ajika” may come from the Abkhaz word for salt.

Aha Wikipedia states: “A dry form of ajika exists that is sometimes called svanuri marili in Georgian”

$1.99 a jar. Wow.

https://www.mashed.com/384027/trader-joes-fans-are-psyched-for-its-new-ajika-georgian-seasoning/

TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPERCORNS in spice grinder


This may seem ho-hum because we are so used to seeing it by now but come on, let’s admit the spices TJ sells in built-in grinders are one of the greatest product innovations in history. I’m serious. Since all spices taste best freshly ground, it’s a huge plus that you can buy not just whole peppercorns but a number of spices & spice blends in these plastic grinders at TJs. I particularly am fond of TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPERCORNS. It’s especially nice as it’s a blend of 3 peppercorns from 3 different continents! They come from Brazil, India and Malaysia. Packed in South Africa. Wow. Peppercorns have gone up in price and I think this used to sell for $1.99, it’s now $2.29. Its the same price as a tin TJ sells of ground pepper so I would say this is better. I buy pepper grinders in pairs, one for the kitchen and one for the table.

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