Malai Rigatoni Recipe: A Fusion of Indian and Italian Flavors with Creamy Sauce

Photo of author
Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Craving a dish that combines the creamy decadence of Indian cuisine with the comforting familiarity of Italian pasta? Malai rigatoni is your answer. This fusion delight brings together rich, velvety malai (cream) sauce infused with aromatic spices and tender rigatoni, creating an unforgettable meal that’s both exotic and heartwarming.


To create the perfect malai rigatoni, you’ll need a selection of fresh ingredients for both the creamy malai sauce and the tender rigatoni pasta. Gather all your items before you start cooking to ensure a smooth process.

For the Malai Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For the Rigatoni Pasta

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) rigatoni pasta
  • Water for boiling
  • Salt for boiling water

For Garnishing

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (for garnish)
  • Red chili flakes (optional for extra heat)

Prepare these ingredients in advance to streamline your cooking process and achieve culinary perfection with your malai rigatoni.

Necessary Tools and Equipment

To make malai rigatoni successfully, you will need a variety of kitchen tools and equipment. Here’s a comprehensive list to ensure you’re well-prepared:

Basic Cooking Tools

  1. Large Pot: For boiling the rigatoni pasta.
  2. Colander: To drain the cooked pasta.
  3. Large Skillet or Saucepan: For preparing the malai sauce.
  4. Wooden Spoon or Spatula: To stir and mix ingredients effectively.

Preparation Tools

  1. Cutting Board: For chopping onions, garlic, ginger, and green chilies.
  2. Sharp Knife: Essential for precise cutting of vegetables and herbs.
  3. Measuring Cups and Spoons: To measure out cream, milk, ghee, spices, and other ingredients accurately.

Specialized Equipment

  1. Microplane or Grater: Useful for grating ginger finely if desired.
  2. Blender or Immersion Blender (Optional): If you prefer a smoother sauce texture.
  3. Serving Bowl or Platter: Present your malai rigatoni in style with an attractive serving dish.
  4. Tongs or Pasta Server Fork: Makes it easier to serve the rigatoni without breaking the pasta.

Prep Work

Before you start cooking, it is essential to prepare your ingredients and setup your cooking station efficiently.

Preparing the Ingredients

  1. Rigatoni Pasta: Measure 12 ounces of rigatoni pasta.
  2. Onions: Finely chop one medium onion.
  3. Garlic: Mince three cloves of garlic.
  4. Ginger: Grate one tablespoon of fresh ginger using a microplane or grater.
  5. Tomatoes: Puree two large tomatoes in a blender until smooth.
  6. Cilantro: Chop a quarter cup of fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.
  7. Heavy Cream (Malai): Measure one cup of heavy cream and set aside.

Getting Ready to Make Malai Rigatoni

  1. Place a large pot on the stove and fill it with water for boiling the rigatoni pasta.
  2. Set up a colander in the sink for draining the pasta once cooked.
  3. Have your skillet ready on another burner to prepare the sauce simultaneously as you cook the pasta.
  4. Ensure your wooden spoon, cutting board, sharp knife, measuring cups, spoons, microplane or grater, blender, serving bowl or platter, tongs or pasta server fork are within reach to streamline your cooking process.

Cooking Instructions

Follow these steps to create a delicious malai rigatoni. Ensure you have all your ingredients prepped and tools ready.

Making the Malai Sauce

  1. Heat Oil: In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: Add 1 finely chopped onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon grated ginger to the skillet. Sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
  3. Cook Tomatoes: Stir in 2 cups of diced tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes until they break down and form a thick sauce.
  4. Blend Mixture: Transfer the cooked mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the skillet.
  5. Add Spices: Stir in 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, and salt to taste. Cook for another minute to toast the spices.
  6. Incorporate Cream: Slowly add 1 cup of heavy cream while stirring continuously to create a rich, creamy sauce.
  7. Simmer Sauce: Reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.

