Curry Is The Spicy Kick Your Mac And Cheese Has Been Lacking

Whether you're pouring an envelope of neon cheese-y flavoring over instant noodles (no judgment) or making a gourmet five-cheese concoction, you just can't beat oodles of soft noodles and comforting cheese sauce — no matter how you slice. From high-end restaurant menus to kid's staple dinners and everything in between, mac and cheese is synonymous with American cuisine. There are plenty of ways to dress up the standard mac and cheese, but one hack you may not have thought of comes from adding curry powder.

It's a departure from the standard spices used in macaroni — which is typically seasoned mildly save for a dash of salt, pepper, or garlic powder. But once you try adding warm, fragrant curry powder to your next mac and cheese, you won't look back. And you don't need much to impart a mild but complex depth of warmth and spice; try adding one to two teaspoons of curry powder to your cheese sauce before pouring over the noodles. You can always add more.

Experiment with cheese and spice combos for varying heat levels

Curry powder, not to be confused with garam masala, doesn't refer to one curry spice but a blend. And despite what you might think, curry powder is not native to traditional Indian cooking. The British colonists invented curry powder in the 1700s to create, at home in Europe, the dishes they enjoyed in India. Typically the golden-orange blend includes turmeric, cumin, ginger, and black pepper, and potentially garlic, cinnamon, and cloves depending on the brand you grab. 

When spicing up your cheese sauce, you can use traditional staples like a sharp cheddar, which pairs well with curry's kick and fragrance. Or, to offset the complex earthy flavors of your curry powder, try using a creamy gouda or colby cheese. Can't get enough heat? Crank it up by adding spicier cheese like pepper Jack to the mix. No two curry powders are the same, so if you're looking to stay on the sweet and nutty side, opt for a milder one like a bright yellow Madras curry powder, made typically with tamer peppers. Want to crank up the temp? Look for curry powders marked as spicy, or containing serious scorchers like dried bird's eye or chili peppers. Or for the ultimate fresh flavor to add to cheese sauce, make your own blend.