Indian Spiced Macaroni and Cheese
This year, my best friend and I both turned 35.
Meaning I've known the guy for 20 years.
Twenty. That's two whole decades. If our friendship was a person, it would be old enough to complain bitterly about how it's bullshit that it can die for its country but not order a goddamn Bud Light in a bar.
Anyway, the reality of this stressed me out a little and I reacted to it by:
- Watching a shitload of New Found Glory videos on YouTube
- Lamenting the fact that I didn't dress like Tragic Kingdom era Gwen Stefani at a time in my life when abs were actually a possibility (Now? I have a regular paycheck and know where they keep the expensive cheese at Whole Foods. Abs ain't happening)
- Offering to make him dinner for his birthday.
I have an entire shelf in my fridge dedicated to hot sauce and I'm growing my own jalapeños and Serrano peppers. You think I'm gonna feed my best friend bland food on his birthday?
I don't think so.
So, I had a little fun with a classic and now, I'm sharing the recipe with you.
- 1 16oz box dried pasta. Elbows are a lesser pasta and we all know. Gemelli, Cavatappi, Fusilli or go home.
- 8 tablespoons butter - separated into 3 tablespoons and 5 tablespoons.
- 1 pint of whole milk at room temperature. It's gotta be whole milk. We're making macaroni and cheese. It's not health food.
- 5 tablespoons regular AP flour.
- 8oz sharp cheddar - grated
- 4oz of Monterrey Jack/Pepper Jack/Gouda - whatever you wish/whatever's on sale - grated
- 1 yellow onion - finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger - grated
- 1/2 Serrano or jalapeño pepper - cut in half and finely chopped. Do not deseed it. You've survived heartbreak, kakistocratic administrations beholden to foreign powers, those asshats at ABC canceling Happy Endings, death and disease. You can survive a little heat.
- Pinch mustard seeds*
- Pinch cumin seeds
- Pinch turmeric
- Pinch garam masala
- Pinch chili powder
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Chopped cilantro to garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil to taste
* A note about the pinches. Look, I have no idea what that measurement is. Every time I ask Mom for cooking advice in regards to spices, her answer is, "A chupti."
Chupti being a nebulous term for the square root of pixie dust divided by the weight of a child's soul in micrograms. So, more if you like more, less if you hate good food.
1. Boil salted water. Cook pasta. Set aside.
2. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan.
3. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
4. Wait until they start to pop, splutter and fizzle. Watch out because those bastards are little goddamn projectiles of heat and rage. I have all of these freckles on my neck. It looks like a goddamn Everything Bagel and I am like, 70% convinced that it's not freckles so much as it is engrained bits of mustard and cumin seeds.
5. Add onions and stir until they're coated with butter.
6. Add the grated ginger, half of your chopped chilis, chili powder, turmeric and garam masala and stir well.
7. Turn heat to low and let the flavors all get to know one another and hang out.
8. While you're waiting on that, grab the pot you made the pasta in. What? You want to use another pot? Easy there, Rockerfeller.
9. Melt five tablespoons of butter.
10. When the butter's all foamy, add the five tablespoons of flour and stir rapidly. Yes yes y'all. We're making a fuckin' roux - the basis of all good things in this world.
11. Once the pan scrapes clean (like this), slowly pour in your milk while stirring.
12. Start adding the grated cheese, handful by handful and keep stirring.
13. Once the sauce starts looking creamy and delicious, take your fragrant browned onion mixture and drop it in the sauce.
14. Add the remaining chilis.
15. Stir the pot like you're a Real Housewife stirring up some drama.
16. Add pasta to the sauce. and stir it up once more.
17. Taste it. Does it need anything? Salt, pepper, more chili? If so, now's the time to add it.
18. By now, you've got something that you could serve but let's make it a little better. So, take your macaroni and cheese and pour it into a greased baking dish.
19. Mix half a cup of panko breadcrumbs with a dash of cumin, a dash of garam masala, a dash of chili powder and sprinkle this breadcrumb mixture over the mac and cheese. Drizzle it with olive oil. If you wanna get real trashy with it, sub out the breadcrumbs with smashed up jalapeño potato chips, smashed up jalapeño pretzels or spicy thin sev.
20. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
21. Remove foil and broil for five minutes or just until the top gets nicely brown and crispy.
22. Remove from oven, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
Et voila! Indian spiced macaroni and cheese!
Serve with curry, a fresh garden salad or just drop it on the coffee table, grab a giant serving spoon and eat directly from the baking dish while watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer reruns and realizing that ugh, Xander is the actual worst.