Achari Pimiento Cheese Spread

Growing up in the South, pimiento cheese was always an enigma. Who thinks of combining shredded cheese, mayo, and roasted red peppers into a weird but delicious spread? I took this Southern staple and gave it the OG Spice Boy makeover by incorporating my mom’s classic Indian pickling spices. Serve this with some crackers, between two slices of white bread, or toasted naan.

Achari Pimiento Cheese Spread
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 25 mins
Yield:
6

Ingredients

ACHARI MASALA

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon kalonji (nigella seeds)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder

PIMIENTO CHEESE

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

  • 4 ounces medium cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (such as Duke’s)

  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained (about 1/2 cup)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Make the achari masala

  1. Combine coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, kalonji, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and peppercorns in a small skillet.

  2. Cook over medium-high, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet, and cool completely, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a coffee grinder or spice mill, and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in chile powder.

Make the pimiento cheese

  1. Stir together shredded cheeses, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimientos, and salt to taste in a medium bowl.

  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium until shimmering. Turn off heat, and add 1 tablespoon achari masala. Allow spices to bloom in hot oil, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. (Keep an eye out at this stage; the spices can burn easily if the oil or pan is too hot.) Remove from skillet, and let cool completely, about 10 minutes. Stir spice-oil mixture into cheese mixture until combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or, for best results, up to 8 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers or on toasted naan.

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