Look for the bright orange-red boxes in your grocer’s freezer case. Photo courtesy Tandoor Chef.
Our neighborhood has two good Indian restaurants and there are many more around town; but we were more than satisfied with the frozen foods from Tandoor Chef.
The family-run company produces authentic, restaurant quality, all natural frozen Indian cuisine. All the traditional favorites are available, as well as modern creations like naan pizza and vegetarian masala burgers.
The choices include meat plus vegetarian and certified vegan options, along with a line that is gluten free.
If you haven’t been exposed to Indian food (or good Indian food), here’s a chance to get to know it, in a most convenient way.
Depending on what your retailer carries, you can feast on:
Entrées: 16 choices including Channa Masala, Chicken Biryani, Chicken Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, Masala Dosa, Malai Kofta and Palak Paneer
Breads: Garlic Naan and Tandoori Naan
Pizzas: Cilantro Pesto Naan Pizza, Eggplant Naan Pizza, Jalapeño Naan Pizza, Margherita Naan Pizza and Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pizza
We didn’t get to try the pizzas, but everything we did try was impeccably spiced for American palates. We’ll certainly keep a supply in our freezer, for when we crave crunchy samosas or palak paneer, one of our favorite spinach dishes.
While not all Tandoor Chef products are cooked tandoori-style, here’s an overview of this famous Indian cooking technique.
A tandoor is a cylindrical clay or metal oven (it can be as simple as a large pot) used in cooking and baking—not only in India but elsewhere in central, southern and western Asia. It is typically dug into the ground or built into an enclosure to keep anyone from coming into contact with the extremely hot surface.
The tandoor ia used to cook meats or vegetables (and sometimes breads) over an intense charcoal fire, which is built inside the oven. The meats or vegetables are marinated and lowered into the oven on long metal skewers. Cooking in a smoky and extremely hot environment (often 500°F), they take on a special flavor.
Tandoori-style foods are first marinated in yogurt, a medium with natural acidity (required in a marinade) and a thickness that helps to adhere the herbs and spices to the food.
Channa Masala, a delicious chickpea dish. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.
Traditional spices include cayenne pepper, coriander, garam masala, garlic and ginger. Garam masala itself is a combination of roasted and ground black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and nutmeg
If you’ve ever had tandoori chicken and wondered why it is bright red or yellow, the answer is spice. The red color is provided by ground annatto seeds; the yellow comes from saffron (pricey!) or turmeric.