Tag Archive for comfort food

Indian-Spiced Mac & Cheese

Comfort food, thy name is noodles.

Here in Vancouver, the forecast is nothing but clouds with raindrops for the next 7 days. It just doesn’t stop. When it’s deluging enough so that your thoughts turn to building an ark, it’s time for noodles.

It’s always been amusing to me that noodles are universal comfort food. The Jewish have Kugel, the Germans have Spezle, the Italians have pasta, and Asia has ramen, udon, pho…

When it rains like this, I want two things: warmth, carbs, and spice. I often crave Laksa, ramen or Tom Yum Soup.

Indian Mac and Cheese

I recently had this amazing dish called Bombay Mac and Cheese at this local Vancouver place called The Noodlebox. It was recommended to me, and I have to say, as soon as I tried it, I became obsessed with reverse-engineering the recipe.

The idea is that it’s basically what you would expect mac and cheese to taste like if you ordered it in India. Now, I’m pretty sure mac and cheese doesn’t really exist in India, so this is definitely a fusion (kind of like butter chicken pizza).

Instead of cheese, this recipe uses chunks of paneer, and coconut milk instead of the butter-milk-flour roux. It also comes with a wollop of Indian spices: turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, chilli, and garam masala.

The end result, Indian-Spiced Mac & Cheese, is creamy, spicy and very comforting.

Indian Spiced Mac and Cheese

Indian-Spiced Mac & Cheese


  • 1″ thumb of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 bird’s eye or Thai red chili
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 smallish onion or 1/2 a large one, diced
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 450 g macaroni
  • 1 package paneer, cut into 1″ squares
  • 1 400 g package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out
  • garnishes: chopped fresh tomato and chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Begin by creating the spice blend. In a small frying pan over medium-low heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds. Be careful to watch them so they do not burn.
  2. Meanwhile, rough chop the garlic, ginger and chili together. Place the garlic, ginger, chili, cumin, coriander and 1 tsp of salt into a spice grinder and blend until a fine paste.
  3. Bring a medium pot full of well-salted water to a boil and then add the macaroni. Stir well and allow to cook until almost done, about 7 minutes. Drain.
  4. In a large pot on the stove over medium heat, drizzle some oil or a combo of oil and butter. If you want to be super authentic, you should use a couple tablespoons of ghee. When the oil is warm, add the onion, stir well, and allow to saute until they begin to get soft, about 5 minutes. Now add the spice mixture and stir it well to combine. Allow to cook out for another 5 minutes or so. Now you can add the other dry spices by sprinkling them overtop and then mix them in well. Finally, add the tomato paste and stir well. Allow to cook down for another minute or two.
  5. Open the cans of coconut milk and add them to the pot. Stir everything well and allow to cook and meld together for a few minutes, then add in the pasta. Toss everything well together.
  6. Now add in the paneer and the spinach, and stir well. The Paneer won’t melt, it will remain in chunks. Taste and for seasoning and adjust. You can add extra salt and pepper if needed. The final texture of the dish should still be a bit runny and saucy. The starch in the pasta will suck up extra moisture and thicken the sauce.
  7. Spoon into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and chopped tomato.


Cauliflower Gnocchi


Humble. Hearty. Arguably–bland. And yet, at the same time, the hottest vegetable around these days.

You can blame the Paleo-Keto-ists. Or the vegetarians. Or the Vegans. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Cauliflower is hot.

Cauliflower Gnocchi

From Cauliflower mash replacing mashed potatoes, to pizza crusts, “steaks,” “wings” and more…

Cauliflower gnocchi is something I’ve been curious about for a while. I mean, I love gnocchi. I make it all the time, and this time of the year, I mostly make it from yams or squash. It’s become one of those things I’m finally starting to get the hang of, and not need to look up a recipe for.

I was entranced by Amanda Cohen’s appearance recently on Iron Chef Canada. Her vegetarian NYC restaurant, Dirt Candy, is now on my bucket list. They do, it’s said, a Cauliflower and Waffles that is to die for.

On Iron Chef, the secret ingredient was… wait for it… Cauliflower! And one of the dishes Chef Cohen made was Cauliflower Gnocchi.

I tried to do this one gluten free, but was unable to make it work. I’ll experiment some more and perhaps come back to you with a gluten-free version.

I was most impressed by the texture of this gnocchi. It’s pillowy and soft in the middle, but because you finish it in a frying pan, it has a nice crispy edge. It needs very little accompaniment. I serve mine tossed in a little pesto, with a grating of parmesan.Gnocchi

Cauliflower Gnocchi


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • additional parmesan cheese


  1. Start by removing the outer leaves from the cauliflower. Cut out the core and separate into florets.
  2. Place half the florets into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is coarsely ground and resembles rice. Remove to a bowl and repeat for the second batch.
  3. Add a couple tablespoons of water to the bowl of cauliflower rice and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir, and microwave for another 5 minutes. If you don’t have a microwave, spread it in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray, and bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove and allow to cool enough so you can handle it.
  5. Place the cauliflower rice in a kitchen towel or a cheesecloth, and begin to squeeze the water out of it. Continue until you get as much moisture out of the cauliflower as possible.
  6. Place the cauliflower back in the bowl and add the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir well to combine.
  7. Now add the 2 tbsp of corn starch and 1/2 cup of flour, and stir to combine. Continue adding 1/2 cup of flour at a time until your dough is the right consistency. You’ll need to turn it out onto a board to knead it. The final consistency should be still a little tacky, but it shouldn’t be gooing up all over your hands. You may not need the entire 2 cups of flour, or you may need a bit more, depending on the wetness of your cauliflower.
  8. Once the dough is the right texture, place it back in the bowl and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the fridge and divide in half. Roll each half out into a long rope, then using a bench scraper or a butter knife, chop off 1″ chunks.
  10. Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop the individual gnocchi into the pot one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You’ll need to work in batches. Mine took four batches. Stir the gnocchi well once they are all in the pot. You know they are done when they rise to the top, about 4-5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon or spider, and allow to drain.
  12. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil and an equal amount of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add your gnocchi to it, and allow to brown a little on the outside, stirring occasionally. Add more oil if needed. Stir in a couple tablespoons of pesto and toss well to combine.
  13. Plate the gnocchi with a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of parmesan cheese.
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