Trader Joe's offers a few versions from a single brand. So do some supermarkets. But Desi Market in Columbia offers shelf after shelf for your selection, including palak paneer, aloo mutter, chickpeas, and lentils, lentils, lentils.
If you have never had these, the Indian meals are curries and sometimes rice dishes that are fully cooked, sealed into envelopes, then boxed. They don't need to be refrigerated, and they can be easily reheated if you pour them in a bowl and microwave. That makes them perfect to bring for lunches. You can throw one in your bag, or you can even store a few in your desk.
Desi Market sells a series of brands, including Kohinoor, Priya, and MTR. I don't have a favorite, and the reason to drive to the store off Rte 108 is to pick your own. Each line tends to have a dahl (lentil) option or two, plus a chickpea option and several with vegetables and paneer. Try a few. They run about $2.50, which is a bargain compared to most turkey sandwiches sold for lunch. At home, you could pair one of these meals with a frozen naan baked in the oven. At the office, I suggest microwaving papad -- the crispy crackers that balance off the curries.
If you're looking for Indian food, check out Akbar for northern Indian food or Mango Grove for vegetarian or southern Indian food. If you're looking for other Indian markets, check out Food Cravings in Columbia or Apna Bazar or Eastern Bazaar in Laurel. Or the full list of ethnic and organic markets.
9179 Red Branch Rd # H
Columbia, MD 21045
NEAR: This is in a commercial area off Rte 108 just east of Rte 29. You can't see anything from Rte 108. You turn north on Red Branch Road at a traffic light, and Desi Bazaar is in a commercial building on the right. The parking is actually before the store, so we had to U-turn and go back.