Monday, August 15, 2011

Boiling Your Food in a Bag is Fun

When I lived in Japan, I survived on boil-in-a-bag food. Curry (mild), cream stew (potato or corn), spaghetti sauce (pasta sold separately), everything I could buy in a skinny box holding a silver packet of goo, I bought, put over rice or spaghetti noodles, or simply shoveled in my mouth with a spoon. The best part of this genre of meals is not the ease of its preparation (boil the silver packet in a pot of water on the stove, then pour out, or simply squeeze out goo, then microwave hot), but that I could buy nearly all of it from the 100 Yen Shop. (Poor college student was I.)

I had thought that when I left Japan, I was also leaving behind my boil-in-a-bag meals. Then I found Trader Joe's and their $1.99 Indian boxed food. Yes, please! 

I admit that the palak paneer looked pretty disgusting when I cut open the silver packet and squeezed it into a microwave-safe bowl. Incredibly disgusting. Luckily, I've had the frozen version and know it's actually a pretty tasty dish, so I went ahead and heated it up anyway. 

The paneer was somewhat lacking in flavor, but even having made it myself, I have to admit it's not the most flavorful cheese I've ever tasted. Also, it was not in the slightest spicy, though that doesn't bother me much considering I don't terribly enjoy spicy food. From what I remember of tastings including the other boxed Indian dishes (of which there are a surprising many), the others are similar in intensity.

So if you want a quick, cheap Indian food fix, the boxed meals may or not be for you. The frozen Indian dinners include rice and taste more authentic, but they also cost more and you seem to get slightly less than from the box. I had some frozen garlic naan already, so that was a good accompaniment to the palak paneer, but if you were, say, at work on your lunch break, the frozen boxed meals are more satisfying.

Man, now I really want some Japanese curry. Or better... kuriimu shichuu!* Where is that Japanese market in Ann Arbor again?

(*cream stew)

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