I have always enjoyed trying new foods, and sampling foods from India have mostly been a delightful experience for me (I will reserve my one unpleasant experience until the end of this post). I have eaten authentic food at restaurants that were owned by people from India. One of my past jobs was at a business owned by immigrants from India, and they sometimes shared homemade food based on very old recipes from the Gujarat state. And I have eaten my share of Indian cuisine from the frozen-foods section of my local market.
I can't remember all the things I have sampled over the years, but some of them include: Chicken Tikka Masala, Vindaloo Curry, Palak Paneer, Chicken Biryani, Samosas, and Na'an bread. One of my very favorite things, though, is Chicken Tandoori with Spinach!
A tandoor is a special type of oven that is often used on the Indian subcontinent and in other countries in western Asia and parts of the Middle East. Variant words are found to name the oven: tannūr, tanūra, təndir, tenûr, etc, depending on the language of the region.
Traditional tandoors are made of clay. They can be shallow or deep, depending on the needs of the owner, and can sit above ground or be partially buried to hold heat better. After construction, a very small fire is built inside and slowly increased over time to condition the interior. Nowadays, metal is sometimes used to construct tandoors, especially in the case of commercial ovens for restaurants. When the tandoor is placed into service, a fire is built in the bottom. Skewers of cubed food items can be placed inside the tandoor or laid across the top opening as done in grilling, depending on the particular food being cooked.
Many different types of food can be cooked in a tandoor, from meats and vegetables to Tandoori-baked bread. Besides being indicative of being cooked in a tandoor, the dish known by the name "Tandoori Chicken" (or "Chicken Tandoori") also refers to a particular method of marinating and spicing the meat prior to cooking.
Tandoori chicken is a roasted chicken delicacy that originated in Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The chicken is marinated in yogurt seasoned with garam masala, garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, and other spices depending on the recipe. In hot versions of the dish, cayenne, red chili powder, or other spices give the typical red color [source]
One of my favorite brands of Indian foods from the frozen-foods section of my market has been Tandoor Chef®. Sometime back, however, their pretty and distinctive orange boxes disappeared completely from the shelves. 😱 Upon closer examination, I realized my usual brand had been replaced by a new brand Deep Indian Kitchen®, with the word "deep" styled as: DЄЭP.
As it turns out, it is the same company and the same food, but with a rebranding. Along with the rebranding came a few changes; for example, my favorite dish had a generous portion of spinach and no rice, but now comes with a slightly smaller portion of spinach and a portion of rice included, too. I like rice, always have, but was slightly happier with more spinach. It's not a drastic enough change to make me stop buying it, though, if it continues to be available.
I recently saw the Chicken Tandoori with Spinach deeply discounted (pun intended! LOL) at the store, though, and bought the last five boxes remaining in the freezer case. I certainly hope that doesn't mean that meal will be discontinued from the company's product lineup or the selection that my market will choose to carry... 😟
On the back of the box with the DЄЭP® branding, the following is printed:
To our family, the name "Deep" is, well, deep. In India it means "lamp" and "enlightenment," and our mission is to share the best of India's culture with everyone. That's why we care so much about our food and every purchase benefits our Deepkiran ("Ray of Light") Foundation, which helps children in rural India access education. Children we support each year: 22,000+
Corporations that assist others with their revenue are always appreciated, and I think it is wonderful that some of their profits are used for good in rural areas to help disadvantaged children! 💚
Another brand I enjoy sometimes is SAFFRON ROAD®, which also has a variety of frozen, ready-to-cook meals. My favorite products from their brand are: Chicken Biryani, the Mexican-inspired Chicken Enchiladas Poblano, and their awesome Chicken Pad Thai. 😋 Sure, all of these dishes pale in comparison to their fresh-cooked counterparts in restaurants or home-chefs with experience in the cuisine of those cultures, but they are fine for a widow living alone, with no one else for whom to cook.
Whenever I eat Chicken Pad Thai, I often remember Patti, a coworker at one of my past jobs. She and I had a "girls' night out" each month where we went out to eat or just chilled with margaritas on her porch and talked. We ate at different restaurants, but we often visited this one Thai restaurant that had good food and good service, and I often ordered Pad Thai there.
At the beginning of this post, I said I'd had an unsatisfactory experience with an Indian dish. Many years ago, I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on business and decided to eat at an Indian restaurant one evening. It wasn't a restaurant that had been recommended, but one I stumbled upon while looking around Cambridge after the workday ended. I've always loved shrimp, so I chose a dish called Shrimp Korma. It was served in a bowl as a soupy, green liquid — very similar to a pesto. Imagine throwing some nondescript, green leaves into a blender with a bit of water, a couple spices, blending it until smooth, then tossing in a few shrimp. That was pretty much how it looked and tasted. I ate about half of it, I think, then paid the bill and left, very disappointed. I couldn't help but notice that I was the only person in the place, except for the staff, which should have been a red flag, but I was innocent and not so worldly-wise back in those days. Live & learn, and never order Shrimp Korma again! 😝
To the above story, I will also add that my tastes in food are so wide-ranging that it takes something really bad for me to not enjoy it on some level. I do not like beef liver, yuk. I only like grapefruit if it is a Ruby Red, and then only rarely. I prefer my celery cooked in soups and stews rather than raw. Other than that, though, I will eat most things. I have yet to find a vegetable, bread, seafood, or meat I do not like. I even like Smoked Eel in sushi, and alligator is quite tasty! I have yet to find a world cuisine that I don't like, and I will happily go with you to any type of restaurant — German, French, Italian, Thai, Chinese, authentic Mexican, Tex-Mex, Japanese, American, Indian, etc. So, yeah, that gives you a little background as to how bad that dish must have been. 😜
There once was dish of Shrimp Korma
Perhaps made by a lady named Norma
It looked like a pesto
But lacked much zesto
I should have ordered the shwarma
1 Wikipedia: Tandoor
~ page diver by me, based on a design from a quilt made by my grandmother ~