My entire family went on a pilgrimage trip to Pazhani Murugan temple, a Holytown near Madurai, Southern India (read more about the temple here) last weekend. My parents had prayed to visit Him along with his kith and kins to pull the thanga radam (Golden Chariot)offering for the safe delivery of my son. It is a chariot on which Lord Murugan is placed and the devotees will pull the cart around the temple. About forty plus relatives of mine had traveled together, so you can imagine the fun and laughter that would have been exchanged during the journey. I live far away on the coast of Pacific and was tearing up missing those priceless moments. All I could do was to call up every now and then to keep myself posted with what was happening there. Even my in-laws were invited to attend the prayers and I am glad that they enjoyed their company and had a good time in Pazhani.
I kept telling my husband that they would have taken the kuthirai vandi (horse drawn carriage rides), tasted the kuchi ice (popsicles) and trekked up the hill barefoot chatting, cracking jokes and munching the local goodies (peanut candy, spiced puffed rice, golli soda, roasted peanuts) on the way up. It is a family tradition to visit the temple every year and I have so many stories to recollect and share with my husband. I started off with the one incident that was so dear to my heart. It was about my first mann undiyal (piggy bank made with clay) and a small guitar toy that I bought there. I would collect the coins from everyone at home and would drop each one of them with so much excitement. The next year we would visit the temple, my mom would break open them like cracking a coconut and I would offer all the money to God.
Our family is known for touring together be it a pleasure trip or a pilgrimage trip, anyone from three to eighty years will always be ready to venture out. Even a month before my wedding, my cousin had organized a week long trip to Coorg with twenty five people. Be it a short trip to Pondicherry (about 3 hours from Chennai) or to the neighboring state or to another country, a good trip for us is enjoying great food at the destination and also having tons of nick-nacks to munch during the travel. We generally shop at our local departments stores like Foodworld, Nilgiris supermarket or Krishna sweets or Saravana Bhavan. Apart from that, my favorite one to carry for a picnic is Dilkush and especially the one I get from KVR bakery (local bakery near my house) is mind blowing, perfectly balanced with cardamoms and tutti-fruittis. KVR bakery was once a small town bakery but now they have expanded into a food joint. I remember buying one slice for Rs.2.00 (less than 10 cents) during my school years and also their samosa chaat is something to die for.
Dilkush Sweet Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup ice cold water, + or – as per the need
For the stuffing:
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups pitted fresh cherries – finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cashews – chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon powder or 5-6 fresh cardamons powdered
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (adjust this according to the sweetness of your cherries)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Juice of half a lemon
For the glaze
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Mix all the ingredients listed under the stuffing section and set them aside.
- Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix well. Slowly add the cold yet soft butter. Break them into small lumps and mix well with hand pressing it against the bowl. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough sticks to itself when pinched.
- Remove flour mixture and place onto a clean, dry, flat surface. Gently shape into 2 disks. If the dough is too crumbly and doesn’t shape to a single ball, add more water, tablespoon by tablespoon, as needed. The key is to use as little water as possible to make it stay together. Little specs of butter will occur like streaks in the dough. These bits of butter will melt in the oven and that will make the crust flaky.Wrap them into a large ball in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for at least 20 minutes, preferably 1 hour.
- Remove one half of the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to make it easier to roll out. Using a well-floured rolling pin on a lightly-floured surface, roll out dough to form a circle a bit larger than the pie plate. Be sure to continue to flip the dough over and lightly flour each side so as not to have the rolled-out dough stick to the surface. I rolled them out with a rolling pin, just like the way I would make chapatti or roti (flipping to the other side after every roll).
- Place the rolled-out dough onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it meets the bottom and sides of the pie dish. Using the back of a knife, trim the dough around the top edge of the pie dish, leaving about a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch overlap.
- Remove the excess liquid from the cherry-coconut mixture and discard them. Spoon the stuffing over the rolled out dough.
- Roll out the remaining half of the dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface, drape it over the filling, and trim it, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edge decoratively. Brush the egg wash over over pie crust.
- Cut 3 slits in the crust with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 400°F. and bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool on a rack.