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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

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Two From Saffron Road

I have seen the Saffron Road Halal Cuisine brand frozen meals a few times at Whole Foods. This is one of those products that we haven't tested because it's not widely available, but their new packaging caught my eye, and after looking at the ingredients and the nutrition info, I have to say that I was intrigued. The package says that the animal products are certified humane, halal, no antibiotic, all natural and gluten free.

Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil ChickenWe started with the Lemongrass Basil Chicken. The packaging is a bit strange in that the rice is in the smaller of a two compartment plastic tray. This makes sense after heating as the sauce is not very thick. The aroma is great coming out of the microwave, almost like you stepped into an exotic Far Eastern restaurant. After heating it's best to transfer the rice, chicken and sauce to a bowl for eating.

The flavors are really rich and quite good for a frozen meal. The ginger, basil, lemongrass and lemon come through with the sauce being only slightly spicy but still exotic tasting. The chicken is moist and not grainy, with a good fresh chicken flavor. The onions and peppers are cooked well and not overdone. In a blind taste test you might think that this came from the corner Indian restaurant.

The numbers are darn good at 370 calories and 330 mg sodium (see, Amy's: you can make flavorful food without so much salt). There's only 3 grams of fiber, however.

Saffron Road Lamb KoftisThe Lamb Koftis smells equally great coming out of the microwave. There's an exotic cinnamon and spice aroma, but the flavor doesn't quite measure up. There are good Eastern tastes but not great. It's not bland, but it's not full of flavor either - almost as if someone added only 2/3 of the seasonings called for in the recipe. The meatballs have a fresh lamb taste, but they are too tender with a slightly mushy texture. This is an OK meal but not the full measure of the Lemongrass Basil Chicken.

This dish has slightly fewer calories (340) with more sodium at 450 mg per serving. There's 4 grams of fiber. Note that both these meals are served with white jasmine rice. In the case of the chicken dish, the rice was overdone and with the lamb it was slightly underdone. The dishes would have benefitted in flavor, texture and fiber from brown jasmine rice and made the meals much better.

We'll be going back to the store for more from this company. You can find where they might sell their products near you at the Store Locator on their website.