Somewhere South with Chef Vivian Howard

Achari Pimento Cheese

From chef Farhan Momin

We were completely intrigued by chef Farhan Momin's version of Indian spiced pimento cheese that he served at the Brown in the South dinner during the pickle episode of “Somewhere South.” Lucky for us and viewers, Momin had previously shared the recipe with Food & Wine magazine. Enjoy!


For achari masala:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kalonji (nigella seeds)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder

For pimento cheese:

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 4 ounces medium cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise (such as Duke’s)
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained (about ½ cup)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil


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

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.

Step 2: Stir together shredded cheeses, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimientos, and salt to taste in a medium bowl.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium until shimmering. Turn off heat, and add 1 tablespoon achari masala spice mixture. 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. 

Step 3: 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.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings