Indian Food is fragrant, flavorful, colorful, and overall, I find it to be delicious. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani was all of this and more. We’re huge Indian food lovers to start, so we were particularly excited to try this item when we first saw it in the frozen food section. It did not disappoint. While the dish is not 100% perfect, it’s honestly close. As many Trader Joe’s lovers can probably agree with, TJ’s has somewhat mastered fast and convenient Indian cuisine. So, let’s dish out the details on this biryani!
So, what exactly is biryani? If you’re an Indian food newbie you may have never heard of biryani and probably aren’t aware of all the varieties of it that exist. Truthfully, we’re not new to the scene and we still don’t know them all.
Fun Facts About Biryani
In 2019, Biryani was the single-most ordered dish on Indian online food delivery services. That’s right 95 biryanis per minute.
A study by SEMrush in the same year showed that Chicken Biryani was the most searched Indian food globally, surpassing both Butter Chicken and Samosa.
Traditionally, biryani is a Indian dish that consists of rice, meat, and spices. Chicken or goat meat is commonly used to accompany the array of spices in the dish. You may also see versions of biryani with beef or seafood. Trader Joe’s version is vegan so the meat has been replaced with tasty vegetable dumplings.
Like most Indian food, biryani shines in the taste department with spices such as pepper, cloves, mint, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, bay leaves, green chiles and garlic.
Trader Joe’s did the dish proud with their version which balances many of these flavors.
While the dish was heating, the warm and spiced fragrance notes of the biryani filled the kitchen. Upon removing the biryani from the microwave, you could see the spices spread throughout the dish covering each grain of rice.
The biryani even packed some heat which intensified as you continued to eat it. It seemed mild to start but landed somewhere at a medium spice by the time we finished the dish.
If spice isn’t your thing this biryani may not for you. As always, you have the option to serve the biryani with a mild chutney or curry to calm the spices.
The Good and The Bad
The ingredients of this dish stood out in a good way. Frozen meals can be hard to make flavorful but Trader Joe’s hit the nail on the head with their biryani.
It’s nice to be able to see whole pieces of vegetables throughout the dish and to know what it is that you’re eating. Not to mention that they succeeded in creating an authentic Indian dish without sacrificing quality or ingredients. They certainly didn’t hide anything in here.
The vegetables listed include, onions, green peas, cabbage, red bell peppers, lima beans, cauliflowers, carrots, green chili and even raisins and cashews. What a list right? While we ate, we took notice of the veggies we saw and what was missing. We noticed a lot of green peas, some red bell peppers, and some lima beans.
The other ingredients were not visible throughout the rice but perhaps were used to make the dumplings. We’ll have to take note the next time we eat the biryani to see if the type of vegetables that make it into the dish differs between boxes.
Another funny observation is that this box of vegetable biryani box only contained three dumplings. While it was delicious, we were disappointed and felt mislead as the picture on the box includes five dumplings. It’s possible that the number of dumplings varies by box or maybe we were just unlucky but TJs should make this known.
How to Cook Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani
The vegetable biryani comes in a microwave-safe tray that’s easy to pop in the microwave for a solid dish in under 4 minutes. The texture was overall great, especially being a frozen meal. Had I been served this by somebody and not been told it was a frozen meal, I might have second guessed them.
Most of the rice was cooked as if it had come out of a rice steamer, and for the most part the vegetable dumplings had a great texture too. As with any frozen microwavable meal there were some cold pockets within the rice. This required the rice to be mixed once and heated for another minute.
As for the dumplings, two of the three were perfect. They were fluffy on the inside and just crispy enough on the outside. The third dumpling on the other hand was flavorful but soggy. This makes me wonder even more if your experience with this meal will depend on the box you get.
Back of the Box Heating Instructions
Microwave (1200 watt)
- Remove tray from box and puncture film 2 to 3 times.
- Heat on High for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Carefully remove film and give the rice and biryani a good stir.
- Heat for 1 additional minute or until heated all the way through.
Note: The box specifically states that you DO NOT use a toaster oven.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F for 15 minutes.
- Remove tray from box but DO NOT remove film.
- Place tray on a baking sheet on center rack of oven. (DO NOT place tray directly on oven rack)
- Heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated all the way through.
- Remove film and stir
- Carefully remove film and give the rice and biryani a good stir.
- If not heated through place tray on baking sheet and return to the oven for additional 1 minute increments.
Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani Nutrition Facts
Nutritionally, there aren’t really any surprises here. Rice and dumplings equate to calories and carbs.
Freezer meals and premade soups are typically higher in sodium and one serving of the vegetable biryani will set you back 690mg or 30% of your daily value.
There are 2 servings per container making a serving half of the tray (certainly enough for a portion size).
While a serving is 210 calories, it also offers 6g of dietary fiber which many individuals struggle to get enough of in their diets so this is an added bonus.
Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani Ingredients [November 2022]
COOKED BASMATI RICE (WATER, BASMATI RICE), ONIONS, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, GREEN PEAS, CABBAGE, RED BELL PEPPERS, LIMA BEANS, CANOLA AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL, CAULIFLOWER, CARROTS, SPICES, GARLIC, SALT, SUGAR, RAISINS, CASHEWS, CILANTRO, GREEN CHILI, CITRIC ACID (ACIDULANT) TURMERIC (SPICE AND COLOR), SODIUM BICARBONATE, MINT.
CONTAINS WHEAT, CASHEW.
Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani – What’s in the Box?
Is Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani Gluten Free?
The vegetable biryani is not gluten-free. This also wasn’t a surprise as the 3rd ingredient listed is whole wheat flour.
Is Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani Vegan?
Vegans rejoice, as we mentioned above, Trader Joe’s went meatless with their spin on biryani making it accessible the vegans and vegetarians.
It’s also dairy free as well.
Those with nut allergies should take note that the biryani does contain cashews.
Is Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani Seasonal?
To our delight, the Trader Joe’s vegetable biryani is not a seasonal item and can be found in TJ’s famous freezers all year-round.
Overall, Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani is a great choice for a quick and easy frozen meal. It’s authentic Indian flavor was a hit in our home and left us both satisfied yet wanting more (2 more dumplings more!) You also can’t be the value at just $2.99.
So whether it’s your first experience with Indian food or your 50th we think it’ll leave you wanting more.