Onam 2023: Sadhya-Special Sarkkara Pidi, A Simple Sweet Delicacy
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Celebrated during the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September) for a span of 10 days, Onam is a harvest festival celebrated across Kerala—and by Malayalis beyond Kerala too. In 2023, Onam falls between the dates of 20th August and 31st August. Onam also signifies the time when the ancient mythical king, Mahabali, revisits God’s Own Country. So, during the Onam festivities, Malayalis not only cook up a delicious Sadhya feast but also make floral rangolis called Pookalam, engage in stunning boat races and perform special dances like Thiruvathira and Kummatikali. 

For the Onam Sadhya, also known as Onasadhya, consists of a variety of dishes ranging from crispy snacks to wholesome Avials, Thorans and Pulisseries to sweet dishes like Payasam. On of these amazing dishes cooked specially for the Onam Sadhya is Sarkkara Pidi, also known as Shakkara Pidi. For those unaware, Pidi is the Malayali counterpart of the Tamil Kozhukattai. Made with rice flour and stuffed with sweet coconut filling, Pidi is a type of sweet dumpling. 

When it comes to Sarkkara Pidi, the concept remains the same in the sense that the basic ingredients involved are the same: rice flour, coconut, jaggery or sugar and cardamom for flavour. It must be noted here that the jaggery used to make Sarkkara Pidi for Onam or any other festive occasion and Sadhya is sourced not from sugarcane but palm sugar native to Kerala. Signifying auspiciousness, prosperity and one of the six major Rasas, sweetness, Sarkkara Pidi is an essential traditional dish served during all festive occasions in Kerala. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Hebbars Kitchen

What makes Sarkkara Pidi stand out is that instead of just filling up the rice flour dumplings with a coconut and cardamom mixture, this dish consists of the rice dumplings cooked either in a jaggery syrup or a coconut milk syrup. Whether you want to stuff the dumplings with coconut and jaggery doesn’t matter as much as the fact that instead of steaming the Pidi in a steamer, Sarkkara Pidi is prepared by cooking the rice dumplings in the heat of the syrup or sauce. The chewy and sweet dumplings are then served warm in a bowl. 

If the method of making Sarkkara Pidi sounds familiar to another range of dishes from Indian cuisine, specifically the Bengali, Odia and Assamese Pitha, it is because the dishes are in fact quite alike. In the Eastern states of India, Pitha is also prepared for all festive occasions, like New Year, Bihu and more. These Pitha are also made of rice flour, infused with the flavours of cardamom and coconut, and occasionally cooked in a syrup made with milk and jaggery.  

Another thing to note about Sarkkara Pidi is that while it is a part of Onam Sadhya meals and other Hindu festivals like Vishu, it is not only cooked during Hindu festivals in Kerala. The Christian community of Kerala also cooks Sarkkara Pidi as a dessert for festive occasions like Easter and Christmas, making this sweet treat one that unifies all of the state’s diverse population in celebrations and festivities instead of just one community.  

The best part about Sarkkara Pidi is that the recipe for this sweet traditional dish is quite easy to follow and make at home. Here is an easy recipe for Sarkkara Pidi that you can try out at home for your Onam celebrations.  


1 cup rice flour 

½ cup jaggery/sugar 

2 cups coconut milk 

1 cup water 

½ tsp cardamom powder 

1 tsp oil 


1. Place half cup of water in a pan and bring it to a boil.  

2. Add the rice flour gradually and continue stirring on a low heat to ensure no lumps are formed. 

3. Once the dough comes together, take it off the heat, cool a bit then knead until smooth. 

4. Divide the rice flour dough into small, bite-sized balls using the oil and cover with a wet kitchen towel to avoid drying. 

5. Now, heat the coconut milk, water and jaggery in a deep pan with the cardamom powder. 

6. Once the coconut milk comes to a boil, add the rice balls one by one and cook on a low heat until cooked. 

7. If the syrup is too thin then add a bit of grated coconut or rice flour to thicken it. 

8. Serve the Sarkkara Pidi warm with grated coconut on top.