Grandma Todiwala’s macaroni and cauliflower cheese


EASTERN EYE asked celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala to give a recipe for Ramadan.

He said: “This was mum’s all-time favourite dinner for us when we
were kids. It goes back to when the first pasta was introduced to the British public and promptly found its way to India, and into the clubs of the Raj. Like most Indians, I grew up eating overboiled pasta. It was not until my European training back in 1980 that I realised we had
been cooking it all wrong – but in those days if you cooked pasta al dente it was sent back to you. Mum’s macaroni was cooked until it split, but hey, the fun was in the sauce and her awesome magic with taste.”

Serves four to five
Ingredients:
Water 1 litre (13/4 pints)
Cauliflower florets 300g (101/ 2oz), (save the stems and trimmings)
Dried macaroni 300g (101/ 2oz)
Butter, 2 heaped tablespoons, plus extra for greasing
Cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon
Plain flour, 4 tablespoons, sifted
Whole milk 400ml (14floz)
Fresh green chillies 2–3 finger type, finely chopped
Red chilli powder a pinch
Cheddar 200–300g (7–101/ 2oz), grated
Hot English mustard, 3–4 teaspoons
Chopped fresh coriander, 1 heaped tablespoon
Fresh breadcrumbs, 3–4 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Bring the water to the boil in a pan. n Add a little salt and boil the florets for four to five minutes at most.

Remove with a slotted spoon, refresh under cold water in a bowl and then drain it.

To the same pan, add the macaroni and cook according to the packet instructions. Remove with a slotted spoon, refresh under cold water and drain. Mix with the cauliflower.

Add the cauliflower trimmings and stems to the water and cook for five minutes until very soft. Blitz the cauliflower and some of the water to a purée. You need to have about 250–300ml (81/2–10floz).

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ Gas Mark 6. Generously grease the inside of the baking dish with butter.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the cumin seeds. Heat for 30 seconds and then take off the heat. Add the flour and stir in well. Whisk in the milk and some of the puréed cauliflower until well blended.

Return the saucepan to the heat and stir well but gently with the whisk.

From time to time, scrape with a spatula to ensure it is not sticking to the bottom. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, adding more puréed cauliflower if needed, until it is the consistency of white sauce. Add the green chilli, chilli powder and seasoning.

Stir half the cheese into the sauce and mix until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Take off the heat and add the mustard, macaroni and cauliflower to the sauce and mix well but gently. Add the coriander and check that everything is well coated in the sauce – if needed, add some more purée to it.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Combine the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. Bake for about 15–20 minutes until the topping is golden and  crisp. Serve immediately.

Notes: You can also use green peas, potatoes, carrot or broccoli, but there is nothing quite like using just cauliflower for its unique taste and flavour.

Simple Spice Vegetarian by Cyrus Todiwala, published by Mitchell Beazley £20
www.octopusbooks.co.uk