I usually make my casseroles truly “Western-style” – full of ground meats, dried herbs like oregano, thyme and parsley, and a lot of cheese. A while back Kak’mbang asked me to try making baked macaroni casserole “Malay-style,” which uses common local spices and eggs as the primary binding agent. Every now and then I’d surf the net for recipe ideas, but nothing really caught my fancy. In fact, honestly I disliked many of the ones I’ve tried before. Either the spices were overpowering, or folks would add really strange stuff like chili sauce and mayo to the casserole. Nnno.
Last year, a week before Aidilfitri celebrations we visited Mak Long (Rudy’s aunt) for buka puasa. She made her legendary nasi ulam, which was amazing and desperately needs to be immortalized in these pages at some point…
…but I digress. After a huge meal for breaking fast, while beaching myself like a whale on the couch I browsed through Mak Long’s cookbooks, and chanced upon her handwritten cookbook. This was her own personal collection of recipes tried and tested through years of experience in the kitchen. I immediately tossed the other books aside and began flipping through the pages. So many recipes looked interesting, and I snapped as many photos of these pages using my phone. This baked macaroni casserole was one of the recipes I captured.
Mak Long did not disappoint. This casserole is full of yummy meat and vegetables, and uses just the right balance of cheese and egg so that it’s not too rich. My family devoured it. A wonderful one-pot meal, perfect for potlucks or to be made-ahead for weeknight dinners. Do give it a try and enjoy!
Thanks Mak Long!
Mak Long’s Baked Macaroni Casserole (Makaroni Bakar)
- 500 grams elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 cloves garlic
- 3 shallots
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel (jintan manis)
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 500 grams minced beef or chicken
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 1/2 carrot, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 eggs
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 8 slices cheddar cheese
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced crosswise
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C (160 degrees fan).
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the macaroni until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Set aside.
In a blender or a grinder, add the garlic, shallots, ginger, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and nutmeg powder with a few tablespoons of water, and blitz into a fine paste.
In a pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
Add the minced meat, onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, curry powder and salt, and cook, stirring, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs with the flour until smooth.
Add the egg mixture and macaroni mixture to the pan, and stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour the mixture into a deep 9 x 13-inch pan (it will be quite a tight fit, so pack it in). Arrange the cheese slices and tomatoes on top. Pour 2 beaten eggs evenly over the dish.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, then increase the temperature to 200 degrees C (180 degrees fan) and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden on top. Serve warm.