Last Updated on September 13, 2019
EDITOR’S NOTE: Aldi has started selling yet another tikka masala, this time under the Cook House private label. Rachael has a review of that here.
Aldi sells a wide selection of Indian food, both as part of its Regular Buy lineup and in its rotating ALDI Find lineup. One of the staples of both lineups are simmer sauces that can be used with meats or vegetables to create full Indian dishes.
Aldi is also known to reformulate its products from time to time. That’s not a surprise. What is a surprise, though, is when Aldi reformulates a product as frequently and as dramatically as we’ve seen with Journey to India Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce. At the time of this post, in mid-2019, there are a full three different versions of this sauce available at different Aldi stores in our area:
- a 70-calorie, 16 ounce version that has existed since at least 2016
- a 60-calorie, 15 ounce version that showed up sometime around early 2019
- a 45-calorie, 16 ounce version that showed up sometime around early 2019
All three bear the same label, but all are different in terms of ingredients. We decided to put all three to the test.
Journey to India Tikka Masala: The 70-Calorie Version
In the first year of our website, we wrote up a roundup on the Aldi Regular Buy Indian food options. We discussed several products, all of which we thought were good. But the real star of the show was the 70-calorie Journey to India Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, which we think of as the “original” sauce, since it was the sauce on the shelves when Aldi Reviewer launched in 2016. We think it’s not only the best of the Aldi Indian sauces, but it is the best store-bought tikka masala sauce we’ve ever tried, even over tikka sauces we’ve purchased from local Indian and international grocers. I was reminded of this not long ago when I went with my family to a well-respected local Indian buffet … and came away thinking that Aldi’s original sauce was awfully competitive even to that restaurant’s sauce. I really think it’s that good.
Everything about this sauce works. It’s got rich flavor, a medium heat, and it soaks in beautifully with chicken. (We’ve also tested it on lamb and loved it.) It’s even better the second day.
Journey to India Tikka Masala: The 60-Calorie Version
A subtle change to the Journey to India sauce hit our stores around April of 2019. It’s slightly smaller than the 70-calorie version — it’s 15 ounces instead of 16 ounces and there are only 7 servings instead of 8 — and it has subtle changes to the ingredients list. For example, there’s no coconut creme in the 60-calorie version, and no garam masala, which is a spice mix often used in tikka masala and other Indian dishes. On the other hand, the 60-calorie version is slightly lower in fat and sodium per serving than the 70-calorie version.
The taste is adequate, although our testers found it inferior to the original 70-calorie version. It’s not as creamy and lacks the same degree of rich flavor the original has. We were able to compensate a little by sprinkling in a little garam masala — Aldi sold some as an ALDI Find a while back — but it still wasn’t quite the same.
Journey to India Tikka Masala: The 45-Calorie Version
We first got word about this new reformulated Aldi tikka from others online in January of 2019, although we did not find it in our local stores until June 2019. It’s easy to spot because it has 45 calories per serving rather than the original 70 calories.
It’s a more dramatic reformulation from the original 70-calorie tikka. The 45-calorie version not only lacks coconut creme and garam masala like the 60-calorie version does, but it also has no cayenne pepper and lists water as its first ingredient. On the other hand, it is a little creamier than the 60-calorie tikka (maybe because there’s more sauce than the 60 calorie version), although has about the same creaminess as the 70-calorie original. Also of note: this has the lowest fat content and sodium content of the three sauces.
Almost all of the chatter we saw online regarding this 45-calorie version was negative. After trying it ourselves, we found it to be rather bland. It has much less flavor than either the 70-calorie or even 60-calorie versions, and even adding some garam masala doesn’t really fix it. It’s not a terrible sauce, in our view — at least some of our testers said it was okay — but it was telling that, in our test, no one was really coming back for seconds or begging to get the leftovers. It’s on par with forgettable sauces we’ve gotten at big box stores.
