Let’s get started with this, Trader Joes Paneer Tikka Mastala. Let’s take a closer look. There are four main food groups I like: cheese, rice and sauce. This is a great start. There’s no meat…no eggs…hey, even gluten-free (like some). Other fine TJ treats) … but it does have cheese. Also, this cheese is lacto vegetarian. Yes, it is, but only because paneer, the cheese, isn’t made with rennet. Rennet is an animal-byproduct enzyme which does some thing to almost every other cheese in existence. Evidently, lacto-vegetarians can’t abide by that. Also, no gelatin gets the green light… come on, Jello! This diet is difficult with no eggs.
It would be so much easier if everything was this delicious.
Contrary to what you see on the box, the tikka masala comes in a plastic tray that has the rice, the cheese and chunks. There is also some plastic film on the top. You can poke a few holes in the plastic film to allow for heat up. The sweet-‘n spice aroma of the tikka masala will draw attention to your white bread colleagues, as mine do every morning, while I make my coffee. It smelled delicious and intoxicating. I was immediately compelled to use it. The paneer was the first thing I tackled. The paneer is served in small cubey pieces, dipped in reddish-orange cream tomato sauce. I grabbed a few and immediately felt happy. The cheese bits tasted okay but not great. It was kind of like a combination of soft, mild mozzarella and tofu. The sauce was… well, it’s magnificent. It was sweet and creamy (enough for me to suspect coconut milk), but light and with a nice kick. I find the turmeric to be the most distinctive ingredient. It was not quite the same as Thai curries, but it reminded me. It tastes delicious and warm. I could feel my tastebuds dancing when I put it on top of tasty spoonful after spoonful. It was really delicious. I wish TJ’s or someone else would bottle it. Although the spinach rice was good, it wasn’t all that memorable. Except for when the sauce mixed its way over.
This is a great recipe. Sandy, who makes a beeline for it when she looks at the freezer section, seems to like it too. Its overall goodness is evident when you consider that the first two ingredients are tomatoes, onions and garlic (two of her least favourite foods). Sandy stated that she cannot eat the entire sauce from the tray every single time she has it for lunch. When no one was watching, I scraped every last bit of sauce with my spoon. I then wiped more with my finger. It was delicious. I’m not sure how it compares to the. chicken variationI was very pleased with the dish.
The only thing that I would say is that although the paneer may not be spectacular, it is good enough that it makes me wish for more. My lunch consisted of about a dozen small pieces. Sandy agreed with Sandy and stated that she would be lucky to have as many. Due to the lack of cheesy bits, I would say it might not be. Very slightlyOverpriced at $2.99, but you can spend much more and still get a great lunch for your employees.
We are both pretty sure that this is a great lunchtime option, especially if your favorite Indian cuisine is included. The sauce …. is delicious. It is so delicious that we gave it a solid four-star rating and made it a regular part of our lunch menu.
Bottom line: 8 out 10 Golden Spoons
p.s. contestPlease don’t allow Nathan to win!