masala mac ‘n’ cheese recipe



I had brought this dish to a friend’s house during the holidays when I was assigned to ‘mac ‘n’ cheese‘ and was not sure how the masala flavors would go over with every one. (the pic above is before we heated it up, which made it super rich, gooey cheesy deliciousness).

At the end of the party, my friend told me that everyone was obsessed. What’s your secret?, she asked.

It isn’t much of a secret. Growing up in an Indian household, my mom added her ‘flavors’ to all dishes, and that wasn’t always traditional Indian dishes…it included anything us kids loved from quesadillas to pizza to mac ‘n’ cheese. Before the party, I googled for mac ‘n’ cheese with a twist and came upon The Foodie Physician who had an awesome recipe that I slightly modified here.

It’s definitely out of element for me to make this, since I tend to stick to super healthy recipes, and while this one is loaded with cheese and pasta, the spices give it a boost of not only flavor but health benefits too, and let’s just say it’s an indulgence your taste buds will truly thank you for 😉


masala mac ‘n’ cheese recipe
Recipe Type: lunch or dinner
Cuisine: fusion
Author: puja of
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 tray
The Indian spices in this dish will make your traditional mac n cheese POP with flavor!
  • 12-oz. cavatappi pasta
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped plum roasted tomatoes plus 2 raw tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, (according to spice level wanted)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups whole 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
  • sliced mild jalapeños for garnish
  • ¾ 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 roasted chopped tomatoes, cumin, coriander, paprika, 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 jalapeños. Serve warm.



  • Payal

    This recipe looks awesome! I can’t wait to try it. Quick question- do you buy the plum roasted tomatoes (if so do you have a picture) or do you roast the tomatoes yourself (if so how)? Thanks again for sharing this fusion recipe!

  • Payal

    So excited to try this recipe! Quick question- when it says 2 cups chopped plum roasted tomatoes, are these roasted tomatoes store bought (if so where) or did you roast at home (if so how)? Thanks!!

    • Puja

      Hi yes you can get a can of the store bought ones at somewhere like Vons or I think Trader Joes has them too (I live in Cali so Vons is like Pathmark of NY where I used to live), but if you like to avoid cans, I just lay the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme and garlic. Roast for 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and roast the tomatoes until caramelized, about 20 minutes more. Then chop them up! 🙂

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