My mom always says “Bhalo kore shukto randhte pare je, prokrito radhuni she” (one who can cook Shukto very well, is a perfect cook). If I go by be mom’s words then today I can proudly say that I am atleast a ‘radhuni’ (cook), if not ‘prokrito’ (perfect) yet 🙂 All my life I have seen only those people cook Shukto who are very mature and expert as cooks – my Dida (maternal grandma), my Pishimoni (dad’s sister) and my Maa (mom), just to name a few. So, I had to gather a lot of courage to attempt this – and I am happy I did, the outcome is fantastic 🙂
Shukto is an age-old traditional Bengali dish. It is believed that it has it’s origins in Portuguese cuisine. Bengalis love their Shukto and no vegetarian meal is considered to be complete with it. Shukto can be termed as a very interesting vegetable medley cooked in the paste of mustard and poppy seeds. Both of these seeds are integral parts of Bengali cuisine, and so is Shukto. It is a no onion no garlic recipe and includes very minimum spices. This goes best as a side as well as main with piping hot rice. Also, do not forget to add some extra ghee (clarified butter) while eating.
The preparation of Shukto is little time consuming though, but the effort is worthy. Technically, there should be no green chillies added to Shukto, but, I take the liberty of adding the same. I just cannot stand a preparation without adding any green chilli. Adding green chilli is optional and thus you can skip if you want. Today, let’s have the taste of Shukto together. Let’s cook 🙂
- 1 large potato, peeled and vertically cut into long pieces
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into long pieces (1 inch approx)
- 1 bitter gourd, cut into long pieces (1 inch approx)
- 1 raw banana, peeled and cut into long pieces (1 inch approx)
- 1/2 raw papaya, peeled and cut into long pieces (1 inch approx)
- 10 flat beans, discard both ends and cut into half
- 1 large eggplant, cut into long pieces (1 inch approx)
- 2 drumstick, cut into long pieces (1 inch approx)
- 5 green chilli, slitted from middle (2 + 3)
- 15 – 20 bori (dried lentil dumplings)
- 3 table-spoon yellow mustard seed
- 3 table-spoon poppy seed
- 1 cup of full fat milk
- 1 tea-spoon panchphoron (5 spice blend)
- 2 dry red chilli
- 1/2 tea-spoon turmeric powder + some more to fry the veggies
- 3 table-spoon mustard oil + some more to fry the veggies
- salt, according to taste
- 2 table-spoon ghee
- Mix mustard seeds and poppy seeds together and soak in water for 15 minutes. After that, grind to a fine paste. Keep aside.
- Wash and rub all the vegetables separately with few pinches of turmeric powder and salt. Heat oil little by little in an wok and separately fry all the vegetables by covering in between. This way the veggies will turn almost soft. Do not overdo. We don’t want vegetables to become mushy. Remove all the vegetables and keep aside.
- Now, heat little bit of more oil and add bori. Lightly fry them and remove. Keep aside.
- Now, finally heat 3 table-spoon oil and temper with panchphoron, dry red chillies and 2 green chillies. Allow them to splutter.
- Add mustard-poppy paste to it and over medium flame stir cook until oil starts separating out.
- Add milk, required salt and turmeric powder and stir cook until it comes to a boil.
- Add all the fried vegetables and remaining 3 green chillies. Give a proper mix. Cover and cook for 7 minutes (approx) over low to medium flame.
- Now, add fried bori and mix again. Check the consistency and if you think it’s too dry for you, add some warm water accordingly.
- Cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables and bori are nicely done. Turn off the flame.
- Add ghee from above and cover it again. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Your Shukto is ready to be served now.