Grace Costa's South Indian-Style Mac and Cheese

Recipe for Grace Costa's South Indian-Style Mac and Cheese
Becky Luigart Stayner

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see below)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (not skim)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 2-quart casserole. 

For ginger garlic paste: Ginger garlic paste provides the background flavor of many South Indian dishes. It can be purchased at Indian grocery stores or made at home by using one-third fresh garlic to two-thirds fresh ginger by weight. Process in a food processor, using as little water as necessary to make a paste. Refrigerated, it will keep for at least a week. 

For topping: In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, Asiago, and paprika. Set aside. 

Cook macaroni al dente, according to package directions. Drain and put into prepared casserole. 

For sauce: In another bowl, combine garam masala, salt, pepper, turmeric, and cayenne. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger garlic paste as butter is melting. (If added to hot butter, paste will spatter wildly; heat slowly in melting butter.) Add spice mixture and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat. Add milk slowly, stirring constantly until mixture boils for at least 1 minute, or until incorporated. Remove from heat and fold in shredded cheese. 

To assemble: Pour sauce over cooked macaroni and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with bread crumbs mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

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