'tinnevely' Apple Pie
AS cliched as it sounds, I tend to wince when I hear certain 'experts' on Indian food claim that they grew up in utter poverty and how they had no access to running water and cooking ranges yada yada. and then proceed to extol about recipes with Alaskan salmon that their grandmothers used to whip up in their ancestral villages. PUHLEEZ. Life in Indian villages was drastically different from the cities (which, within the first decades of independence were on par in terms of chic & grandeur for the few that could afford it). But by no measure was it considered poor, if you had electricity and land that would provide food for the year. In retrospect, I'm amazed at the true quality of the food I've had at my maternal grandmother's home as a child. She lived in this little village at the Southern tip of India, A village in the district of Tirunelveli (or tinnevely as the British called it). Food was cooked over firewood with non gmo ingredients that were grown without a trace of artificial pesticides or frankensteinian boosters. But, having said that, those that were well off had already made small changes by switching to ingredients such as refined table salt and white sugar. As a child I always used to wonder why family members were given their morning filter kaapi (coffee) with undiluted full fat milk with white sugar added in, when the household helps (the lady who came in daily to clean the dishes, mop the floors, or the farm hand who tended to the cows, cleaned the cowshed etc) would be given coffee with a native sweetener derived from the sap of a toddy palm tree. I've been guilty of swapping my own (oh yes, I've been drinking only coffee ever since I was 3!) thick sugared serving for the other lighter flavorful variety, only to have the help tattle on me my grandmother. To this day, toddy palm jaggery remains a favorite and I leave no stone untruned to ensure that I have a stash at home. Kalustyan's in New York City stocks a close enough version under the label of Khajurer gud. As I assimilate and adapt to American customs, cherishing and celebrating holidays like thanksgiving and July 4th, I also love to include touches from my childhood into classic American dishes that are a favorite at home. My way of having the best of both worlds. The Pie crust is from Kirsten Miglore's Genius Recipes and I never tire of marveling at the expertu use of chilled vodka in making the dough. The filling uses a spice blend that is used for spiced coffee in Southern India and of course Palm Jaggery for the flavor. If you can't get hold of the original, I would recommend coconut palm sugar as a substitute.
What you will need
1 1/2 cup All purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 stick butter (chilled and cut into small cubes)
3 tablespoons Vodka
2 tablespoons chilled water
4 large granny smith apples - peeled, cored, halved and sliced
3 tablespoon chukku kaapi spice blend*
4 tablespoons palm sugar crystals (sub with regular brown sugar if needed)
1/2 cup toddy palm jaggery, melted and strained
pinch of salt
2 heaped tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons fresh ginger extract**.