Curried macaroni and cheese with buttermilk and dill

This twist on a traditional mac n' cheese is comfort food central. It's made with buttermilk and coconut to replace the dairy and add some tang. There's also a bit of Madras curry powder and cayenne for a kick of flavor. I developed it for all my single friends in need of something delicious, garlicky and worthy of devouring all by yourself to forget about that annoying holiday in February that no one actually likes that much. As is the theme these days, it's also a mashup of my family's ethnic makeup, with a bit of American made better with some Indian spice. I hope you can make it and enjoy.


For the breadcrumb topping
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the macaroni and sauce
Kosher salt, plus more
1 pound dried elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 13-ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
3 cups extra-sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 cup pecorino, grated
4 sprigs dill, chopped


Heat the oven to 375°F with rack in the middle of oven.

For the topping

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, warm the butter and coconut oil until the butter melts and just starts to brown. Add the panko, garlic, curry powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the crumbs are toasted and golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, stir in the Pecorino and salt, and set aside.

For the macaroni

Set a large, covered pot of salted water over high heat to boil. Add the macaroni and cook until just al dente. Drain macaroni and set aside.

In the same cast iron pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over butter, whisking to incorporate and make a roux. Cook, stirring with whisk, until the roux is light golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Gradually pour in the buttermilk and coconut milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer, keep whisking, and cook until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, pepper, mustard powder., curry powder and cayenne and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cheeses in batches, whisking until new addition is completely melted before adding more. Turn off the heat and stir in the dill.

Add the drained macaroni to the pan with the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Taste for salt, and add more if needed. Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping evenly over the macaroni, transfer the pan to the oven, and bake until golden and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool before serving, garnish with a little fresh dill and treat yourself.