Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trader Joe's Indian Fare--Madras Lentil

This has happened more times than I can count: I spot something in Trader Joe's and think, "I can't tell if I'll like that or not, but I should probably try it." Then I bring it home. Then it sits in my cupboard forever because the little blip of adventurousness that hit me at the store has left, and every time I think about trying it, I second-guess myself and choose instead some safer, better-known entity.

But that story has many different endings. Sometimes my hesitation was justified and it proves to be as awful as my worst fears. Sometimes it's just okay. And once in a while, I end up kicking myself for waiting so long to try it, after discovering a new love.

I'm pleased to say that Madras Lentil joins that last category. I waited so long to try it that it was actually three months past its freshness date by the time I finally opened it. Oh well.

It's not obvious from the packaging, but inside the box is a foil pouch with the whole mess already blended and cooked. You can heat the pouch in boiling water on the stove, or dump the contents into a microwave-safe bowl and zap it. I took the latter, easier route, then spooned it over some of TJ's lovely Brown Jasmine Rice.

I liked it immediately, and liked it more with every bite. It's milder than I had anticipated. In fact, being just a tad on the bland side might be its main fault. That factor makes it a little shy of the excellence needed to become a member of my Top Ten list, but I nevertheless liked it very much.

Tasty, nutritious, super easy to prepare, and cheap. With those qualities, how could it not be a winner?

Will I buy it again? 

Definitely. I think it's going to become a staple that I keep around all the time.

Nina's View

I'm going to try very, very hard not to let my own food prejudices color this comment. 

Given that this dish is something you might find in a (non-xenophobic) prepper's bunker, it's quite good. It's even possible that it's got a decent amount of nutrition in it. I find it quite dull in flavor, especially as it is claiming Indian heritage.

Dal (or dahl, as you prefer) is one of my favorite foods. There are a zillion kinds of lentils, Indian cuisine has a zillion different ways to spice them, and they are pretty much all delicious.  These are not those lentils. As long as you're aware of that, and are looking for a quick, acceptable meal, they'll do.

Lentils are easy to cook—although some varieties take quite awhile or need soaking beforehand. I realize that I need to make some lentils for Bob.


  1. This is one of my faves! Easy, quick, and filling

  2. I was also pleasantly surprised by these! There is a nice balance of spices but just a bit of warmth so those of us who can't take chilis will love this. My favorite way to eat it is either over a baked potato or i use it like a sauce to smother some steamed or roasted veggies for a one bowl meal.
    (This is literally the exact same as the brand Tasty Bites, just half the price)

  3. You have to try the one in the turquoise box too! It's like little cheese cubes, veggies, and a great sauce! It's my fave of these boxed pantry Indian foods at TJ! :)