Here’s a nice discovery: Indian flour makes a great pie crust, one that’s flaky but sturdy, with a distinctive and appealing flavor.
I found this out when I got the jones to make a tart from a whole lot of cheap, very ripe kiwi we needed to use. Alas, I couldn’t find a lick of all-purpose or pastry flour in the cupboard. All I had a was a large bag of atta I purchased recently when I was on a flatbread-making kick. So I improvised.
Atta — specifically durum atta — is the stone-ground wholemeal flour used for making roti. It is coarse enough to feel practically sandy between your fingers. I like it for its flavor and whole-grain nutrients.
I threw the crust together the typical way: cut chilled butter and a bit of shortening into the flour until it resembled coarse meal with pea-sized pieces of butter, then added ice water to bring it together. As the grain itself was so coarse, it took a little more ice water than normal (sorry, didn’t measure anything) to get it to behave. I ended up with a nicely pliable dough that kept its fat in distinct layers after I chilled it and rolled it out.
I made a standard fruit tart: a layer of pastry cream, sliced fruit and an apricot jam glaze.
The crust was sturdy enough to keep its integrity even after we refrigerated the leftovers overnight, but it didn’t seem too tough. I found the sandy-yet-flaky texture extremely appealing, and the pungent flavor of this flour was a bonus in my book..
If you’re a baker and a fan of whole wheat, you might give this a try. You can buy atta at any Indian market.