Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Basil Crumb Topping

Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Basil Crumb Topping

“Mac n Cheese”, as popularly known to many, it’s amazing how this traditionally English delight can be relished in so many fascinating styles n flavours!

An absolute no-brainer when it comes to kids…it’s a super easy and quick fix even for those last minute decisions and surprisingly with so few ingredients!

This recipe is layered with a ‘Basil crumble ‘coz I could lay my hands on some, however, you can keep it as basic with simply bread crumbs. Venture with “mushrooms” or throw in those “veggies” or “meat” if you like. Those who have access to “truffle oil”, it’s a great flavour enhancer and gaining increasing patronage in the culinary corridors of the world!

Tip: Using a sharp cheddar cheese works best in case available in your homes or vicinity at these unusual times!


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Course Main Course
Servings 2 – 3 persons
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes

Ingredients for Mac ‘n’ Cheese

(1 cup = 200 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml)

2½  cups Macaroni
3 – 3½  cups Milk
1 cup Mature cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup Fresh Parmesan, grated
3 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Flour (maida)
1 cup Fresh cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
Salt to taste
1 Onion, sliced
2 – 3 Bay leaves

Ingredients for the Basil Crumb Topping

(1 cup = 200 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml) 

3 – 4 Slices of white or brown bread (preferably the sides of the loaf)
6 – 8 Basil leaves
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Olive oil

Instructions for the Mac ‘n’ Cheese

1. Bring salted water to boil in a vessel. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the milk along with the sliced onion and bay leaves. Simmer on low heat for 8 – 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Strain the milk. Discard the onion and bay leaves (you can use them in making some Indian veg gravy).

3. Melt butter in a pan over low heat, add flour and stir together to make a roux. Gradually add in the strained milk, stir continuously with a whisk to avoid it becoming lumpy.

4. Stir in both the cheeses, which will melt and thicken the sauce. Add in the cream. Season with salt. (if you feel sauce is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out).

5. Add in the mustard sauce, if using.

Instructions for Basil Crump Topping

1. Toast the bread slices in the oven until crisp.
2. In a food processor, put in the toasted bread, basil leaves and garlic and blend together. The mix should be coarse, not too fine. Keep aside.

Instructions to Assemble

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C (Fan) or 190°C. in a normal oven. (Its important to preheat always).
2. Mix the macaroni with the cheese sauce in spread in an oven-proof dish or a cast iron skillet.

3. Cover with bread crumbs. Drizzle olive oil over the bread crumbs generously.

4. Bake for 20 minutes and serve immediately.


1. Its best to mix the macaroni with sauce at the time of baking. And once baked, should be served immediately. The pasta, if mixed early, would dry out the sauce. In case of party, you can make the sauce, crumb and boil macaroni early and keep aside.
2. Always use the sharp mature cheddar cheese. This is the key to a good Mac ‘n’ Cheese. However, in Indore, due to lockdown, I’ve managed to use  Kraft Cheddar, hence I’ve added a little mustard to add the tartness. You can avoid the mustard, its optional
3. Please feel free to add in sautéd mushrooms to the cheese sauce. In that case please don’t add mustard to the sauce. Add a spoon of truffle oil. Also don’t add in basil in the crumb. After baking drizzle truffle oil. That makes a good truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese .
4. You could even do a variation with caramelised onion and sundried tomatoes with the basil crumb topping.
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