I’ve been slowly working my way through the Trader Joe’s gluten free offerings. I know that I should review the bad with the good, but some of the Trader Joe’s pre-packaged indian food is pretty hard to get excited about. Having eaten Indian food in San Francisco and Berkeley, I’m a total Indian food snob. Luckily, I’ve got a couple gluten-free items that I’ve found recently that I think are worth sharing. The first is their Channa Masala. It’s Indian food, so it’s got a lot of spices. My main theory about Indian food tends to be that the worse it looks, the better it’s going to taste. My other theory about Indian food is that these people have been vegetarian for so long, they really know how to do it right.
The ingredients: Onions, Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid), Chickpeas, Water, Canola Oil, Spices, Ghee (Clarified Butter [Milk]), Garlic, Salt, Cilantro, Mango Powder, Turmeric, Bay Leaves.
The box includes instructions on how to heat up and also the usual disclaimer about how the food is manufactured on shared equipment. One thing that’s nice about the disclaimer on this box is that they say “Our vendors follow good manufacturing practices to segregate ingredients to avoid cross contact with allergens.” I don’t know anybody else feels about it, but this eases my mind a little. I don’t have to picture equipment encrusted with flour and malt. The box has two servings. Each is 180 calories and 450 mg of salt.
The picture on the box shows it in a bowl, like it’s soup or something, but here’s how you’re really going to want to eat your gluten-free Channa Masala: Over some jasmine rice and something on the side to take the heat off. Good examples of items that will take the heat off are: yogurt, golden raisins, dried cranberries, or a good chutney. I like a good mango chutney. At Indian Oven on Fillmore in San Francisco, they had a chutney that was the hottest thing on the table, but most chutneys are sweet and flavorful. When you’re eating Channa Masala with yogurt or a chutney, you grab a bite of one or the other, or both at the same time, but you generally keep them separate. With the raisins or dried cranberries, you should mix them in. If you like cilantro, you can tear a little up with your fingers and mix that in too.
I really liked this Chana Masala. It’s got a lot of flavor, but doesn’t feel the need to make your mouth burn. It’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and makes for something that’s easy to pack for work lunches.
We want to know: Do you have a favorite Indian restaurant in Portland? We still haven’t found one! Have you tried other Trader Joe’s Indian dishes? Do you get upset (like we do) that most of the Trader Joe’s asian cooking sauces aren’t gluten-free? Let us know in the comments!
Times we have visited: 2 (So your mileage may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same