Say Hello to Masala Pasta! Italian Pasta meets the Indian Masala to create a delicious & amazing Indo-Italian dish, “Masala Pasta”. Whole wheat penne, mixed vegetables, onions, tomatoes, Indian spices and herbs transform to a fast, flavorsome & delicious meal that you can whip up under 30 minutes. In this post I share a basic recipe that is vegan. But you can easily give a flavor twist with my tried & tested latest tips. Make it umami, creamy, cheesy, or meaty with my pro tips below.
About Masala Pasta
Masala Pasta is an Indian-Italian fusion dish that may have originated on the streets of India, selling it as a street food. Not a traditional dish but it has been a favorite & made in almost every Indian home, especially with kids.
Surprisingly you see a lot of Moms customizing it their own way to suit the kids’ taste buds.
That being said, Masala pasta can be eaten by everyone – kids & grown-ups! This Indian style flavorful & delicious masala pasta will be your new favorite! Because you can make it however you like – spicy, less-spicy but flavorsome, creamy, or meaty.
This dish makes for a comforting weeknight dinner & can also be taken in the school box for lunch. It can also be cooked ahead, cooled and refrigerated for 2 days. Reheat it with a splash of water on the stovetop or in the Instant pot.
I first published this recipe in 2013. Fast forward, in 2022, I have updated it to a more flavorsome & saucy dish.
Pasta: For this recipe we prefer Penne, Macaroni, Fusilli, Rigatoni & Elbow. You may also use spaghetti or other kinds too. If making for toddlers, use macaroni or baby pasta as it is easy to handle.
I use organic pasta made with durum wheat & sometimes brown rice pasta. Quinoa pasta or any multigrain pasta also goes well in this recipe. You just need to adjust the cooking time.
For this recipe I use 1½ cups penne pasta which I boil with 1 teaspoon salt & a few drops of oil.
Mixed vegetables: Carrots, peas & bell peppers are the veggies I often use. Veggies like sweet corn, baby corn, mushrooms & broccoli also go well. To save some chopping & cooking time you can also use frozen pre-cut veggies (carrots, peas & beans).
Tomatoes: are the key ingredient in this dish. Use ripe tomatoes that don’t taste too sour. Fresh tomatoes or bottled tomato puree like passata go well.
How to Make Masala Pasta (Stepwise Photos)
1. Fine chop 1 medium onion (½ cup), 2 medium tomatoes (1¼ cup deseeded & chopped or 1 cup pureed). I use 1 cup pureed tomatoes. Grate or mince 2 to 3 garlic cloves & ½ inch ginger to make 1½ to 2 teaspoons ginger garlic.
2. Peel & chop 1 medium carrot (½ cup) & ¼ cup bell peppers. I also use ¼ cup green peas & 2 tablespoons tender/young sweet corn. If you don’t prefer veggies in your masala pasta you may simply skip all of these.
3. You will also need
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red chilli powder (for a spicy version use up to 1¼ tsp)
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
I also use an additional ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder & fennel powder. If you want you may use, they are optional. 1 to 1½ tablespoons tomato ketchup or 2 tablespoons passata or 1 tsp tomato paste (optional). This adds umami flavor to your masala pasta.
4. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large pot. When the water begins to boil, add 1 teaspoon salt, 1½ cups pasta & 1 tsp oil (optional).
5. Cook the pasta al dente on a medium flame. Pasta should be soft yet cooked but not chewy. Refer the package for exact cook time as each brand has a different cook time. Roughly you will boil for 8 to 9 mins.
6. Once done drain the pasta to a colander. Save/ reserve ¾ cup pasta cooked water before draining. You can use this towards the end to bring the pasta to consistency.
Make Masala for Pasta
7. Heat 1½ tablespoons oil & 1½ tablespoon butter (optional) in a pan. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add garlic & ginger. Fry for a minute.
8. Add the chopped onions and fry until they turn golden.
9. Add the chopped vegetable and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
10. Stir in the salt & spices – red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric (optional). If you want you can also add cumin and fennel powder.
11. Add tomatoes & tomato ketchup or passata or tomato paste.
12. Mix and cook on a medium to medium-high heat until the masala begins to smell good or release oil. Make sure the smell of uncooked tomatoes is gone & your veggies are cooked through. If not, reduce the heat and cook on a low heat until the veggies are tender.
14. Pour ¼ to ½ cup water or pasta cooked water or stock. I used ½ cup. Mix well.
15. Cook until the masala becomes slightly thick, aromatic and saucy. Do not dry out the masala completely at this stage. Add the kasuri methi.
Make Masala Pasta
16. Add cooked pasta & mix well. If the masala is dry, splash more water. Taste test and add more salt if needed. Cover and cook on a low to medium heat until the pasta becomes hot, for about 2 mins.
