Chef Preeti Mistry’s mac and cheese first won me over with that tomatoey tinge and tikka masala spicing. But the part that really confounded me was the extreme creaminess without a béchamel in sight. How? In part we can thank the full-fat dairy (don’t skimp), and also the fact that the recipe wasn't a mac and cheese to begin with. It started as a butter chicken recipe at Preeti’s first restaurant Juhu Beach Club—they thought would have a great second life as a mac and cheese (and it has).
As Preeti writes in Julia Turshen's cookbook Feed the Resistance, “This macaroni and cheese is on the 'Comforting' menu at my restaurant, where we give a dollar from every bowl to a particular non-profit organization. This one specifically supports Destiny Arts Center. We have worked with them for the past four years to support their amazing efforts. They are an incredibly powerful organization that teaches both self-defense and dance to young people on a sliding-fee scale. And more than that, it is a place where young people can express themselves creatively and explore the many issues they may be dealing with in their lives, such as racism, sexism, physical abuse, homelessness, drugs, or gangs. In the more than 25 years they have been around, the high school graduation rate among kids that are fully integrated in the program is 100 percent. We love them.”
A few more tips: The sauce big-batches well, freezes well, and holds well in the fridge, so you can scoop out big, spicy spoonfuls through the week to sauce your noodles (or anything else you’d like to tikka mac-ify) as you go. Even the fully sauced mac holds up valiantly, as long as you don’t blast it in the microwave or oven longer than necessary. If you can’t find any of the spices or would just rather use a ready-to-go blend, Preeti recommends the mustard fenugreek masala they developed with Spicewalla (but use two heaping teaspoons, since it will be spicier).
Recipe adapted slightly from Feed the Resistance by Julia Turshen. Check out Preeti’s original Butter Chicken recipe in The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook by Preeti Mistry and Sarah Henry.
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