Alisa Fleming ~ Indian food is one of those murky areas when it comes to dairy-free dining. Many of the dishes “appear” dairy-free, but questions must be asked. Is there butter in this dish? What about yogurt? And how about cheese? Oh wait, I should specify … does it contain paneer? Yes, I’ve actually been to Indian restaurants where they swore up and down, “no, no, no, it does not contain cheese,” when in fact paneer (a fresh, rennet-free cheese common in South Asian cuisine) lurked within. Apparently, paneer doesn’t always “count” as cheese in Indian restaurants, but it does to me.
Since neither my husband nor I is very fond of Indian cuisine, I’ve never considered it a great loss. We simply avoid Indian restaurants. But, when the opportunity arose to make 10-minute Indian meals at home, free from dairy, how could I pass it up?
Doing my best to keep an open mind, I cheerfully opened the package from Tasty Bite, which contained several “entrees” and a couple of simmer sauces. Most would be described as Indian cuisine, but Tasty Bite has expanded to include cuisines from other parts of Asia, and I even spotted a Mexican Pilaf on their website.
Tasty Bite is definitely big on flavor … every product that we trialed was packed with bold spices that simply commanded to be served with loads of veggies and rice, lest they be too overpowering.
Honestly, I loved how quickly I could throw together dinner when I had a Tasty Bite product on hand. The ones we ended up liking best were the Malaysian Lodeh, Bombay Potatoes, and Spinach Dal.
I served the Malaysian Lodeh with rice noodles, and nothing else. The packet was surprisingly filled with big chunks of carrots and baby corn and triangles of tofu. The veggies and tofu were a bit harder cooked than I usually like, but tasty nonetheless. The sauce was so rich, that I even saved a little to have with rice the next day.
Since the serving sizes aren’t high in calories (about two 110 to 120 calorie servings per packet), I served the Bombay Potatoes and Spinach Dal together with rice for our lunch. We both thought the flavor of the Spinach Dal was wonderful. Since I like spinach too (be aware, this one really is for spinach-loveres only!), this one was my hands down favorite and one I would consider buying at the store. The Bombay Potatoes shocked both of our taste buds a bit at first, but as we ate it and combined with a wild rice, it seemed to mellow quite a bit. It is a great dish for those who like a good dose of both flavorful and heat-packed spice.
We also prepared the Thai Lime Rice from Tasty Bite. Aside from saucy entrees, they offer an assortment of heat and go flavored rice dishes. Though I love Thai food and some days I practically live on rice, I’m not a big lime fan. Since all Tasty Bite dishes seem to be strongly flavored, this one was a bit too limey for me, but we did enjoy it when made into a Thai Lime Stir Fry. The added ingredients were complimentary, and helped to tone down the zestiness of the lime.
Now that I am familiar with Tasty Bite, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for sales on some of their other vegan sides and entrees. Of all the products we reviewed, the ingredients were nice, simple, and wholesome, which made me feel good about what I was serving. For example, the Malaysian Lodeh ingredient statement is as follows: Water, Carrots, Onions, Beans, Baby Corn, Tomatoes, Tofu, Coconut Milk, Chilies, Cornstarch, Sunflower Oil, Sugar, Yeast Extract, Celery, Soy Sauce, Lemongrass, Ginger, Salt, Garlic, Basil, Spices.
Not all of the Tasty Bite products are dairy-free (yes, some paneer sneaks into some of their entrees too!), but many are. Just take a look at their website, they have an amazing number of products to choose from! However, keep in mind that several food allergens (including dairy, peanuts, etc.) are present in the Tasty Bite manufacturing facility. They do a good job of noting this on their product packaging.
Third-party review by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org, blogger at Alisa Cooks, and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications, with an emphasis on creating recipes for various types of special diets.
For more information and to purchase these product, visit the Tasty Bite Website.