Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sukhi's - Vegan Frozen Meals

"In India," Sukhi says, " meticulous food preparation is an expression of love and respect for all." It is under that mantra that she created her products. I recently received some of the Sukhi's frozen meals and couldn't wait to try them out. Since I mostly cook fresh meals at home, I took them to work on days on which I didn't have time to cook the night before.

The first one I tried was the Channa Masala. On the front of the box it is described as "vegan garbanzo beans in a sweet & sour sauce." Yep, vegan is right on the front of the box. Kudos to them! This meal came with vegan naan bread as well so I heated up the meal and the bread. I really liked the sharp taste that the tamarind brought to this chickpea dish, but felt like it needed something else. The chickpeas were in a delicious, flavorful sauce spiced with ginger, garlic, tamarind, coriander, jalapeno, and other spices, but even though there was bread, I really felt like it needed rice.

The next one I tried was the Vegan Chili Chicken. This one had the word "vegan" right in the title! Again, this meal came with vegan naan bread. This one, even more so than the Channa Masala, really needed rice. It consisted of soy nuggets made of non-GMO soy protein, starch, gluten, vegetable fiber, and vegetable oil along with red and green bell pepper and onions in a tomato-based spicy sauce.  It really is spicy!  The naan bread was perfectly soft and surprisingly delicious - I only say surprisingly because I never know what to expect of frozen bread. 

So, on my second go-round with these meals, I started by preparing brown basmati rice on the stovetop. At the same time, I opened the Samosa & Chutney meal. I placed the samosas on a baking sheet and cooked them in the oven for 25 minutes as per the directions.  When I had about 7 minutes left on the rice and samosas, I prepared the Channa Masala in the microwave. I also thawed the chutney that came with the samosas (no need to heat).  When I plated it, I put rice on half the plate, scooped 1/2 the Channa Masala on top of it, put the chutney in a dipping bowl and put 3 samosas on the other side of the plate. I also prepared the naan bread.  And just like that, I had the perfect meal! All it needed was some balance!  The earthy spices and rich flavor of the sauce were tempered by the brown basmati rice. The samosas were crisp and flaky on the outside and filled with potatoes and peas on the inside. Once paired with the amazing cilantro chutney, they were absolutely perfect.

I did the exact same thing with the Vegan Chili Chicken dish. I plated it with brown basmati rice and served it with the naan bread along with samosas and chutney. The box of samosas contained 10 so there were plenty for many meals. The Chili Chicken dish has this spicy sauce that is a bit watery so the rice definitely helped temper the spiciness while providing a nice hearty base for the meal.

So, one box of each -- Samosas & Chutney, Channa Masala, and Vegan Chili Chicken provided 4 meals by splitting each of the meals in half and pairing them with the samosas. Not too shabby. My only gripe going into this was that there were two servings listed on each box of the Channa Masala and the Vegan Chili Chicken. If they are to be eaten as meals alone, no one is going to eat half a meal. But, if you follow my instructions, then it actually is two meals so it's not so much of a gripe anymore. And the samosas are 10 servings per box! One samosa per serving?! I think not.  The meals are relatively high in fat, but if you split them in half, it isn't so bad.

I ran into the Sukhi's staff at the Natural Products Expo and shared my feedback and they said that they were actually considering adding rice to each meal. They said that in India, these meals stand alone and that Indians don't want rice in their meal, but Americans do. So they may be redoing these meals for this culture. That would be a great change.

All in all, the meals are very tasty and I'm so excited to have another option for frozen meals. I only hope my Whole Foods starts carrying them soon. *hint, hint*

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