Cooking Rigatoni Pasta

  1. Boil Water: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat.
  2. Salt Water: Add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water—it should taste like seawater.
  3. Cook Pasta: Add an entire box (16 ounces) of rigatoni pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions—usually around 10-12 minutes—for al dente texture.
  4. Drain Pasta: Once cooked, drain using a colander but reserve about one cup of pasta cooking water in case needed later.

Assembling the Malai Rigatoni

Now that you have your creamy malai sauce and perfectly cooked rigatoni pasta, it is time to bring them together for a delightful fusion dish.

Mixing the Sauce and Pasta

  1. Heat the Sauce: Place your skillet with the malai sauce over medium heat until it begins to simmer.
  2. Add Pasta: Gently add the drained rigatoni pasta into the skillet with the sauce.
  3. Combine Thoroughly: Using tongs or a wooden spoon, mix the pasta with the sauce until each piece of rigatoni is well-coated.
  4. Adjust Consistency: If needed, add reserved pasta cooking water, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve your desired sauce consistency.

Finishing Touches

  1. Fresh Cilantro: Finely chop fresh cilantro and sprinkle it generously over the mixed pasta.
  2. Grated Parmesan: Use a microplane or grater to grate fresh Parmesan cheese directly over the dish for an added layer of flavor.
  3. Optional Chili Flakes: For those who enjoy a hint of heat, lightly sprinkle red chili flakes on top.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Making malai rigatoni ahead of time can save you effort and ensure a quick meal during busy days. Follow these steps for optimal results:

  1. Prepare the Sauce: Cook the malai sauce as per the recipe instructions. Once done, let it cool completely to room temperature.
  2. Store the Sauce: Transfer the cooled sauce into an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
  3. Cook the Rigatoni: Boil the rigatoni until al dente according to package directions. Drain and toss with a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Store the Pasta: Spread out on a baking sheet to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or zip-top bag. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.


  1. Reheat Sauce: Place refrigerated or thawed sauce in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
  2. Reheat Pasta: Add rigatoni directly into simmering sauce and cook together for about 5 minutes until pasta is warmed and evenly coated with sauce.
  3. Adjust Consistency: If needed, add reserved pasta cooking water or a splash of cream while reheating to achieve desired consistency.

Serving Suggestions

Malai rigatoni is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various ways, whether you are hosting a dinner party or having a cozy family meal. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your dining experience:

Garnishes and Toppings

Enhance the flavors of malai rigatoni with these garnishes:

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for an added touch of umami
  • Red chili flakes for a hint of heat

Side Dishes

Pair malai rigatoni with complementary side dishes:

  • Garlic Bread: The crunchy texture and garlicky flavor perfectly balance the creamy pasta.
  • Green Salad: A fresh salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette adds a refreshing contrast.


Choose beverages that complement the rich flavors of malai rigatoni:

  • White Wine: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio pairs well with the creamy sauce.
  • Sparkling Water: For non-alcoholic options, sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime cleanses your palate between bites.

Presentation Tips

Make your dish visually appealing with these presentation tips:

  1. Use wide-rimmed bowls to serve the pasta. This allows room for garnishes without overcrowding.
  2. Drizzle extra sauce over the top before adding garnishes to highlight its creamy texture.
  3. Add a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and grated Parmesan just before serving to maintain freshness.

With these serving suggestions, you’ll ensure that your malai rigatoni is not only delicious but also beautifully presented and paired with delicious accompaniments.


Malai rigatoni offers a unique and delightful twist on traditional pasta dishes, bringing together the best of Indian and Italian cuisines. By focusing on fresh ingredients and careful preparation, you can create a dish that’s both flavorful and visually stunning. Whether you’re making it ahead for convenience or serving it fresh out of the kitchen, this fusion recipe is sure to impress your guests.

Don’t forget to pair it with complementary sides like garlic bread and a crisp green salad for an enhanced dining experience. With its rich, creamy sauce and perfectly cooked rigatoni, malai rigatoni is bound to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire. Enjoy experimenting with garnishes and presentation tips to make each meal even more special.

Leave a Comment