How Trader Joe’s Became Known for Its Indian Food
How Trader Joe’s Became Known for Its Indian Food

The American grocery chain inadvertently built a line of products — from lamb vindaloo to spicy chakri mix — that appeal to South Asians and non-South Asians alike.

Some Indian products from Trader Joe's private label: organic garlic naan crackers, yellow tadka dal, spiced chai, masala simmer sauce, chicken tikka samosas, and spicy chakri mix.

Some Indian products from Trader Joe's private label: organic garlic naan crackers, yellow tadka dal, spiced chai, masala simmer sauce, chicken tikka samosas, and spicy chakri mix.

When I was in graduate school, the hours before flights to New York from Bengaluru were full of tearful goodbyes, promises to return soon, and last-minute packing that ended with food. For many South Asians who leave home — for college, grad school, or even a short trip — home-cooked food, such as batch-cooked dal, a stack of chapatis, poriyals, or biryani, is almost an obligatory packing item.

There’s a comfort that comes with having home-cooked food available at the punch of a microwave button. Though the U.S. is no stranger to the wonders and affordability of prepared convenience, you may be hard-pressed to find a lot of good Indian fare.

But walk down the aisles of your nearest Trader Joe’s — the national grocery chain with over 500 stores, known for its purposefully limited selection of products and the cult-like reverence to them — and you’ll quickly find hints of India. After passing the spiced chai, the wildly popular naans, and a pleasantly tangy mango ginger chutney, you’ll end up at the frozen section. Amid bags of cauliflower gnocchi and a stack of vegan jackfruit cakes, you’ll likely find foods that resemble the menu of many Indian restaurants — garlic naan, butter chicken, palak paneer, lamb vindaloo, fish korma, tikka masala, vegetarian biryani. You’ll also find shelf-sta

Get access to this article and many more at The Juggernaut. No ads, no clickbait — just smart writing.

logo

The Juggernaut tells untold, smart South Asian stories and news you won't find anywhere else.

The Weekly

It’s like your other email briefings. But browner. Join thousands and get the best newsletter that curates the global news on South Asia(ns) every Sunday. We also send updates on events, giveaways, our original reporting, and more. Unsubscribe anytime.

Categories

Business & TechCrosswordCultureEditor's PicksFictionFilm & TVFoodOpinionPoliticsScience & TechnologySports
© 2021 THE JUGGERNAUT® ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Privacy PolicyTerms of Use