This one-pot Masala Macaroni has macaroni flavored with Indian spices. It’s spicy, packed with flavors, made in the Instant Pot and makes a great, easy meal for busy days. This was something that I would take in my lunch boxes during my high school years.
Back then, pasta had recently become popular in India and so we would demand pasta in our lunch boxes. My house help in India would make this masala macaroni aka Indian style Macaroni. Sometimes he would pack the masala macaroni as such in our lunch-boxes and at other times, he would mix it with some rice. It made for a very filling and delicious lunch. We used to love it and I remember my lunch box always came back home empty when I had this macaroni in my lunch box.
I apologize to all my Italian readers but this is how we started eating pasta in India at my house back in the 90s or very early 2000s. I totally understand that there’s nothing “pasta” about this remotely but this recipe has been heavily adapted to Indian palate and flavors.
I love giving Indian spin to pastas like this paneer lasagna or masala gnocchi. This masala macaroni is something I grew up eating and have fond memories associated with it. While the macaroni was made on the stove-top in my house (and yes I will be honest that I love the stove-top version more since the veggies remain crunchy there), I adapted it to cook in my Instant Pot.
The Masala Macaroni in Instant Pot is a quick and easy meal and has so much flavor going on. Making pasta in Instant Pot is a breeze (like this creamy tomato basil pasta) and this is no exception.
Elbow macaroni pasta: for this recipe, I have used the regular elbow macaroni, these can definitely come in different sizes, I use the really small ones.
Veggies: I have used onions, tomatoes, peppers since this is what was used in my house but you can also use peas, carrots etc.
Spices: I have only used garam masala and red chili powder but you can also use turmeric and coriander powder. Sometimes, I also add dried herbs like oregano or Italian seasoning.
Tomato ketchup: this is one ingredient which my house help always added to the macaroni so definitely don’t skip this.
Step by Step Instructions
1- Press the sauté button on your instant pot. Once it displays hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil (I used avocado oil but you can use any oil of choice).
2- Then add the following:
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 medium green pepper, chopped
- 1 medium red pepper, chopped
Cook the onions and peppers for 2 minutes.
3- Then add 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste and 1 chopped green chili (add more or less depending on taste). Cook for 1 minute.
4- Add 1 & 1/2 chopped tomatoes, the tomatoes I used were a little big so I used 1 & 1/2, but you can use 2 tomatoes if your tomatoes are small in size. Cook for 1 minute.
5-Add the spices
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/8 teaspoon red chili powder (or to taste)
Mix to combine, cook for 30 seconds. You can also add 1 teaspoon of oregano or Italian seasoning at this point if you wish.
6- Add 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta and mix it with the masala.
7- Add 1 & 1/2 cups water along with 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
8- Then add 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup on top. Do not stir.
9- Close the lid and press the manual or pressure cook button.
10- Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Do a quick pressure release. For a softer macaroni, you can let the pressure release naturally for 2 minutes and then do the quick pressure release.
11- Open the pot and give it a good mix. If the macaroni looks like it has a little extra water, you can press the sauté button and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Remember it will continue to become drier as it cools down. You can also add some grated cheese at this point if you wish, I skipped it.
12- Add 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro. Serve hot and enjoy this Desi Macaroni!
Using Different Pasta Shapes
You can make this recipe with other pasta shapes as well, like penne, bow tie. I will increase the cooking time by 1 minute in that case.
To make this masala macaroni on the stove-top, boil the pasta first. Once the pasta is boiled, drain it (reserve a few tablespoons of water) and toss with little oil. In a pan add the oil, then add the onion, peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 minute. Add in the tomato and cook for 1 minute, then add in the spices and mix everything. Add the tomato ketchup, salt and pepper and mix. Stir in the boiled pasta and mix until everything is well combined. If the pasta looks too dry, you can add some of that reserved pasta water. Add cilantro and serve. You can also add some cheese if you like.
- You can definitely make this recipe with whole wheat macaroni. The cooking time should remain the same.
- To make the masala macaroni spicier, add some hot sauce, say 1 to 2 teaspoons along with the tomato ketchup.
- Sometimes, I also add cheese to this recipe. Cheddar or mozzarella cheese both go well.
- If you want the veggies to be crunchy, chop your bell peppers fine. Then once the pressure cooking is done, open the pot and press the sauté button. Add in the peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. They would cook a little and yet remain crunchy. You can also add carrots or broccoli at this point.
- If you are making this recipe in an 8qt Instant Pot, you might want to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra water. Since I don’t have a 8qt, I haven’t tested this recipe in that particular model.
More Italian-Indian Fusion Recipes
- The Paneer and Vegetable Lasagna has been a reader’s favorite ever since I first shared it. You guys have made it for Diwali, Christmas and it always is a winner.
- Masala Gnocchi is the perfect meal for date nights. It’s easy to put together and packs a punch!
- You can’t beat the ease of one-pot pasta, so for those busy days, try this Instant Pot Makhani Pasta, and as a bonus it is also vegan!
- Inspired from the classic eggplant rollatini, these Paneer Eggplant Rolls are lighter on tummy but quite high on flavors.
- 2 tablespoons oil I used avocado oil, 30 ml
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium green pepper chopped
- 1 medium red pepper chopped
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 green chili chopped
- 1 & 1/2 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or adjust to taste
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 1 & 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Press the sauté button on your instant pot. Once it displays hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Then add the chopped onion and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes until the onions are softened.
- Then add the ginger garlic paste and the chopped green chili and cook for 1 minute. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute.
- Then add the garam masala and red chili powder. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. You can also add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano or Italian seasoning at this point (optional).
- Add the dried elbow macaroni and mix it with the masala. Add 1 & 1/2 cups water, press the paste below the water surface using a spatula. Add the salt and black pepper.
- Then add 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup on top. Do not stir. Close the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 4 minutes with the pressure valve in sealing position. Once 4 minutes are up, do a quick pressure release (or wait 2 minutes and then do a quick pressure release for a softer pasta).
- Open the pot and give a good mix. If the macaroni looks like it has a little extra water, you can press the sauté button and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Remember it will continue to become drier as it cools down. You can also add some grated cheese at this point if you wish.Add chopped cilantro. Serve hot and enjoy this Indian style Desi Macaroni!
- Refer to the “Notes” section in the post for instructions on how to cook this recipe on stove-top.
- Adding grated cheese like cheddar cheese towards the end will enhance the flavors. I do add it sometimes!