17. Sprinkle Coriander leaves and serve masala pasta hot. If you want you may add 2 to 3 tablespoon heavy cream or ¼ cup grated cheese on the hot pasta.
Indian style pasta aka masala pasta is ready to serve.
Pro Tips & Variations
- For Umami flavor use tomato ketchup/ passata or tomato paste. This imparts deeper flavors to your dish. Every brand is different with varying level of tang. So start with smaller quantities. FYI: Tomato ketchup has additives & starch while organic passata & tomato paste do not have any additives or preservatives.
- To make Cheesy masala pasta, you can either stir in the grated mozzarella or cream cheese to the hot masala sauce, before adding the pasta or after heating the pasta.
- To make the pasta creamy, add 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream. You can also make your own vegan cream following my notes in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. To use homemade malai/cream, I simply blend 4 tablespoons full fat cream (from non-homogenized buffalo milk) with tomatoes. It has never curdled for me.
- Eggs: To use eggs, just move the veggies aside once done. Beat eggs and pour to the pan. Scramble and cook just until done. Then add the pasta. You can also check this egg pasta.
- Chicken: Boil the chicken first and shred. Add it to the pan and saute for 2 to 3 mins with the veggies. Alternately you can add in any pre-cooked or grilled or curried chicken to the masala. Heat it well before adding the pasta. I have a different Chicken pasta here.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1½ cups Penne Pasta (120 grams or 4 oz., or any other of choice)
- 2 to 2½ tablespoon olive oil or (1½ oil & 1 tbsp butter)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic (grated, minced or paste)
- ½ inch ginger (optional – peeled & grated, minced or paste)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (+ 1 tsp for boiling pasta)
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (adjust to taste, use up to 1¼ tsp)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (or pav bhaji masala/ meat masala/ kitchen king masala)
- 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves or 1 teaspoon Italian herbs)
- 1 to 1½ tablespoon tomato ketchup (optional or 2 tbsps passata or 1 teaspoon paste)
- 2 to 3 tablespoon cream or ¼ cup grated cheese (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coriander leaves fine chopped
- ½ cup onions (1 medium onion chopped finely)
- 1¼ cup tomatoes (120 grams chopped or pureed ) do not use sour tomatoes
- ½ cup carrots chopped (1 medium, optional)
- ¼ cup green peas (frozen or boiled, optional)
- ¼ cup capsicum (bell pepper, chopped, optional)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sweet corn kernels or 3 baby corn sliced or chopped (optional)
- In a large pot, bring 6 cups water to a rolling boil. Add one teaspoon salt, a few drops of oil (optional) and pasta.
- Cook till al dente on a medium flame. I suggest referring the instructions on the pack of pasta for the correct timings. It takes 8 to 9 mins to cook penne.
- While the pasta cooks, rinse and chop the veggies.
- When the pasta is cooked to al dente, reserve ¾ cup pasta cooked water in a cup and drain the pasta off to a colander. Optionally if you want you may rinse them under running water.
How to Make Masala Pasta
- Heat oil & butter (optional) in a pan. When the oil turns hot, add cumin seeds & let them splutter.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger & saute for a minute.
- Add onions and sauté them on a medium high heat until they turn golden.
- Add chopped veggies and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the ground spices & salt.
- Time to add the tomatoes & the ketchup/ passata (optional). Mix well and cook on a medium heat until the tomatoes cook down and the raw flavor of tomatoes is gone. You will also see oil begins to separate from the masala & the veggies are cooked through. Else cover & cook on a low heat.
- Pour ¼ to ½ cup pasta cooked water or plain water. Mix well & cook for a few minutes, until the sauce turns thick & saucy. (Do not over cook)
- Stir in kasuri methi & cooked pasta. Taste test & adjust salt. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 2 to 3 mins, until the pasta turns hot & steaming.
- If you want you may stir in heavy cream or grated cheese.
- Garnish masala pasta with coriander leaves. Serve hot.
- You may leave out the mixed veggies – carrot, bell peppers, peas & corn from the recipe and make the basic masala pasta.
- Tomato ketchup/ passata/ store bought bottled tomato puree/ tomato paste is used for a umami flavor. Adjust the quantity to suit your taste. You may add more when you stir in the pasta to the sauce.
- For a creamy taste, you can add 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or cooking cream. Alternately blend 15 soaked cashews or 4 tablespoons of almond flour with 4 tablespoons of water in a small chutney grinder. You will need to add 2 to 4 tbsps more water & blend again until you get a smooth cream. Stir 2 to 3 tbsps of this after you switch off the stove.
- You can also make the masala ahead and refrigerate for 2 days. Heat up with a splash of water and add the cooked paste.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
Follow Swasthi’s Recipes