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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Saffron Road

Sweet & Sour Chicken and Butter Chicken

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Sweet & Sour Chicken from Saffron Road

Since we first discovered Saffron Road back in 2011, we've reviewed over 40 of their products. The vast majority were frozen meals, but we've seen a few snacks (their crunchy chickpeas) and even chicken nuggets. Only 13 of those products are still in production, and over 60% received positive marks from our tasting panel.

We used to look forward to reviewing Saffron Road meals.

Today we have two new (to us) frozen meals: Sweet & Sour Chicken (touted as "stir fry recipe") and Butter Chicken.

the Sweet & Sour Chicken from Saffron Road, after cooking

The Sweet & Sour Chicken has 340 calories, 590mg sodium, and just 1 gram of fiber. ONE. Brown rice, anyone?

The package claims this is "a masterful pineapple & ginger sweet-sour sauce" with bok choy and red and green bell peppers.


What this really is is a bunch of nondescript red and green vegetable-like bits that have been cooked to mush in a sauce that tastes of every gram of the 7 grams of added sugar: there are almost two teaspoons of sugar in this tiny little dish.

Look at the sheen on that meal - that's not just reflection from the lighting - and the sauce has that overly slickery mouthfeel of too much cornstarch. If we can rely on the Ingredients list, there's more cornstarch than salt in this dish. Given that there's more than 1/4 teaspoon of salt, I'm not sure I'd want to see the recipe for this dish.

Sure, the white rice is cooked nicely and the three chunks of chicken are pretty tender as well. We would have bet that Saffron Road, of any frozen food company, would be the most likely to make a sweet & sour sauce that wasn't overly sweet, but we'd have lost.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Butter Chicken from Saffron Road

We had much higher hopes for the Butter Chicken (440 calories, 520mg sodium, 1g fiber) - after all, Saffron Road started out making Indian food.

This is the same white rice and the same tender chunks of chicken as the Sweet & Sour Chicken.

the Butter Chicken from Saffron Road, after cooking

And what looks like the same amount of corn starch with the same ultra-slickery mouthfeel.

Granted, this is Butter Chicken: the sauce is made by simmering tomatoes with lots of butter and cream. Of course it's thick and slippery!

The problem is the flavor. My wife summed it up: she took a taste and said, "Is it just me, or does this taste like Campbell's® Tomato Soup with some spices?"

I took another taste (both dishes are gluten-free) of just the sauce and had to agree. This is just sweet, childhood-flavored tomato soup with a little cumin and garam masala - and a lot of corn starch. It certainly isn't Butter Chicken. How very disappointing.

Posted: July 23, 2021