Chef Preeti Mistry swaps sour cream for roux, adds spices galore, and tomato. This creamy gouda & cheddar tikka masala mac and cheese is made for now and leftovers.


8 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
1 3-inch [7.5-cm] cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon Indian red chile powder (Kashmiri chile powder)
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
One 6-ounce (170g) can tomato paste
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
1 cup (227g) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (170g) gouda cheese, coarsely grated (plus more for sprinkling on top, optional)
1 1/2 cups (170g) cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1/4 cup kosher salt, divided
1 pound (453g) uncooked elbow macaroni, shells, or other small shape


Step 1
Place the green and black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, and fenugreek seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring the spices, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the toasted spices to a clean coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground (or use a large mortar and pestle). Stir in the chile powder and set the mixture aside.

Step 2
Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it melts, add the ginger and garlic and cook until sizzling and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the reserved spice mixture, tomato paste, cream, and 1/2 cup (120ml) of water. Whisk everything together until the tomato paste dissolves. Let the mixture heat up until bubbles form around the edge, about 5 minutes, and then whisk in the sour cream, the cheddar cheese, and the gouda cheese. Cook, stirring now and then, until the cheeses melt and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with 2 teaspoons salt, decrease the heat to low, and keep the sauce warm.

Step 3
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season it generously with salt. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the cheese sauce and stir well to combine.

Step 4
Either serve right away (it will start very loose and deliciously creamy and thicken more as it sets, and as leftovers). Or, optionally, transfer the mixture to a broiler-safe baking dish. Heat your oven broiler. Top the pasta mixture with the additional grated gouda to taste and broil 3 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.