Chitra Divakaruni is probably best known for the fluffy story Mistress of Spices, made into a movie starring Ashwarya Rai. This book, One Amazing Thing, is not fluff. When an earthquake hits, nine people are trapped in an Indian visa office. The situation quickly becomes dire- parts of the building keep collapsing, water is coming in, there is almost no food. (Yeah, I know. I’ll get to that.)
The book begins with Uma, a grad student in Literature, ignoring her Chaucer to make up stories about the people in the waiting room. After the quake, when people are beginning to understand the very real possibility that they will die here together, Uma makes a suggestion. Each person will tell a story from their life, about one amazing thing, Canterbury Tales-style.
Each person’s amazing thing is somehow linked to sadness. Each story explains what brought them to the office, to the dream of India. One woman, Mrs. Pritchett, recalls the beginning of her story several times. It starts with a peach pie, flaky and sweet.
This pie is as good as any memory. Perfectly sweet, with a hint of Indian spices, you won’t want to stop eating.
One Amazing Pie
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tb sugar
2 sticks of butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup cold water
7 large peaches
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tb cornstarch
First, the crust! Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor and whaz it. Add the butter cubes and pulse them in. Finally, add the water and watch the dough form a ball. You know, most pastry chefs will tell you that you should grate in frozen butter and use ice water. I totally don’t do that. Its a hassle. Your dough will be fine. Wrap it up in Saran wrap and stick it in the fridge. Let it chill for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350. While that’s heating up, peel your peaches. Again, you could blanch them to slip off the skins, but I didn’t feel like it. A vegetable peeler works fine. Halve the peaches, take out the pits, and thinly slice them. Combine them in a bowl with the other filling ingredients.
Divide the dough in half. I chose to roll mine thin and just use a single crust folded over like a galette. You could use your second half to make a normal top crust, or even a lattice. Or, freeze it and make another pie later like I am. Whatever you decide, get a crust in a pie pan! Dump the filling into your crust. Brush the top crust with water and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for an hour, or until golden and bubbly.