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Masala Mac and Cheese (no cream, no half and half, gluten-free option)

Vegetarian, Lightened Up, Whole-Wheat option, Gluten-Free option
Gooey, creamy, and delicious Masala Mac and Cheese with an Indian twist. This Indian Mac and Cheese is made with no cream, no half and half.
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course, Sides
Cuisine American, Indian-Inspired
Servings 5 servings
Calories 799 kcal



  • pot of boiling hot water, season well with salt
  • 1 pound medium shells pasta, whole wheat or gluten-free will work

Make the Sauce

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 serrano chili, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1 clove
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder, cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp white flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated, for sauce
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated, for sauce

Topping & Garnish

  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1-2 tbsp plain bread crumbs, or panko
  • sliced serrano chilies
  • small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped



  • Fill a large pot with water and heat up. This is for the pasta.
  • Chop the ginger, garlic, green chilies, and onion.
  • Chop the red and green bell peppers.

Make the Sauce

  • Heat up a dutch castiron on medium heat, once hot, add oil followed by the ginger, garlic and green chilies. Saute for about 30 seconds.
  • Add onions and saute for 3 minutes.
  • Now add the red and green bell peppers. Season with salt. Stir well. Saute for about 4-5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder grind your spices - cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom and fennel seeds.
  • This is what you should have.
  • Add the grinded spices, along with turmeric, coriander powder, and red chili powder. Cook for about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomato paste.
  • Saute for about 3 minutes.
  • Now add 2 tbsp of butter.
  • Once the butter melts, add the flour.
  • Cook the flour and butter for about 2 minutes to form a roux. This will help thicken the sauce.
  • Now, SLOWLY pour the milk little by little. Do not add all the cold milk at once else your sauce will curdle.
  • Note how the sauce is getting thick. Reduce heat to very low.
  • In the meantime, season the boiling hot water with salt and cook the shells until al dente.
  • Here is your sauce. Make sure your heat is on very low. Let the sauce heat up on very low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • While the sauce heats up (not boil) grate the cheese. I used Gruyere and White Cheddar.
  • Add the cheese little by little to the sauce. Do not add the cold cheese at once to the hot sauce. Make sure your heat is very low.
  • Cook the sauce for a few minutes until nice and hot. Sauce is ready.
  • Drain the pasta.

Assemble the Mac & Cheese

  • Add the pasta to the cheese sauce.
  • Transfer the pasta to a baking dish or a castiron skillet. Alternatively, you may enjoy mac and cheese without baking this dish.
  • Top with 1 cup of cheese - equal parts of Gruyere and White Cheddar.
  • Also top with plain bread crumbs and sliced serrano chilies for garnish.
  • Broil for 10 minutes. Start watching it closely after 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Serve hot!


  • for gluten-free, choose a gluten-free shell pasta and GF bread crumbs.
  • for whole wheat option, choose a whole wheat shell pasta and WW bread crumbs.


Calories: 799kcalCarbohydrates: 75gProtein: 37gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 527mgPotassium: 473mgFiber: 9gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 1842IUVitamin C: 31mgCalcium: 812mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Casserole, Mac and Cheese, Pasta
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