For as long as I can remember, at least B.M. (Before Marriage), our family has always had this desi style macaroni for Sunday Brunch. I’m sure that when other people (read, not my family) hear or read the word “macaroni”, they automatically associate it with Mac-and-Cheese but my mom’s desi style preparation precedes any memory or association with M-n-C!
I’m not sure where in my family this tradition of Sunday Macaroni Brunch began, but I do know that my mom, maternal aunts, paternal aunts follow the same – whether they live in Delhi, other parts of India or even the USA. Each of these lovely ladies have their own twist to the recipe but, broadly, they all involve tomatoes, haldi and whole lot of garlic and dhania (cilantro leaves).
My Dad loves to have this preparation in a very soupy consistency, piled on to soft and fresh sliced white bread (un-toasted), with a dash of Tabasco. He doesn’t give the bread any time to get soggy and pretty much gulps the whole thing down before you can say “macaroni”! I prefer the consistency slightly less soupy and had over toasted dalia (broken wheat) or wheatgerm bread. I insist on the dash of Tabasco though.
AK, on the other hand, is not a fan of tomatoes. If he can tell that a whole lot of tomatoes have gone into a preparation, he won’t like it on principle. So he’s a bit lukewarm on this, but it hasn’t changed my love for it. Plus, my MIL joined us for brunch this past Sunday and loved it. So my faith in the universality of the dish has been reinforced.
It’s extremely quick and simple, not effort-intensive and full of flavour.
Here’s what I used for 4 servings:
1-1/2 cups macaroni
7-8 medium tomatoes
3-4 large or 7-8 small cloves of garlic, minced
4 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1/2 + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp (or more to taste) salt
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric)
3/4 + 1/4 cup (approx) loosely packed dhania (cilantro leaves)
Here’s how I made it:
Measured out the macaroni and placed 6 cup of water to boil, along with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil.
This pack of macaroni was a bit dated and is pretty cracked, but try and ignore that fact!
While the water came to a boil, I crushed the garlic and slit the green chillies.
Roughly chopped the tomatoes and pureed them in the mixie.
Heating 1 tbsp oil to heat in a saucepan, I added the garlic and fried it for about a minute until fragrant and slightly browned. Then I added the green chillies and haldi and fried for another 30 seconds.
Next, I added the tomato puree and 1/2 tsp salt and brought it to a boil.
Parallely, the water had boiled and I added the macaroni to it and set my timer for 6 minutes. Unlike western style pasta, we don’t want to cook this to the al dente stage. We just want to get the cooking process started. In my experience, the Indian brands of macaroni, available to us, cook fully in about 11-14 minutes.
Once the tomato puree had come to a boil, I reduced the heat slightly and cooked till a lot of the moisture had evaporated and the sauce became thick like this…
Once the 6 minutes of the macaroni were up, I took it off the heat and carefully ladled the macaroni and the boiling water into the tomato paste and increase the heat to maximum.
I allowed this to boil at maximum heat for about 5-6 minutes, or until the macaroni was fully cooked through and the liquid had reduced a little. I added 3/4 cup of dhania, stirred it in and turned off the heat – allowing it to sit for 5-7 minutes in the sauce and all the flavours to meld.
To serve, I toasted 2 slices of dalia bread and laid them on a plate. Ladling the macaroni with a healthy amount of the soupy-sauce on each slice, I finished it up with some additional dhania on top. I could hardly wait for the photograph to dig in to my favourite desi style macaroni!
PS – Another desi variation of macaroni is to boil it with oil and salt till al dente, and add it to stir fried onions, carrots, beans, cauliflower/ broccoli and flavoured with garlic, turmeric, cumin, chillies and dash of ketchup. This is a much drier recipe and something that I’ve seen many people (outside of my family) relish. But, for me, the tomato sauce version trumps it.
But don’t listen to me. Try both and decide for yourself!