Serves a Crowd

Masala Mac & Cheese

January 22, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

For as long as I can remember, macaroni and cheese has always been one of my favorite foods. Growing up in an Indian household with two working parents, my macaroni and cheese experience as a child consisted mainly of the boxed variety. Although I will always have fond memories of bright yellow, boxed macaroni and cheese, I have since moved on to experimenting with my own versions of the dish. When creating this dish, I wanted to incorporate some of the traditional Indian flavors and spices (masala) that I grew up eating into a classic American dish. The result is a delicious and unexpected combination of flavors. The spices blend well with the creamy cheese sauce and are balanced nicely by the sweet peas and fresh cilantro. This is an exotic twist on a classic dish that anyone can prepare at home. —Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

What You'll Need
  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes plus 2 more tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded medium Cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided use
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Set a large pasta pot filled with salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than package directions indicate for al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and salt. Cook until tomatoes break down and mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk into the melted butter. Cook for 2 minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, stirring often. Add 1 ½ cups each of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Pour the tomato masala (spice) mixture from the skillet into the cheese sauce and add the fresh cilantro and peas. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine well.
  5. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9” baking tray. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the pasta and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup each of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses over the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve warm.
  6. Note: This recipe uses 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, however you can use less if you prefer a less spicy version. Also, I like to use a microplane grater for the fresh ginger and garlic so that you don’t get any big pieces in the sauce.
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  • Laurel W
    Laurel W
  • Sonali aka the Foodie Physician
    Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

2 Reviews

Laurel W. May 3, 2010
This turned out great!!! Made this last night for me and the hubby as a side dish to some homemade sloppy-joes. Yum!! I loved the Indian flavors in this! It was great to get an Indian flavored dish without spending the whole day in the kitchen and without using mountains of pots and pans!

I really liked the addition of the peas; they didn't give too bold of a flavor, but added some great color!!!

I added more cilantro, just because hubby and I LOVE the freshness of cilantro. I also used a monterey jack that had jalapenos in it to give it a little extra kick.
Sonali A. May 3, 2010
Thanks for trying the recipe- I'm glad you liked it! I like the idea of using the pepper jack cheese- I'm going to try it next time.