This Masala Penne Pasta is the first recipe I tried from my new cookbook An Affair with Indian Cooking and all I can say is that the recipe is super easy, the pasta is simply amazing, and this is definitely going to be one of my new "go to" pasta dishes. I agree with Geeta, author and family friend, who describes this recipe as an "Indian twist to the Italian baked Ziti."
Masala Penne Pasta (Mirchi Masala Pasta)
1lb cooked penne pasta
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 onion, large, finely chopped (I chopped the onions in a food processor)
2 1/2 cups tomatoes, strained (I chopped the tomatoes in a food processor)
2 tsp. garlic, crushed ( I used fresh garlic cloves and blended them with the onions)
1 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt to taste
1/2 cup coriander, fresh, finely chopped
3/4 cup water
1/2 pkt. cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
-Heat oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Temper with cumin seeds.
-When cumin seeds sizzle, add garlic and onions. Cook until onions are light brown and soft.
-Add tomatoes and spices. Stir well, cover pan, and reduce heat to med/low.
-Cook for appox 15-20 min, stir occasionally until mixture is thick in consistency and oil is separated.
-Add the fresh coriander and water. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
-Adjust seasoning to taste. (I added more salt, coriander, and red chili powder)
-Add the cream cheese, mix well, and cook for 10 min until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy.
-Remove from heat. Mix sauce with the pasta and pour into a casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake in over at 350 degrees F for 20 min or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
-Serve as an accompaniment with tandoori chicken and salad or as a meal in itself with garlic bread and salad.