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Masala Mac & Cheese

The Foodie Physician
4.41 from 5 votes
Course Entree
Cuisine American, Indian
Servings 8


  • 12- oz. cavatappi pasta
  • 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil like grapeseed or safflower
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes plus 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded Medium Cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided use
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for garnish
  • ¾ cup frozen peas


  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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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