Aldi tweaks its products from time to time, and for various reasons. In this case, we could probably speculate that health may be a consideration. The 60-calorie and 45-calorie sauces are both healthier than the 70-calorie sauce: in addition to the calorie differences, there are differences in sodium and fat. The 70-calorie sauce has 330 mg of sodium and 4.5 g of fat per serving, the 60-calorie sauce has 300 mg of sodium and 3.5 g of fat per serving, and the 45-calorie sauce has 180 mg of sodium and 2.5 g of fat per serving. There’s an obvious health upside to the newer tikkas, especially the 45-calorie version, and that may fit part of Aldi’s move toward healthier products.
That health upside comes at a cost, because in our view the new tikkas just don’t taste as good. The 60-calorie is decent, at least, on par with some of the jarred sauces we’d had from other places, if not terribly memorable. It isn’t as good as the 70-calorie sauce — the taste isn’t as good and it is less creamy — but some people might find it good enough to be worth a try. We can’t quite bring ourselves to recommend it, but it’s also not the worst tikka we’ve had.
The 45-calorie sauce is worse. It’s mediocre, like the one-and-done jars we’ve tried from Target or Walmart that just didn’t do it for us. While it’s creamier than the 60-calorie version, it’s bland and doesn’t have much taste or kick. It’s on the lower tier of tikka sauces we’ve had and we can’t recommend it.
Most of the time, Aldi tweaks are for the better: as in better products, better taste, or better prices. But every once in a while the tweaks are not for the better … and we feel like that’s what happened to Aldi’s tikka masala. The 70-calorie tikka was a gold standard for jarred tikka masala sauces and a go-to meal for us. We can’t say the same about the 45-calorie version or even the 60-calorie version. Color us disappointed.
One of the few jarred sauces that my daughter loved. Tikka Massala 70 calorie version. Now at her first bit with new 45 calorie version she declared bland. Go back to your old recipe Aldi! If worried about calories, people can put less sauce on their rice. Probably a financial decision to save money. UGH, big bummer.
I lived in India for 8 years and my husband is from India. I often buy these summer sauces to use as a base for chicken curry. I usually add other spices, heavy cream or coconut milk to thicken the sauce and add more depth of flavor. They are so good, and better than the masala simmer sauce from TJ’s. My only complaint is that there are no directions for how to use the sauce on the bottle. I am experienced enough in Indian cuisine to figure it out but for someone trying it out for the first time, it could be confusing.
I knew something was different as soon as I poured it out. Then I tasted and confirmed immediately. It’s edible but very bland. This might be the first return I bother with at Aldi (I stocked up and not interested in making the rest), but it’s important for them to get the message. The original was really good stuff.
There’s a lengthy discussion on that roundup of the sauces page: https://www.aldireviewer.com/2016/09/29/indian-food-aldi-style/ for those interested.
I thought I was going crazy. The Tikka Masala is one of my favorite items and I just made it and it has no taste. Did some googling and found this post…turns out I have the 15oz jar and I didn’t even notice. Hopefully I can find the original formula again because it was perfect!
TRAGEDY!! I love love loved the old 60 calorie Tikka Masala. I’d make a veggie version for my lunches a couple weeks a month. The new low calorie tastes TERRIBLE. It is ruined. I want my 25 calories back!! Wish I could buy a case of the old recipe…
Calories from soy oil are not what I’m looking for here. I was happy with the coconut. I believe it was good for us. The 70 cal version was my son and husband’s intro to Indian food. It was always enjoyed by all. The heat level was unpredictable. We just tried the 60 calorie version and it was very wimpy. Bland. Not planning on trying the 45 version.
I’m so glad to know that I’m not crazy! The new sauce looks and tastes like much more of a tomato-based sauce rather than an Indian sauce. Aldi – please bring back the 70-calories version! If it’s a money thing, I will just pay more for it. But don’t substitute for a sub-standard product.
We have loved the original Tikka Masala sauce for years. I had no idea there was a change until I opened a new jar and poured it all over my ingredients. The jar does not say “new recipe.” It smelled different immediately. It is awful. It tastes like a creamy jarred salsa. I am so disappointed. It does not taste Indian at all and leaves a chalky feel in your mouth. Yuck! Please bring back the original version. I won’t be buying it again until then.
