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Indian in a Box

It’s pretty rare that I eat something out of a box these days, especially a frozen dinner. But lately there’s one ethnic dish – straight from the freezer section – that I just can’t get enough of.

Most of my meals fit into one of two categories – foodie meals to write about OR fresh, low-cal basics aimed at limiting the negative impacts of the other category’s indulgences. However, for the last couple years, I can’t kick the craving for frozen individual servings of Chicken Tikka Masala!

Ethnic Gourmet chicken tikka masala

It started one day at the Green Acres Market while I was perusing the frozen food section. In a natural foods store, so many interesting creations lie behind those foggy glass doors and every now and then I venture into the world of the unknown. The red and black box had a tempting photo on the front of large chunks of chicken in a thick creamy orange sauce and beautiful golden rice with green peas.  I recalled having LOVED the tikka masala I used to eat a little Indian cafe in Columbia, Missouri, so I thought I would give it a try. Little did I know this fortuitous purchase would result in a new staple in my “quick but healthy” dinner reportoire.

I found the Ethnic Gourmet brand serves up a pretty nice version of the Indian classic.  Chicken isn’t quite as chunky as the photo, but there’s plenty of it covered with a generously seasoned tomato sauce, just mildly spicy. At just 260 calories, the meal is also low in fat and sugar. I think it’s one of the most flavorful and satisfying dinners you can get in that range!

Recently, I discovered Trader Joe’s also has a Chicken Tikka Masala frozen dinner. Well of course I had to buy it and compare, and…..In typical Trader Joe’s fashion, it was fantastic!! This version has a slightly thicker, creamier sauce and fits into the “medium” spice-range – about as much spice as I can comfortably handle (my little tastebuds get kinda sensitive to that hot stuff…whew!). It seems there was a little less chicken than in the other, but I liked this rice better – basmati with cumin is hard to beat!

Trader Joe's version served with TJ's Garlic Naan

You will find a few more calories in TJ’s version and about twice the fat, but for a 300-calorie meal it really packs a lot of flavor. And at $3.49 per box, it’s a tasty deal.  As you can see, some people can even plate this baby up to look pretty appealing.

Trader Joe’s carries a nice selection of other ethnic favorites, many “stamped” with their Authentic Indian Recipe logo. On my last trip I picked up the Butter Chicken and can’t wait to taste it!

Now, I’m not gonna claim that  frozen Indian food straight from your microwave is high calss eating. But in my opinion it’s a delicious, healthy dinner in a hurry. And since The Hubs never seems to0 excited about going out to eat Indian for dinner, it’s the perfect tasty treat for one.

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