Wednesday, November 3

Review: Instant Indian

Can't beat a two-minute meal! We keep these Indian meals-in-a-pouch around for nights (or weekend afternoons) when food is needed NOW. Usually I upgrade by adding easy, fresh produce like baby spinach, pre-cooked faux meat (goodbye, beloved seitan-in-a-can, we loved your gluten-y deliciousness), even frozen peas.

Or I'll whip up some homemade gluten-free naan bread using this gluten free bread dough I try to always have on hand. See how to use it for naan, here.

But for this particular meal, I was too tired even for that. So I decided to do a taste test of two different brands-- non-TastyBite, who originated the idea. Beyond Kohinoor's "India on Platter" vegetable pilaf rice, and Trader Joe's "Indian Fare" punjab choley.

Instant Indian boxes front

Wow, these dishes both look great from the photos on the boxes, don't they? Fluffy, separated rice and fresh veggies, and saucy but chunky chickpea curry. Hm, I wonder if the real product will look this good...

Instant Indian boxes back

The most important thing, of course, is that you can see from the ingredients that these are both vegan and gluten free!

Punjab choley

Here's the Punjab choley (chickpea curry) after two minutes in the microwave. The flavor is good-- it's not too salty and just the right amount of spicy heat-- but it's mostly thin liquid. It's so much better if you add other veggies to thicken and soak up the sauce.

Vegetable pilaf

I'll admit it: this rice was scary when it came out of the bag in one giant block. After trying to break it up with a fork, I microwaved it for two minutes and it relaxed into the lovely steaming mound you see here. While not as fluffy or veggie-full as the photo on the box, this rice tasted good. The problem is, it was pretty oily. I'd recommend it with a much drier veggie dish; for something as saucy as the Punjab choley, you're much better off steaming your own rice. Sure, it takes about ten times as long, but 20 minutes really isn't that long to wait, and you can use the time to chop up some broccoli and red pepper to add to the curry.

Final verdict: next time I won't be quite so impatient and I'll take the time to add veggies, but I would definitely buy both of these (to eat separately) again.


  1. The Trader Joe's box looks like a relabeled Tasty Bite, can you tell a difference between the 2?

  2. TJs does that on purpose. It's so annoying. They started making their own rice milk with the same look as Rice Dream, including the fonts! And then they slowly fazed Rice Dream brand out. I really don't like that kind of business practice, so in general I try to avoid those products I know they're more or less pirating.


Photos, original recipes and text © Susan Kelley 2012. All rights reserved. Please credit me and link back to this site, or ask first.

Always read ingredient labels carefully (and re-read periodically) to make sure that products actually are vegan and/or gluten-free.