We could easily see getting this at an Indian restaurant. The chickpeas have skins with a little bite that give way to tender legume, and we dig the gentle sweetness and jolt of garam masala.
There's a fine line between really tender eggplant and mushy eggplant, and this gets it just right. We love the sweetness balanced against the fairly complex spicing, which doesn't shy away from heat. Boldly flavored, nicely textured, all around pretty great for three bucks.
Carey described this Bite as "sustaining," and I agree—you feel full after finishing one, and relatively virtuous. The mix of paneer, potatoes, peas, carrots, mushrooms, and green beans is soft and comforting, with a sweetness and creaminess amplified by cashew paste in the sauce. The warm spices are bold and assertive, and though the paneer is fall-apart soft, the rest of the vegetables retain their textures well.
Another Bite that could pass for a steam table selection at a quick service Indian restaurant. A thick starchy gravy that's heavy on onion funk and sweetness. These are lentils to rely on.
This mix of barley and lentils cooked with raisins and ginger is one of Tasty Bite's "meal inspirations" (or as I think of it, "Takeout Helper"), but it's wholesome enough to be a dish on its own. The firm and chewy barley and lentils are clean-tasting, slightly nutty, and overall a virtuous-feeling way to get your grains.
Name aside, we quite like this. It's a grain dish of millet, bulgar, and soybeans, each cooked well. There's a lot of textural contrast going on here, with mild but clean flavors and a fair amount of nuttiness.
Kormas are traditionally rich stews from northern India thickened by cream, coconut milk, and/or nuts. In American restaurants they're usually larded with fat but not much flavor. The calorie count on this korma is on the low end for Tasty Bite, but that coconut milk creaminess comes through loud and clear. The spices are gentle and the mixed vegetables are pretty soft, but if I encountered this at a curry-in-a-hurry steam table joint, I'd be pretty pleased.
Ginger Lentil Rice
Tasty Bite's rices fair pretty well: they're not overcooked in the least and carry some of the fragrance of freshly made rice. This one is clean and slightly nutty, with a nice fruitiness from chilies. Good rice to supplement any home cooked or takeout meal.
One of the better spinach-based bites, less vegetal and more balanced. There's onion sweetness, solid heat, and more of those well-cooked chickpeas.
Paneer and peas in a relatively thin and sweet sauce. We wish the spices were more bold and that the sauce had more body, but the paneer has a nice chewiness and the peas are creamy-soft. Best over rice.
Another solid rice pouch. Not as floral as fresh jasmine rice but with a notable buttery flavor.
Garlic Brown Rice
Nutty and clean with subtle garlic flavors, a fine upgrade on plain brown rice.
Basic 90 second microwavable rice, and much better than most instant rice out there.
A little on the dry side, but hey, decent brown rice in 90 seconds. We'll take that.
Zesty Lentils and Peas
Tender chickpeas—not lentils—and large peas made for adding to other dishes. We'd like them with a coconut milk and tomato sauce for a korma-style curry.
Tehari Herb Rice
Butter, cumin, and fenugreek come through in this rice dish. If you're partial to the maple-esque bittersweet flavor of fenugreek, you'll probably like this. If not, you may want to pass for one of the more neutral-flavored rices.
Thai Lime Rice
The musky lime and lemongrass flavors drew mixed reactions for this rice. It's strongly flavored, with some coconut sweetness for balance, but not as fresh-tasting as lime and lemongrass can be.
Potato chunks in a spinach purée. The tender potatoes have a nice tanginess, and mustard seed puts its best foot forward, but the spinach sauce is more thin than our liking.
A pulse of creamy, well-cooked lentils with chickpeas for texture. Our chickpeas were on the tough side, but the appealingly brusque garam masala-esque spicing in the lentils delivered.
Turmeric is the loudest spice in this quiet split lentil dal. The texture is pleasantly thick, but more starchy than creamy, and we would have appreciated more flavor overall.
A "meal inspiration" meant for adding to other dishes, and a convenient way to kickstart a chickpea-based meal. Definitely mix it into something saucy—onions, garlic, and chili add flavor to these chickpeas, but they're subtle.
A basic creamy stew with onion and tomato warmth. The mushrooms are kind of a non-event, but the sauce is good on rice.
Potatoes for dinner is just fine by us, and we appreciate the boldness of the whole cumin seeds, but the thin sauce lacked the umph to make this Bite all it could be.
Lighter on the spices than the other dals, and thinner to. The vegetal spinach overwhelms the subtle earthy lentil flavors.
The Thai-inspired Tasty Bites tend towards the sweet end, without much spice. We wish these butter beans were firmer; as is they melt into the too-mild sauce.
"Tandoori" typically refers to meat that's marinated and cooked in a blazing hot tandoor oven. Rice doesn't fall under that category, which is why this Bite tastes a little confused. It's alright, but the slight tomato and dairy flavors feel out of place in this grain dish.
Tasty Bite's take on saag paneer. We wish the spinach had more substance, and the paneer's pretty bland. Some hot sauce livens it up considerably.
Makhani—a buttery tomato sauce that's India's closest relative to tikka masala—is a special thing when done right, with sweetness, spice, dairy richness, and tomato sharpness all in balance. This version is too thin and sweet, with paneer that's more crumbly than lush.
Tofu Corn Masala
A sweeter and more mild curry than most, studded with soft tofu, tender potatoes, and crunchy corn. Pretty middle of the road; it could stand to be more assertive; as-is it's forgettable.
Here's one we won't recommend—there's way too much cumin and cardamom going on, enough to make the lentils taste mentholated.
Another skip—the sauce is sweet but not much else, and the tofu and vegetable medley are pretty flavorless.