Thank you, Joe

Trader Joe’s has benefitted the culinary world in many ways. One way is bringing more exotic flavors and dishes into the homes of people who otherwise wouldn’t explore them. Trader Joe’s frozen Indian cuisine section has become very popular with dishes like channa masala, chicken tikka samosas, madras lentils, and lamb vindaloo. Two of its most popular dishes, though, are the frozen palak paneer and butter chicken.

I tried the real deal palak paneer and butter chicken (makhani chicken) at Indian Street Food in Gainesville. The entree combos also come with naan, papad, pickle, and gulab jamun. While these combos are a little pricey, they are absolutely worth it and leave plenty for leftovers.

Butter Chicken

Stella Celentano

The butter chicken was so delicious. It was so much more flavorful than Trader Joe’s or most other butter chickens I’ve ever had. Makhani is a type of curry made from a spiced tomato and butter sauce. I think that some restaurants dumb down the flavor of makhani for people that they assume have little experience with Indian food, however, that was not the case here. Of course, the quality of the chicken was also much better than a frozen meal.

Palak Paneer

Stella Celentano

The palak paneer was also very good but I’d probably be more likely to order the butter chicken again. Palak is a curry made from fresh spinach, onions, spices, and herbs. Paneer is an Indian cheese that’s made from curdling milk in some sort of fruit or vegetable acid, like lemon juice. I tend to prefer when palak has more whole spinach while this was more smooth and creamy like a typical curry. I think I would have liked it better if it was spicier or had something tangy to cut through the buttery flavor. The karahi bowl was full of paneer with the perfect texture though. 

The pickle on the side was the perfect addition to both dishes. I had never tried this kind of pickle before but after doing research it looks like it is traditionally made with unripe green mangos or limes, spices, and oil. It added the tang and vibrance I was looking for and I only could have wished for more of it!

There are so many dishes on the menu at Indian Street Food that I can’t wait to try. As the daughter of parents who lived in London (where Indian food is abundant) for many years, I have been eating Indian food since I was very young. I am excited to share my love of authentic Indian spices, curries, and everything else with my friends who are now less intimidated by those foreign flavors thanks to Trader Joe’s. If you are looking for a cheaper and more convenient place to try Indian food, Krishna Lunch right in Plaza of the America's offers a variety of Indian-inspired dishes every weekday for only $5.