Taste Tests

We taste the leading brands to find the distinct differences and rate them with tasting scores.

Taste Test: We Taste Every Instant Indian Bite from Tasty Bite

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Taste Test: We Taste Every Instant Indian Bite from Tasty Bite

[Photographs: pouches, Tasty Bite; bowls, Robyn Lee]

I wish I knew about Tasty Bite in college. A microwavable, totally vegetarian, and actually tasty convenience food that doesn't even require a fridge? Yes, this would have made those long work nights far more pleasant. And with takes on Indian classics like dal and vegetable curries that don't shy away from genuine spicing, they're among the tastier pouched convenience foods out there.

At about $3.29 each, a single-serving Tasty Bite pouch is pricier than packaged ramen. But it's even easier to prepare, and tastes nourishing, not just like a cocktail of salt, flavor chemicals, and preservatives. Tasty Bite ingredient lists are easy to read—for the most part they're just vegetables, legumes, spices, and the occasional dose of dairy.

The Connecticut-based company currently offers about 30 pouched products, mostly heat-and-eat "entrées," but also microwavable grain dishes and "meal inspirations," mildly seasoned ingredients like chickpeas that are fully cooked and ready to add to a larger meal. So which ones are the best? We found out the only way we could—by trying them all.

You can see our tasting notes for every pouch in the slideshow above, but here are our general findings to keep in mind:

  • Good grains: There are more cost-effective ways to buy grains like rice and millet in bulk, but we were impressed by the texture and earthy flavor of the grain-based pouches.
  • Lentils, chickpeas, and peas win: Score one for legumes—all three are generally well flavored with creamy textures. We didn't love every pouch based on these ingredients (there are many), but it's a decent indicator of success.
  • Paneer and spinach, less so: We're big paneer fans, and were saddened by the mostly bland and/or rubbery iterations we encountered here. The spinach dishes, for the most part, are overwhelmed by the vegetable's mineral flavor.
  • Thick sauces are preferable to thin: Thin curries have their places, but not with Tasty Bite. Thicker sauces were more flavorful, and had a more pleasing texture than the thinner ones.
  • Tastiness has no correlation to calories: Tasty Bites range from 200 to 500 calories per pouch.* I was half-expecting our favorite pouches to align with the fattiest of the lot: the ones with doses of oil, nut pastes, or cream. But that just wasn't so. Generous spicing and clean-tasting grains won us over more than anything else.

* The nutritional information lists a serving as half a pouch, but let's be real: a single pouch is a single serving.

Punjab Eggplant

Our favorites of the bunch? A gentle but assertively spiced Chana Masala, creamy Punjab Eggplant that balances its slow-burn heat with onion sweetness, mild and sweet Vegetable Korma, and nutty Jaipur Vegetables. Pair any of them with Ginger Lentil Rice, Barley Medley, or Zany Multigrain (we know) and you have what we're happy to call dinner.

See all the bites in the slideshow. They aren't ranked, but run generally from more to less recommended.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

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