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Gluten Free Review: Saffron Road Chicken Biryani

Updated on February 26, 2013
That big blob in the center is the onions.  You will find them glued to the plastic when it's time to stir.
That big blob in the center is the onions. You will find them glued to the plastic when it's time to stir.


When I go to the supermarket I can choose from a selection of frozen dinners featuring Indian cuisine, and most of them proclaim their gluten-freeness right on the package. It's not a universal thing--some are GF and some aren't--but a lot of dishes can proudly slap on the GF label and give those of us who are very limited in our food options one extra choice.

I've had a few GF Indian frozen dinners. I can't speak to their authenticity, but they tend to be very flavorful and delicious regardless. Maybe it's because it hasn't caught on quite in the same way as Mexican or Chinese, but I have yet to eat what I would deem "mediocre" or "bad" Indian food. Of course, I also have never been to India ...

Well, this particular frozen dinner claims to use an authentic recipe. Using "caramelized onions," which may be some authentic thing and I'm just unaware (I've had chicken biryani before but it didn't have any onions on it). I will have to trust the package for now and move forward.

Yeah, it doesn't really look like that.
Yeah, it doesn't really look like that.

The Rice

When it comes to Indian rice, you expect it to have a little flavor. And this rice was flavorful enough. Certainly similar to the rice I've had in the past. Since the majority of this dish was rice, it was important that the rice held up well in the microwave and still taste good. It was a very long grain rice, not mushy at all, but I did encounter some kind of hard, crunchy bit of uncooked rice at one point. That's a risk you always take when eating a rice-based meal, so while it was unexpected it didn't totally ruin my experience.

But whoa, there was a LOT of rice in there. Compared to the amount of chicken and sauce and everything else, I could have done with less rice or more of everything else.

The Chicken

Since the pad thai dinner had so much chicken in it I expected this to also have quite a lot. Compared to the pad thai, it didn't have all that much, though it had more than I usually get when I buy the Sukhi's brand chicken biryani. And the chicken was surprisingly moist! Usually in the other brand I find the chicken to be not just in small quantity, but a little bit dry.

Sauce, Onions, etc.

The box makes a big deal about the fact that the dish contains onions. And they're really very tasty! The only thing is, these must be the teeniest tiniest onions in the world. The strings of onion are no bigger than strands of angel hair pasta, and while there are a few of them ... there weren't enough to really satisfy the part of me that loves caramelized onions.

The sauce used on the chicken was good, with a tangy tomato flavor. I don't have much to compare it to, but I can say that it tasted almost exactly like the sauce used on Sukhi's. So if you're familiar with one, you're familiar with the other (onions aside). I might have liked a little more sauce at least to make up for so much naked rice, which is a complaint I have about Sukhi's as well.

The box indicates that this meal is "medium heat," and I find that kind of funny. It wasn't spicy at all. The pad thai was spicier. So I'm not sure what this is "medium" compared to ... but it wasn't anything. I don't know if I just got a dud. (Note: I'm not complaining. I don't like spicy foods. But I know this might scare some people away or disappoint some people, so I felt I should comment on it.)

I had to try very hard to spread the flavor around.  I am not a fan of sad, naked rice.
I had to try very hard to spread the flavor around. I am not a fan of sad, naked rice.

The Cost

Hawaii is expensive, and natural foods are also expensive. I purchased this dinner on sale for $5.99, but I think it's usually $7.49, which means it costs about as much as you might pay for a cheap dinner out. Compared to the local Indian place that has a gluten free menu, I think the cost is very similar to what I would pay for a meal.

The Pros

  • Natural, gluten free, halal, etc. etc.
  • Good flavor with big chunks of "certified humane" chicken
  • Easy to microwave, and still tastes good
  • High in protein (25g) and iron (15% RDA)
  • 400 calories is great for portion control
  • Only 4g of sugar

The Cons

  • Onions stick to plastic while microwaving (minor quibble) and are microscopic
  • Not much chicken
  • Pretty expensive for a frozen dinner
  • Sodium is 590mg (25% RDA)
  • Cholesterol is 55mg or 18% of RDA
  • Relatively high in fat (12g, 18%)

The Verdict:

This was basically the same as Sukhi's. Both brands claim to be authentic, which I think contributes to the two tasting almost exactly the same. It was a decent portion, easy to prepare, but could have used more chicken or onion to make up for the sea of empty rice.

Ingredients: Basmati Rice (Water, Basmati Rice, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Garlic, Ginger,Turmeric), Chicken (Boneless Chicken, Nonfat Yogurt [Cultured Nonfat Milk, Pectin], Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Garlic, Ginger, Sea Salt, Spices), Biryani Sauce (Onions, Yogurt [Cultured Nonfat Milk, Pectin], Tomato Puree [Tomato, Citric Acid], Chicken Stock, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Ginger, Garlic, Unsalted Butter, Spices, Sea Salt, Turmeric), Caramelized Onions (Onions, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil), Fresh Mint

Contains: Milk


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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and very useful.

      Thanks for sharing and I look forward to so many more.