Trader Gross

It's been a wild week at work, so I haven't had time yet to take my new Kitchen Aid mixer out for a spin. Its sitting there on my kitchen counter, quietly, shining away.

In the mean time, with no time for real cooking, I've been raiding my stockpile from our new Trader Joe's, here in New York City.

On Tuesday night, I got home late. Walking up to my apartment, I smelled Indian food. I think someone had just had Chicken Masala delivered and I was jealous. I was too hungry to wait for delivery and then I remembered: I had Trader Joe's Palak Paneer in the freezer. I tore open the package and it got scary right away. The palak paneer was inside a long thin metal envelope, like astronaut food. I couldn't tear into it with my hands and it was even some tough going for my kitchen scissors.

Once I it out of the package, I knew I wouldn't be happy with this dinner. It was a disgusting brackish green color with little chunks of cheese sticking out. The long thin ice cube of curry was a weird shape too: too wide for any bowl I had handy and I thought if I microwaved it on a plate it could drip all over the inside of the microwave. Also, there wasn't any rice! I've learned that you need to pay careful attention to the frozen "meals" sold at Trader Joe's. Some come with rice or other sides and other's don't. Maybe selling curry without rice is part of what helps them keep the prices down.

I went ahead with microwaving it on a plate. I followed the directions on the packaging. It was still frozen solid, which is odd for my microwave since it's super strong. I keep microwaving away until the flat spinach iceberg gave up and melted.

It looked terrible and tasted worse. I've grown to appreciate super hot currys. R* grew up eating them at home in the UK and he's sweetly coached me on how to enjoy the spicy stuff. This palak paneer is not that. From the one tiny taste I could swallow it was just burning pepper hot with no nuance and no creaminess from the cheese. Just one look at it and R* said he didn't want to taste. Maybe some rice could have tamed it a bit, but I wasn't going to bother. I flushed it.

Next up: Since I bashed TJ's here, come back soon and I'll post on how much I love their brownie mix (see photo).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blarhhhhhh - green curry. It must have looked like snot. No wonder it went down the loo (vinder-"loo").

Tee Hee....

3:14 PM  
Blogger redshoz999 said...

You have a responsibility to your loyal readers to present a fair and balanced story. Should you not also mention the purple box palak paneer that does come with rice and does not look like snot?

12:22 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Guys, it looked worse than snot, I'll leave it at that.

Red, yes there is a boil and eat palak paneer that I love, but it isn't Trader Joe's brand. Do you remember what the brand name of that one is?

I've only been a able to find it at the Park Slope Food CoOp and Wegmans. Since Wegmans is far away and I can't keep up with the food co-op work requirement, I'm curry-less.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Aaron O said...

you are doing it all wrong. First off their palak paneer doesn't need to be frozen. It's shelf stable, it's basically the same as 'tasty bite' meals. Grab one of the TJ's meals, and grab a bag of premade brown rice (typically in the same isle).
I'll agree it looks like baby poop, but then again, name palak that doesn't?
This tasted just as good as any I've had at the restaurants I've been to, so I'm not sure what was so unappealing about it.
As a matter of fact, I'm eating some right now.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Aaron, thank for your comment. I think TJ's has (at least) two kinds of palak paneer. The one I tried came from the frozen section of TJs and did need to be frozen. They also have a shelf-stable kind. I have that in my cabinet waiting for us to try it, but I have to say after that last digusting currry from Trader Joe's, I'm not too anxious to tear into it.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I've had the (shelf-stable) palak paneer many times before and I actually like it. I'm not Indian, but as far as I can tell, it's pretty much what you would get at your local Indian store. For the price and preparation time it takes, it's worth what it is.

Actually, I was just wondering if you like palak paneer... many of my friends who had never had indian food before find it not so appealing...

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the box you display in the picture is for their shelf stable version. i have never seen their frozen kind.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The palak paneer shouldn't be refrigerated or frozen - it's vacuum sealed (which gives it a great shelf-life) and you just need to heat it up.

Also, there's no preservatives or artificial coloring, which is why it has this kind of color. I would rather have a natural dish with a strange color than a flourescent green spinach dish!

1:14 PM  
Anonymous amanda james said...

lol that was funny. trader joes frozen food is grossing me out lately. i cook it and then can barely eat a few bites. it tastes so plasticy and artificial. i do like their cookies, and more dry foods.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Karin said...

You're not really being fair. You say that a meal should come with rice, but you didn't buy rice, you bought a side dish of palak paneer. Secondly, assuming you used the palak paneer in the picture (and why else would you use that picture?), that is not supposed to be frozen. You refer to the silver packaging that comes with the shelf-stable stuff. You are supposed to put that in a pot of boiling water, not the microwave.

1:16 AM  
Blogger JaneR said...

I just did this 45 minute workout and was starving. My trader's Joe Palak Paneer was in a microwaveable dish - no rice like yours. It was awful :( I had made a package of knorrs rice to serve with it, and just ditched the entire thing and ate yogurt and pineapple from a can. Much better.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, as others have said the kind you were talking about isn't the frozen kind. Their frozen palak Paneer is so delicious that they are out of stock right now. boooo!

10:52 AM  
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3:32 AM  

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