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Trader Joe’s Channa Masala

Trader Joe's Channa Masala

Once again, we must wonder why this isn’t from Trader Jupti.

As promised we continue Frozen Indian Food week with Trader Joe’s Channa Masala. Sure, the name might not be as hypnotically rhythmic and soothing as Aloo Chaat Kati Pouch, but this spicy, tasty, cheap and tangy chickpea dish has just as much to offer on the flavor front.

As you might guess from the above description, this dry and tangy dish comes from the dry and tangy regions of Northern India. Rajistan in the north west of Indian, and the neighboring regions, are dominated by the great Indian Thar Desert and something of the sere nature of this region has permeated the food that comes from here.

The Thar Desert (bordered to the south by the Great Rann of Kutch) is, of course, famous for having the best desert name of all time, just above Gobi and Mojave. The Thar Desert’s other claims to fame, of course, is as the setting for Rama’s attack on Lanka with his army of vanaras, when he and had to use his agneyashtra-amogha to dry up the drumakulya, leading to the creation of the Marukantara, but that may just be my opinion.

At any rate, masala, as we maybe all probably know, is the general South East Asian term for a mixture of spices, while channa, or chana, is the Hindustani word for chickpeas. That, and exactly that, is what you get in Trader Joe’s Channa Masala – a bunch of garbanzo beaans mixed into a sauce of onions, tomatoes, peppers and some usual Indian spices (namely, cumin, fenugreek, tamarind, mango powder and cilantro).

What that means is, you get a damn good side dish with a bunch of different flavors going on. The garbanzo beans cook up in a couple minutes in the microwave, and come out with just the right texture – a nice toothsome bite that is neither too hard nor too mushy. The sauce starts out with a savory, slightly charbroiled taste that gives way to a nice low burn as you eat. Where things start to get a little weird is around the edges of these flavors, where a noticeble, delicate sourness comes in. This hint of sour is the result of the mango powder and tamarind spices, and turns the whole meal into something more considerable than a simple bean side dish.

Trader Joe’s claims they make their Channa Masala from a traditional Indian recipe, and while that’s the sort of claim I usually write off immediately as marketer-speak, it really seems to be the truth in this case. This is a solid, and simple dish perfect for pairing with a more substantial entree – the Aloo Chaat, for example, would give you a complete, rather good Indian dinner in about 6 microwaveable minutes.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes, these are some tasty beans.

Would I Buy It Again: Yes, this is an excellent solution for my go-go lifestyle.

Final Synopsis: A cheap and easy Indian chickpea dish.

Trader Joe's Channa Masala - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Channa Masala – Nutrition Facts

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4 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Channa Masala”

  1. helesetalks says:

    must unsub. i work there now.

  2. ASaiEn says:

    Channa Masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes. Unfortunately I will have to disagree with you on this review. I found the TJ Channa Masala was overly sweet and severely lacking in spice and robust flavor found with Masala. I will stick to the foil pack Indian versions (Indian MREs as I call them) as they are cheaper and have more spice and flavor.

  3. JenX says:

    I love the Trader Joe’s Channa Masala. I definitely like it more than the foil pack versions and even like it more than the two Indian fast food places in my area. And unlike the channa from the Indian fast food places near me – the TJ’s one doesn’t upset my stomach or give me intestinal distress after.

  4. EJC says:

    I enjoy this dish as well. But I don’t know if I got a batch with extra spice. But I have been paying for my lunch choice yesterday. OMG. I had horrid heartburn last night and this afternoon my stomach has churned and I’ve been running to the bathroom…


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