Open a little more than a year now, Bazaar is the newest and largest of Vallejos Fijian/Indian/Pakistani grocers with spacious well-stocked aisles and bright lighting. Id driven past it many times but was finally motivated to check it out when I read about the Big Dogs obsession with Gits salty snacks in Jim Leffs Chow Alert #73. (Back issues and subscriptions can be ordered online at http://chowhound.safeshopper.com/25/c... )
The snack selection at Bazaar is mind-boggling. Two sides of the aisle devoted to snack packs take up a sizeable section of the floor space here. And, while the store stocks other products made by Gits, it had none of the snacks. The anxious-to-please owner seemed so mortified that he could not supply a snack that I wanted, I looked around to find some other things to buy to try to cheer him up.
This wasnt hard. The store carries fresh herbs and veggies, kosher chickens, a panorama of Indian frozen food entrees, kosher foods imported from Israel, stacks of frozen flat breads representing cuisines spanning the Arabian peninsula to the Indian subcontinent, fresh-baked Afghan bread on Thursdays, many freshly made sweets, an array of ice creams, halal meats, vast bags of frozen goat stew meat, buttery yellow vats of ghee, and lots more things that looked so exotic to my untrained eye. I bought one of the snacks the owner recommended (he was so eager to be helpful), and picked up a selection of Deep frozen foods prompted by a vague recollection of Kens recommendation linked below.
Bikano Namkeens Ready to Eat Snacks NatKhat Nimbu
From the world of Bikanervala (www.bikanervala.com) - Vermicelli skinny bits of potato fried in vegetable oil and seasoned with hot and spicy seasonings, tart citric acid and salt. Satisfyingly hot, salty and sour without the cloying sweetness of bbq potato chips. The heat builds on you. While the labeling on the pack says you wont stop till your pack is empty, it took me three goes at it to finish the 160 g bag. It was way too exciting and stimulating to eat in one sitting and I had to let my mouth take a rest. They held up well in the open bag over the three-day period staying crackly and not softening.
Vegetable Jal-Frazi by Deep Foods Indian Gourmet (http://www.deepfoods.com), $2.99 This was the only one I bought thats not described as spicy. The delicacy of this dish relies on the flavor and texture of the vegetables. Consequently the style doesnt translate that well as a frozen meal, as the carrots and green beans have that watery, chewy texture and not much taste left. This was my least favorite of the three Ive tried.
Chicken Tikka Makhanwala by Curry Classics (www.curryclassics.com, a separate facility/corporation of Deep Foods makes the meat products) $3.99 This packs an amazing amount of flavor. The chunks of tender roasted chicken are braised in a creamy and complex yogurt sauce. Its little stingy with the sauce but otherwise quite yummy.
Kofta Curry by Deep Foods Indian Gourmet, $2.99 Nicely firm chick pea and vegetable balls are bathed in a mildly spicy and gingery ground nut and tomato creamy sauce. This one performs the best as a frozen entrée with good texture and rich, deep flavors. This was my favorite of the three. Its better than some eat-in restaurant versions.
Paratha by Deep Foods With three attempts at heating these up at the office, I think Ive got the technique down. The package instructions recommend warming them on a tawa, but Ive improvised in the office kitchen environment. First I defrost one in the microwave for about 30 seconds. They I heat it in the toaster oven for about one and a half minutes. The paratha will bubble up and become golden brown. These are very oily and can go from just right to hard and burnt fast. Before eating I blot the bread with a couple paper towels.
Cashew ice cream by Deep Foods I tried the individual size. It suffered from some freezer burn, but I liked the richness of texture and flavor. The larger sizes might be a better bet.
These frozen entrees are great to keep at the office for lunch at ones desk. The spicy aroma of the curries wafting over the cubicle walls, however, is overwhelming for some. I agree with Ken that these are much better than TJs foil-packed line. For some background, heres an article by Joan Nathan for the NY Times on the family that owns Deep Foods - http://www.hvk.org/articles/0403/235....
1601 Marine World Pkwy, #250
Open 7 days a week, 10am-9pm