Trader Joe’s Upgrade: Channa Masala with Chicken & Peas (gf, v option)

The second best thing to cooking meals from scratch is doctoring ready-to-go options, don’t you think? I think this is called “faking it” in the real world, but hey- you do what you gotta do when you’re low on time and need to eat. This week, I fell in love with a frozen meal that will become a staple in our household: Trader Joe’s Channa Masala. It’s a Punjabi Indian chickpea dish with a tomato base and coriander, cilantro, mango powder, onion, and garlic. It’s incredibly, incredibly aromatic, it’s low calorie, and vegan. And cooks in four minutes.

channa masala chicken and bread

Trader Joe’s was giving out samples the last time I was there, and I followed the intoxicating aroma across the store like  a cartoon character floating by its nose. I grabbed two out of the freezer before I had swallowed my first bite. It’s that good. And $2.99. Cheap and delicious- two of my favorite adjectives!

Lauren goes to Trader Joe's

Lauren goes to Trader Joe’s

It’s snowing in St. Louis today, and Dave ventured out to the International grocery store before the weather got too bad. He came back with a surprise- freshly made Afghan bread. Two large circles of light, bubbly, pita-like bread, meant to be torn  in chunks and used to scoop up saucy foods… Saucy foods like channa masala. Aaaand the post comes full circle. Here’s how we prepared today’s channa masala and Afghan bread for lunch:



  • 2 packages Trader Joe’s Channa Masala
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 chicken breasts, optional- I listed this as vegan because the chicken can be left out
  • Afghan bread, pitas, or naan, or brown rice for gf (Trader Joe’s sells frozen naan next to the channa masala, but if you have a local international grocery store, you’ll be able to find an interesting middle eastern, Indian, or African bread there.)


THIS IS SO EASY. Boil two chicken breasts in salted water for about ten minutes or until cooked and chop, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Heat the channa masala trays one at a time, for three minutes each. Add the chopped chicken back into the saucepan you cooked it in (water drained, of course), add the contents of both channa masala trays.

tjs channa masala

Add the reserved cooking water and the frozen peas. Cook for about five minutes, uncovered, until the mixture is well combined and the peas are hot. Serve with Afghan bread and enjoy the fun and sensual experience of eating with your hands. We enjoyed the scooping and the messiness- it seems natural! What are some of your favorite ready-made foods to doctor up??

Afghan bread

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