As you all may know I am not American. But my love affair with America has been a long one. It is the ultimate dream to go to America in India. The promised land. The perfect land. The land of dreams. And if you worked hard enough you could make those dreams come true.
Everything about America, seemed perfect. I was an Indian girl growing up in a society that had very clear ideas of what a girl could or couldn’t do. And America for me was the place I’d find freedom and my intense desire for independence that my mother had instilled in me.
If there is one important lesson my mother taught me, it was to be fiercely independent. And to believe that I was equal to any man. Now that lesson doesn’t serve very well in a country like India. Not back then. But she taught it to me nevertheless. She changed the world a little bit through me. Now I am relentless in my pursuit of freedom and my rights in this world. I can be a pain to be around because I can never let it go. But in my own minuscule way I am changing the world a little bit further too.
America offered me that. Without a fight. And when I lived there it lived up to everything I had hoped it to be. I didn’t go there to shop, or to visit landmarks. I went there to discover me. It is America that showed me my true mettle. And today when I live in Holland, it is India that I now go back to further realise my true potential as a human being. You could say I have come full circle.
Cherries have a special place in my heart too. They hold memories of innocent times spent with my parents on long trips in army jeeps in the north of India. Of my first ever memory of the curiosity in visiting new places. What better fruit to choose than this to tie my life strings together?
This pie is so easy to make. I added some poppy seeds to the crust to give it a bit of texture and perhaps some bitterness. The bitter with the sweet is my favourite combination.
Happy fourth of July everyone!
- For the Crust
- 2½ cups plain flour
- 220 grams butter (cold and cut into cubes)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsps sugar
- 3 tbsps poppy seeds
- 2 tbsps vodka, cold
- 1 tbsp cold water
- For the Filling
- 4 cups cherries, pitted
- ½ cup strawberries, cut small
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 egg (for the egg wash)
- Preheat oven to 205°C/400°F.
- To make the crust, combine the flour, poppy seeds, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gently mix in the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Work the flour till it resembles bread crumbs and then gradually drizzle in the vodka and the ice water, folding with your fingers, one tablespoon at a time. Add just enough water to hold the dough together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a mound. Divide into 2 discs and wrap each with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- For the filling, in a large bowl using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir the cherries, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla together until thoroughly combined. Set filling aside as the oven preheats. This gives the filling a chance to rest.
- On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Roll out the dough to fit your pie dish. Carefully place the dough into your pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Return the pie dish lined with your dough to the refrigerator to cool.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the second disc of dough into a rough 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Use a pastry cutter or sharp knife to cut strips, flowers, whatever or however you wish to decorate your pie top.
- Spoon the filling into the chilled crust.
- Arrange your decoration on top and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 205°C/400°F.
- Reduce temperature to 190°C/375°F. Turn the pie dish and bake at this temperature for another 30 minutes. half way through cover with foil if your crust begins to brown too quickly.
- Allow the pie to cool completely before serving!