A few nights ago I was watching the episode of Gilmore Girls where Sookie makes mac n cheese for a kids party with a jalapeño-chipotle cream sauce to which Lorelai astutely remarks that the kids won’t eat it coz it’s green and hence to them, gross. Upon hearing of mac n cheese I immediately started craving some. The aforementioned cream sauce got me thinking of a variation and I wanted some spice too. So here is a wonderfully zingy recipe livened up by fresh and tangy Indian herbs and spices.
The heart of the recipe is the green sauce. To make it simply mix two parts of fresh coriander to one part mint leaves. Add as many green chillies as you can tolerate and give it a whirl in the blender or food processor. The resulting sauce can be used to flavour a variety of meats, vegetables or even as a salad dressing. It stores in the fridge for about a week and freezes well too.
From the pantry and the fridge
Macaroni- 2 cups
Whole wheat flour-3 tbsp
Olive oil-3 tbsp
Milk- 2 cups
Cheddar cheese- As per taste
Feta cheese- As per taste
Spinach- 4 fistfuls
Spices and seasoning
Cumin powder-To taste
Fresh ground black pepper- To taste
Salt- To taste
Crushed garlic- 1 tbsp
Thinly sliced green chillies- 1/2 tbsp
Chopped coriander- a handful
Green sauce- 2 or 3 tbsp
Lets get started! Cook macaroni according to the package instructions and set aside. Wash and dry the spinach and chop it roughly.
Now to prep the aromatics and seasoning. Chop the coriander, mince the garlic, slice the green chillies and grate the cheese.
In a large pot heat the olive oil and add the flour once the oil is hot. Let it cook for a couple of minutes on low heat, stirring continuously.
Add the milk while whisking the mixture continuously. Once the mix is smooth and free of lumps let it heat on medium heat until it starts to thicken. At this point take it off the heat. We don’t want to make it too thick as it will thicken with time and after adding the cheese.
In a small wok/pot heat some oil and add the minced garlic, chopped green chillies and cumin powder. Let it fry for a minute or two.
Add this to the thickened white sauce along with the salt and black pepper.
Stir to combine and after a minute add the cheeses. Mix thoroughly until the cheese melts and we are left with a glorious molten cheese sauce that makes you want to stop everything and devour it right there and then. This is the point where you must channel all the self control you can muster and continue with the recipe.
Add the green sauce as per taste. The sauce will turn into a beautiful pastel green shade.
To this add 3/4th of the chopped spinach and cooked macaroni and combine.
The mac and cheese is good to go now but let’s take it one step further. Make sure that the sauce isn’t too thick. Add some milk to make it slightly runny if needed. Transfer everything into a baking dish.
Mix the chopped coriander into the spinach and add some grated cheddar in the same pot used to make the sauce. Mix everything so the residual sauce coats it.
Layer this mixture on top of the baking dish and bake at 175 C for 20 minutes.
The result is a gloriously creamy cheese sauce with notes of cumin, coriander and a hint of fresh spice from the green chillies.