I could not believe I found one more jar of the original Tikka Masala sauce today. It was in a box with a bunch of the new ones, and it stuck up higher than the new jars. I encourage you to keep looking for the original jars especially if you have more than one ALDI nearby. Good luck!
If only we could all be that fortunate. What a good find!
I found 5 jars of the 70-calorie Tikka Masala in my local Aldi the first week of August and 4 more on August 13 at the next nearest store. Both stores had close to 100 jars (4 boxes), they are putting the new stock in front so go to the bottom box in the back to have a chance to win. Dates on the ones I found were late 2020 and early 2021.
Crossing my fingers that this is a sign of a shift. That would be most excellent news.
So why has Aldi stopped selling this? It was soo good.
Actually, I’m going to see if my Aldi has the 45 calorie version. I’ve tried very little Indian food in the past and did not enjoy it (the last being a frozen Butter Chicken dinner I got at that other German grocery that begins with “L”). Something about the combination of spices they use is off-putting to my taste buds. Plus, the spiciness (heat) doesn’t sit well with me, although I like spicy food as a rule. Perhaps if I like the ‘bland’ version, I can graduate to more flavorful Indian cuisine in the future. 🙂
This was my favorite sauce of all time. I bought a jar as usual and made my chicken. Thought it looked weird when simmering and tasted horrible. I thought they had mislabeled the jar and it was the jalfrezzi. I looked closer when I returned to the store later. The jar was smaller and the sauce was more red. Very upset, the original was perfect. I only have one jar left of it. Go back to the original ALDI.
My daughters friends family made his mad she loved it! So when I saw it I was excited to make it. Immediately my daughter says well you tried mom! Her friends mom finally told me about the changes and she won’t buy it anymore. I won’t either until the original is back. Let’s hope it’s soon!
Thanks, for the heads up. Now I know it wasnt my faulty cooking.
I totally agree with what you said in the article. My boyfriend and I LOVED the tikka masala sauce so much, and were so sad when they change the recipe for the worse. Luckily, we live in an area with a lot of Indian people so we are always able to find a good simmer sauce locally.
We’ve been through the variety of Tikkas, even getting those that have the spice packet attached to the lid and add in separately, and have been a little more disappointed with each change. The original was so good that we preferred it to our local Indian place which is actually pretty decent. It pairs well the the excellent Aldi Naan. This WAS my favorite Aldi product bar none. Bring the old formulation back!
I’m incredibly saddened to see that Aldi (at least our local one) is no longer offering the brand Journey to India simmer sauces.
The brand they’ve replaced it with is incredibly subpar. Our family is going through Tiki Masala withdrawal because I refuse to purchase the replacement sauce (not one person in our house liked the new brand’s flavor).
Yes Aldi! PLEASE BRING BACK TO 70 cal Journey to India tikka masala simmer sauce!!! My daughter hated Indian food and I had forgotten and made this for dinner, and she LOVED IT!!! We all did!! I was so happy with the flavor I bragged to my friends , and sent my husband to get more and it’s an entirely different brand😫. I would love to have more of the original one!!!
If you like a more spicy version, I added red pepper flake, curry powder and flaked coconut because I didn’t have any coconut milk. I rarely use jarred sauce as is from a jar. I also added onions and mushrooms after I added chicken that I had previously browned.
Does anyone know if Aldi is carrying the Indian meal kits and sauces any more. It is now July of 2021, and I haven’t seen any in our Aldi, in quite a while. I admit, that I haven’t been in Aldi as much, due to a busier life, and have wondered if Aldi had discontinued these products, or if they were carrying them, but they were just gone, before I got there.
Aldi sells a variety of jarred Indian sauces under its Cook House private label. They have:
Butter chicken: https://www.aldireviewer.com/cook-house-butter-chicken-sauce/
Tikka masala: https://www.aldireviewer.com/cook-house-tikka-masala-sauce/
Aldi also sells naan and basmati rice. Sometimes Aldi sells frozen samosas as a limited-time Aldi Find as well. Aldi used to sometimes sell frozen Indian entrees like tikka masala with rice, but I haven’t seen any meals like that in a while.