Homemade Masala Mac & Cheese

On one of my many trips visiting my daughter in NYC, we went to S’Mac – a restaurant dedicated to mac and cheese! The location in her neighborhood closed down unfortunately but there’s still a location on the LES (Lower East Side). 10+ years later, I still remember the Masala Mac infused with spices- delicious!

Since my daughter moved to Baltimore years ago and I don’t visit NYC as often, I thought I would try to recreate the dish!

Change the spices and flavorings to create your own favorite version … using a combination of taco seasoning, Mexican chili powder, hatch green chili, jalapeƱo and corn, create a Mexican version of Mac and cheese.. Feel free to experiment with other cheeses like Pepper Jack or Colby Jack.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely diced red pepper

1 green chillies, chopped

1 teaspoon grated ginger

2 cloves garlic minced

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped, set aside a little for garnish

3 tablespoons butter, separated

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 cups warm milk

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

PREPARATIONS

Boil the macaroni (al dente) according to the directions on the packet. Drain and set aside

Heat oil in a saucepan, add the onion and red pepper, saute for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the green chili, ginger and garlic and stir on low heat for about a minute.

Add the tomato, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt, stir till combined. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes Remove from heat and set aside.

In another saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter and when foamy add the flour and keep mixing for about a minute. Gradually add the milk and when the sauce is smooth, stir occasionally until thick and bubbly.

Add the cooked pasta, cheese and the tomato spice mixture; mix until the cheese is melted.

Pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ square glass dish or a 2 quart glass dish.

In a small pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter – mix in the dry breadcrumbs.

Add breadcrumb mixture evenly over the Mac and Cheese.

Bake at 400 for 5 mins until the breadcrumbs are brown. Garnish with cilantro.

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