Trader Joe’s continues to deliver high-quality Indian food with their latest offering – Trader Joe’s Paneer Masala Naan. When it comes to Indian food, TJ’s always seems to get it about right – whether that be their Aloo Chaat Kati Pouches or their Uttapam, so it was a thrill to see a new and delicious Indian bread available to try.
While at first Indian food names seem to be dense and intimidating, as soon as you start picking up some key phrases they are actually pleasantly direct (much easier to parse than, say, direct Chinese translations of food, which tend to more poetically reference clouds, ears, or quasi-mythic generals) Paneer meaning cheese, Masala meaning a blend of spices, and Naan, of course, meaning bread.
Combine those three terms, as they have here, and you’re left with that tasty, chewy, oblong flat bread we all know and love, but somehow stuffed with cheese, diced onion and plenty of savory spices. “A cheese stuffed naan?” you’re no doubt, asking yourself incredulously. Yes, sit down, a cheese stuffed naan – but stuffed classy-like. This isn’t some Taco Bell-style molten “cheez” filled dough snack, it’s a scrumptious, shareable, understated addition to your classy Indian or South East Asian inspired dinner. The cheese, for one, is present only in a reserved quantity – a thin layer that effuses throughout the soft and chewy bread rather than glue it together.
In fact, apart from the appealingly moist texture the cheese lends the naan, you won’t notice it as much as you will the masala spice mix. The onion is the clearest participant, showing up well-cooked and diced so as not to sting the tongue, and it’s complemented nicely by coriander, green chili, ginger, and the other miscellaneous spices that TJ’s doesn’t bother to delineate on the label but which likely include fennel, cardamom, nutmeg, and more in small, measured quantities.
Naan is one of the most delicious forms of bread in existence, when done right, and Trader Joe’s does it right here, perfectly balancing crispiness with moist toothsomeness. You will want to make sure you pop it in your oven for long enough to ensure it is heated through and through – a good 10 – 15 minutes or so. Sure, it would be preferable if you could just microwave it, but good food is seldom microwaved.
Trader Joe’s claims they’re able to deliver on such high-quality Indian food, time after time, because they actually have their food hand-made in India itself. In this case, their naan hails from that Jewel of the West, Gujarat on the west coast of the subcontinent. You should be thrilled to hear because, one, it means you’re getting authentic hand-made Indian food in your local grocery store, but also because, two, it gives us a chance to talk about the Great Rann of Kutch!
We briefly covered the marvelous Thar Desert a while back, and those endless salt flats known as the Rann of Kutch which borders it to the south. This unique ecoregion is home to the graceful, loping nilgai, and is fed by the sinuous Luni River and I haven’t made up even one word in this whole paragraph. All of these things are real things. I would strongly argue that the Great Rann of Kutch has the single best geographic name of any location on Earth, beating out even the Forth of Firth, and Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch. And basically, folks, if that doesn’t get you in the mood to eat some naan, I’m not sure what to tell you.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, this is some good naan.
Would I Buy It Again: Yup, it’s perfect for sopping broth, grippin’ chicken or just eating by itself.
Final Synopsis: Cheese and herb stuffed naan – what’s not to like.