Updated: Jul 3
Macaroni pasta made the Indian way. While we are known to Indianise everything - Paneer Tikka Pizza, anyone? This concoction right here is a dish we used to make even before we knew what pizza was.
It is a dish that a lot of Sindhis make and something I grew up eating as a kid, till I found real pasta and started to appreciate its finer nuances and flavors rather than the robust dish this one is. I am not sure who came up with this invention in the first place. I was reading this article written by the famous Sindhi Food Blogger ‘Alka Keswani,’ where she mentions the possibility of some Sindhi businessman picking up a packet of Macaroni when away on a work trip to America or Europe and got it home. Since most Indians don’t like the pure flavors of pasta, an ingenious housewife probably made it into Indian curry, and then it just became a thing.
The archaeologist Dr. Krush Dalal told me that he thinks it’s part of the refugee food aid. Since various staples were being provided at the time of partition, as the Sindhis in India came from Sindh, which is now in Pakistan, most of them resided in Ulhasnagar in camps. There is a possibility that they were given some foreign aid and a packet of pasta, or a few may have sneaked in due to its long shelf life.
He also mentioned that a lot of Punjabis migrants were provided with bread, and they made halwa with it. Today it is a very bittersweet memory of partition. Perhaps this is one such vestigial recipe of how they learner to use something provided to them in a way they were comfortable. Since my grandparents came to India during those tumultuous times and resided in Ulhasnagar where I grew up, I find Dr. Dalal’s theory closer to my heart.
Well, I guess whatever it was – a product of partition or a smart businessman returning home from abroad, this dish has been ‘Desified’ or ‘Sindhified’ and here to stay. Especially in these trying times when one is worried about groceries and rationing everything we eat, a packet of dry pasta has produced three full-blown meals between 5 people, which I think is a sensible way to eat at the moment.
I have listed the recipe below for you if you are not a Pasta aficionado and are willing to give it a try.
1 cup Macaroni Pasta
2 medium-sized Onions finely chopped
3 Tomatoes, pureed
2 large Potatoes cubed
2 Teaspoons Ginger Garlic paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli powder (you can use more if you want it spicy)
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add bay leaves, cumin seeds & ginger garlic paste.
Add the chopped onions and saute till translucent. Now add the tomatoes and cook till the water starts to separate.
Drain the water from the potatoes and add it in the tomato & onion mix along with all the spices and cook for 5 minutes till the potatoes are coated well in the masala.
Add water and pressure cook for 3 whistles till the potatoes are half done. Open the pressure cooker after the pressure is released and add the dry Macaroni in the pressure cooker. Cover and give two more whistles.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve with hot Rotis. Enjoy.
You can make this in a pan, but the cooking time will increase. The key is to ensure that the pasta holds the shape. If you cook the pasta for a very long time, it will be a stodgy mess.
The gravy of this dish is thick and not too watery, so try and not go overboard with the water.
You can substitute the Potatoes with Peas as well, but then, in that case, you need to cook the Peas and Pasta together.