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Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Just Tell Me What to Eat!

Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Tandoor Chef Meals

Vegetable Pad Thai and Paneer Tikka Masala



OK, I know should be skeptical. After all, frozen meals are at their very nature suspect. Giving the folks who make them the benefit of the doubt, this has to be a difficult task. They have to create a good meal to begin with, recreate it to make sure that the ingredients are cooked properly for freezing and re-cooking, package the whole thing up, freeze it, ship it across the country, have it sit in a grocery freezer for goodness knows how long and then trust that it will be reheated properly. To expect all of that to be successful is a lot to ask, but even more so when rice noodles are involved.

I love Pad Thai. I have had some really great versions and some really terrible ones in restaurants. It's easy to make this dish badly and very difficult to make it good. So much has to come together. Good sauce, veggies just right, tofu cooked well and the rice noodles not overdone. Most end up a big greasy pile of noodles and overcooked veggies on a plate.

Vegetable Pad ThaiThis is pretty much the case with Tandoor Chef Vegetable Pad Thai. Why I should expect any more, I don't know. It's hard enough to make all the steps from manufacture to table work well, and it's seldom that even the local restaurant gets Pad Thai right. This one has good flavor and aroma so it seemed promising. The problem is that after the freezing all of the different textures are just too much to handle. The fried tofu is like chewing on an old sponge; full of water and no taste. The veggies are all in different states of under and overcooked and the rice noodles are actually chewy.

There's no need to even tell you the nutrition information because you do not want to purchase this.

Paneer Tikka MasalaTheir Paneer Tikka Masala is just the opposite. Mind you, this one's easy. Indian cheese in a masala sauce. That's it. Pretty easy to cook, freeze, transport and reheat. The problem is that's all there is. Cheese and sauce. No rice, no lentils, no veggies. No, really. Just cheese and sauce. Both are delicious and at only 200 calories with 540 mg of sodium a pretty good choice - if it were a complete meal. The problem is that it's not. You have to cook other things to go with it.

I can just imagine the folks at Deep Foods debating this and the "No, no, it's OK, they'll make their own rice and veggies" faction winning the argument. Sad, really, because with some lentils or rice and some peas this would be a pretty good frozen meal. Unless you want to do more work (and spend $4.99), best to leave this one in the freezer too.

Reviewed: May 29, 2009