Hardly Gourmet, but Certainly Better than Ramen Noodles

The unfunny comedian Dane Cook likes to make jokes about fast food. I’m just not gonna do that here and waste your time. I’d like for people to actually read this thing (by the way, I’m going to learn CSS so this site looks better).

 At one time, I think some people may have mistaken Ramen Noodles as exotic or for that matter, ethnic cuisine. Priced at somewhere around .30 cents a package, the noodles are high in calories, fat and the flavoring that comes with it–that resembles black tar heroin–has enough sodium to keep ice off a patch of sidewalk in the middle of a Minnesota winter. Add to the fact that there are no vegetables in Ramen noodles, and you’re basically eating a brick of salt disolved in some water with some noodles thrown in there.

 

For the price of about 10 packages of Ramen noodles you can do much better for fast food. In February, on a late night grocery shopping trip, I stumbled across a display for fast Indian cuisine and decided to give it a shot. The supermarket I frequent had a display featuring ready-made dinners by Kitchens of India, a brand owned by the Indian hotel chain ITC Limited.

 My experience with Indian foods is limited to dining in restaurants in Albany, NY, Boston and New York City, so I make no claim to know much about the foods. Generally speaking, when in New York, I visit the restaurants on Avenue A between Second and First Avenues to get a dinner special, which almost always includes Mushroom Saag as the entree. I enjoy the service and the price and the sitar music and I leave without learning about the food.

 I have so far had at least three of the items, complemented with tandoori nan, sold by another company.  The three include Pav Bhaji (mashed vegetable curry), Pindi Chana (chick peas in a mild but spicy sauce) and Palak Paneer (spinach with cottage cheese and a thin sauce).

After eating all three at least two times each of the last few weeks, I will report back to you that I am so far pleased with them. Certainly, they don’t beat eating the real thing, made at an Indian restaurant, but they are good enough for someone who feels a little rushed for time and in the mood for something that isn’t pasta.

 One of the complaints many people have about any food from South Asia is that it’s hot. Believe me, none of this stuff is. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about food that burns my tongue off, but if there was one suggestion I’d have for Kitchens of India and the “master chets of ITC Hotels” who the product says developed it, it would be to make it a little more spicy. A little more kick. Perhaps adding kick to it would make it less appealing to those of us in the west who are used to hot foods coming in the form of chili and chicken wings.

Before I sign off on these products so far, I will add a few things. They are not low in sodium. The boxes claim 100% natural ingredients and no preservatives, but the sodium content is 38%, which, in a package containing 2.5 servings, is quite a bit.

Despite a handsome looking box, the inner packaging is a little creepy. I must say that it reminds me of astronaut ice cream or a Capri Sun box. The food is made in factory somewhere in India and sent thousands of miles–presumably on a freighter–to the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K. and Switzerland to name a few places, packaged in a multi-layered metallic pouch, that according to the company, seals it against spoiling. NOTE: Kitchens of India also reminds people, “not to uses the inner pack if leaking or bloated”, presumably to prevent against food poisoning and botulism.

Overall, I’d recommend giving Kitchens of India a shot if you need to eat something quickly.  The meals can be made easily on a stove top range, dumped into a pan or boiling the pouch in water (which I have not done yet) or even microwaving it in a dish.

I’m looking forward to trying their chutneys if I can find a place that sells them.

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