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Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Sarkara Varatti, or Spiced Plantain Chips, is a classic part of any Onam Sadhya. As a kid, these chips were not my favorite. The flavors of ginger, cardamom, and cumin as a coating on a jaggery fried chip seemed like too much for me. Over time, however, I grew to love these crunchy, spiced chips!

What I love most about these spiced plantain chips during Onam Sadhya is their precise placement on the banana leaf. They are usually on the top left. The placement of food, down to the fold of the banana leaf when you finish eating all seem to matter during Onam Sadhya. If you ever go to a sadhya, you’ll start to notice how everything gets placed.

When making sarkara varatti

To make these spiced plantain chips, it’s important to let them fry completely. Don’t rush the process on this one. It’s really easy to end up with soggy chips if you don’t fry these long enough. Second, you will want to let these cool down completely before mixing them in jaggery syrup. Once they cool, you can also test for crunch before mixing them.

Finally, you toss the fried plantain chips in jaggery syrup and a spiced rice flour mixture until everything is coated. That’s it! This recipe is so simple to make and definitely a classic part of any Onam Sadhya. But, you don’t have to wait until Onam to enjoy these snacks. You can, of course, enjoy this year-round with a big cup of chai/chaya.

Like South Indian snacks? You might also like making my recipes for Banana Chips (Ethakka Upperi)Ethakka Appam (Banana Fritters), or Indian-Inspired Banana Bread.

If you decide to make this Onam recipe, tag me @thefamiliarkitchen on social media. I’d LOVE to see how it turns out for you!

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Cooling Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Onam, Plantains, Sadhya
Author: The Familiar Kitchen


  • Raw Green Plantains, 4
  • Jaggery, 1 cup
  • Warm Water, 1 cup
  • Rice Flour, ¼ cup
  • Powdered Sugar, 2 tbsp
  • Green Cardamom, 10-15 pods, ground
  • Ground Cumin, 1 tsp
  • Dry Ginger Powder, 2 tbsp
  • Coconut Oil, for frying
  • Water, 2 tbsp + Turmeric, 1/2 tsp + Salt, 2 tsp salt this is used to season the chips and make them crispier


Prep the plantains.

  • Peel and cut the plantain longways and in half, then into 1/4 in thick pieces. They should look moon-shaped.

Get your ingredients ready.

  • Soak the jaggery in warm water. Set aside.
    In a small pan, lightly toast the rice flour. You’ll know it’s done toasting the minute you see a little smoke rising from the top of the flour. 
    Take a small bowl and add the toasted rice flour along with the powdered sugar, ground cardamom, cumin, and dry ginger powder. Mix evenly then set aside.

Fry the plantain chips.

  • In a deep frying pan on medium-high heat, add enough coconut oil so it’s 2” deep. When the oil gets hot, add the plantains then reduce the heat to medium-low.
    Fry the plantains for about 40-50 minutes or until the chips turn a golden brown-ish yellow. They will also start to sound hard.
    *Optional: Add 2 tbsp of water mixed with 1/2 tsp turmeric and 2 tsp salt. Pour this mixture into the oil to season the chips around the 40 minute mark. Things will bubble up so watch closely and reduce heat if need be. Once the bubbling stops, the chips should be close to done.
    These take a while to fry so don’t remove them too quickly. They should be crispy and not soft in the center.
    Remove and let the chips cool completely before moving to the next step.

Season the chips.

  • In a separate frying pan, turn the heat to medium and add the soaked jaggery with water. Stir this continuously until it reaches a syrup-like consistency, kind of like thin honey. It should be sticky.
    Turn off the heat, add the plantains to the pan, and mix so the chips are coated evenly in the syrup. Add the spiced rice flour mixture over the plantains and stir really well so that everything is nicely coated and not clumping together. Let cool then store in an air-tight container.

Sarkara Varatti (Spiced Plantain Chips)

When I was a kid, one of the first things my mom taught me how to make was a hot cup of chaya (homestyle tea). It was like a rite of passage…and an invitation to her colorful, spice-filled kitchen. The most exciting part back then was daringly pouring the steamy, caramel-colored goodness from one steel cup to another so I could cool it down and get that classic, frothy texture to sit atop the tea. It’s a recollection of my childhood every time I do it. That same magical feeling still shines through my recipes, both new and old. There’s just nothing like creating a dish so full of evocative flavor and love. It’s what gives me joy and the inspiration to share this experience with you every day! It’s something I hope offers you adventure, a little piece of home, and maybe even something a little familiar.

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