My mother’s family originate from Mauritius, so naturally we grew up loving spice and the island’s cuisine. My mum is British but would often incorporate a Mauritian twist into our staple weekday meals, from when we were very young.
Macaroni Cheese was one of mum’s classics and friends would demand it whenever they came to play. I remember my best friend at the time Riah, eating 9 helpings of it one day! She also makes an amazing Mauritian version of macaroni cheese which contains cheese but not the traditional creamy sauce. Instead, she reduces onions and tomatoes in oil until super sweet and silky to create a luscious sauce which is then and spiked with fresh thyme.
As you have probably guessed the chicken was my least favourite part of the dish but, I just couldn’t get enough of that velvety sauce because it is so unlike the common creamy american or silky italian sauce. I have captured the cheesiness perfectly using marmite and nutritional yeast. Don’t worry if you are a marmite hater you can’t taste it at all in the dish it just adds a salty nuttiness. This grassy savouriness is complemented perfectly by the sweet onions and cherry toms and what finishes this dish is the vital ingredient, of LOADS of fresh thyme!!!
I substitute white kidney beans in place of chicken as they have a perfect soft texture but retain a little bite. I prefer them to purple kidney beans which are more tough and I find they overwhelm and retracts you from the amazingly, plush sauce.
This is the perfect summer dish as it’s quick to whip up, and uses lots of fresh tomatoes which contain minerals that protect our skin from the sun’s rays so they are great to eat if you are bit sun burnt. A simple green salad would go perfectly along side this little plate of Mauritius. Enjoy the sun!!!
(This recipe serves 4)
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 onions (sliced)
- 400g cherry tomatoes (slice into 1/4 or 1/6 if you can)
- 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 2 tsp ground fenugreek
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tsp tomato puree
- pinch of chilli flakes to taste
- tsp marmite
- 4 tsp nutritional yeast
- 400g tin of white kidney beans (drained) butter , borlotti and haricot could also be substituted.
- 280g pasta (I like to use spelt, brown or wholewheat)
1. In a large pan cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Meanwhile in a large frying pan heat up the oil and then reduce the heat to low and add the onions, tomatoes along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow them to soften, this should take about 10 minutes. You want the onions to be translucent and for the tomatoes to have released all their juices and the skins to be soft.
2. Next add the garlic, fenugreek and thyme and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Then add the puree, chilli, marmite, nutritional yeast and drained beans. Allow these to warm and for the flavours to amalgamate for another 3-5 minutes. At this point check if you want to top up on any of the flavours and seasoning.
3. Drain the pasta but reserve a cup of the pasta water. Stir the sauce into the pasta and add some of the cooking liquid to loosen the sauce and make it more silky and smooth. Divide among four warm plates and serve with a green salad in the sun!