I Heart Swad
I used to think Patak's was the shit, but then I got wise to Swad. Perhaps this brand is the Kraft of India, I don't know, but they do seem to manufacture every food product you could ever want–from chickpea flour to ready to eat meals (better than the ubiquitous Tasty Bite boxes that are probably getting more popular in the city thanks to Trader Joe's). And it's all packaged so sensibly with both Hindi and English terms and a large color photo.
One of my most favorite products, and not just in the Swad canon, is something called Far Far Coloured (more generically, I think they're called farfar or wafers). At least on a visual level. I'm not sure about taste as I haven't attempted cooking mine yet. It looks like rainbow colored pasta, but if I'm correct you deep fry it. There aren't any directions on the bag. The only place I've seen a before and after preparation pic is an egullet post.
I go nuts buying Swad whenever I hit Patel Brothers (do note the Swad logo watermark on this site) in Jackson Heights. Canned, boxed, bagged, jarred, frozen, I covet all of it. You can use as little or as much Swad as you'd like. I don't usually feel like making cheese from scratch, and sometimes I'm not up for toasting and grinding spices. Mincing garlic and ginger isn't a problem for me, but if that's too much you can buy the essential combo in a jar. I keep it on hand just in case. Same goes for frozen items like bird chiles that aren't easy to find in Carroll Gardens, or more obscure vegetables like drumsticks. Fresh spinach is fine, but I love Swad's tidy ziplocked palak that comes pureed in little blocks ready to cook with.
Last night I made a lazy palak paneer, which I'm sure would make purists cry, but I'm not anal about Indian cooking they way I am with S.E. Asian dishes. Essentially, I cooked down onion, garlic and ginger then added garam masala, a few hot pepper flakes, then tossed in a bag of spinach with cheese cubes following soon after. I splashed in a little half and half, as it was the only creamy thing in the house. Really, you should make your spice blend and brown the cheese separately. And the whole thing ends up as a rich ghee-filled amalgam. Instead, I used canola oil and raw cheese, as I'm trying to watch the rampant fat. It wasn't half-bad, but more vegetable forward and less like creamed spinach.
I used Swad brand paneer, garam masala, palak and mango pickle. Unfortunately, I was all out of Swad radish-stuffed naan. A nice Swad gulab jamun would've been the perfect nightcap, but I had to settle on a quarter tub (I actually managed to only eat one serving) of Ben & Jerry's Turtle Soup, which was kind of boring for that genre of ice cream. I like more crap in my frozen desserts.