Sarkara Upperi : Sweet Plantain Chips

Sarkara upperi is the sweet version of varuthupperi. Both of these chips are served at feasts. My mother always added a touch of ghee to these sweet chips, which made them taste just perfect.

6 firm green plantains
6 cups vegetable oil
2 cups jaggery or brown sugar
½ cup water
3 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cardamom or 1 teaspoon dried ginger

Peel off the thick green skin, and cut the plantains in half, lengthwise. Cut these long pieces into quarter-inch thick slices. Heat the oil in a heavy wok or deep-frying pan to 365°F. Fry the plantain chips until they are golden and crisp, about six to seven minutes. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, and drain them on a cake cooling rack placed over a cookie tray. Excess oil will drip through the cooling rack and fall onto the cookie tray.

Combine the jaggery (or brown sugar) and water in a heavy skillet, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until it forms a syrup (215°F to 220°F on a candy thermometer). The syrup should form a single long string when dropped from a spoon. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the fried plantain pieces. Stir well to coat. Pour in the ghee, sprinkle with cardamom, and stir well. The syrup will coat the chips evenly and harden in a few minutes. Let them cool, and store them in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.

AMMINI RAMACHANDRAN