Macaroni and Potato sabzi – yes, you read it. 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.
Renowned archaeologist Dr. Krush Dalal told me that in his personal view this dish is a part of the refugee food aid. A large population of Sindhis came to India came from Sindh, which is now in Pakistan, most of them residing in Ulhasnagar in camps. There is a possibility that they were given some foreign aid & food 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 Punjabi 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.
Another friend whose, expertise and knowledge in the culinary realms I highly regard also told me that Sindhis living in Dubai claim to be the inventors of this dish in the early 60s or 70s. This is another version that could also very well be true because we know that Sindhis love their food and are a community that has traveled around the globe and set up their homes and carried their culinary traditions and made this dish their own.
Well, I guess whatever it was – a product of partition or a smart businessman returning home from abroad or a community now calling another country home, this dish has been ‘Desified’ or ‘Sindhified’ & 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 anyways.
I have listed the recipe below for you if you are not a Pasta aficionado and are willing to give it a try.
Macaroni & Potatoes (Serves 5 – Cooking time 45 minutes)
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
Salt to taste
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.
Add the potatoes 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.
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 lose all shape.
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.