Shukto (Veggies cooked with Bengali  Five Spice Mix) 

Shukto is a Bengali delicacy served with rice and fish curry and  I believe, its actually is a palate cleanser. Bengalis are known for their sweets but what people do not know is, a bitter tasting dish is a part of a their everyday afternoon meal. There has been quite a debate about the origin of Shukto because some say it is Portuguese in origin. They had a similar dish which they cooked with Bitter-gourd or Karela but, when Bengalis cook Shukto, they incorporate lot of  summer veggies with karela and bori(dal kisses) . A sweet touch  by adding milk and sugar transforms this dish to a different level altogether. 

To cook this dish we have to  cut the veggies in a particular way as shown  in the pic below. You can substitute the milk with 50ml of cream to give it a royal touch. 

Serves 4

Ingredients 

  1.  1 large potato 
  2. 1 raw banana
  3. 1 long brinjal
  4. 2 pointed gourds (potol/parwal) 
  5. 8 french beans or lima beans
  6. 1 small sweet potato
  7. 7 or 8 pieces of drumsticks(sahjan or sheng or phalli) 
  8. 1 bitter gourd
  9. 8 to 10 Bengali Urad dal boris (wadi) 
  10.  1 tsp of whole panch phoran (Bengali five spice mix contains equal proportions of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds) 
  11. 1 and a 1/2 tsp of dry roasted and ground panch phoran
  12.  2 tbsps of mustard powder (see my post Macher jhaal) 
  13. 1/2 tsp of sugar
  14. 1 tsp of poppy seed paste(see my post aloo posto) 
  15. 1/2 tsp of dried  whole black  pepper corns
  16. 1 bay leaf
  17. Oil to deep fry boris and karela
  18. 2 tbsp of oil to cook
  19. 1 tsp of ghee
  20. 200 ml of milk 
  21. 1 whole dried chilli
  22. Salt to taste. 

    Procedure 

    1. Peel the potatoes, raw bananas and potol(pointed gourd) . Remove strings from the beans and cut them. Soak the potatoes and the cut brinjal in water. 
    2. Cut all the veggies as shown in the pic (you can use radish as well)
    3. Cut the bitter gourd or karela into half,  lengthwise  and then cut them into thin half moons. 
    4. Mix mustard powder and poppy seed paste and keep aside. 
    5. Dry roast panch phoran and grind it and keep aside. 
    6. Mix sugar and 1/2 tsp of powdered panch phoran in milk and keep aside. 
    7. Deep fry the boris till they turn brown. It takes a minute or so.  If you fry for too long you will end up getting charred ones. Keep them  aside. 
    8. Now rub salt in the karelas and deep fry them till brown. You can saute them, but I deep fry to avoid the overpowering  bitter taste in this otherwise mildly flavored dish . Keep them aside. 
    9. Now, for the final assembly take  oil in a pan with lid and add whole panch phoran, red chilli, peppercorns and bay leaf. 
    10. As soon as the spices start to splutter, add all the veggies one  by one begining with potatoes. Leave the karela and the  boris for later. 
    11. Stir fry all the  veggies well and once this is done,  add salt and mustard and poppy seed mix and fry. 
    12. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium flame.  The veggies release lot of water which helps to cook them through.  
    13. Remove the lid to check whether the veggies are half done. Now , add the milk  mix and after stirring well, add karela  and the  boris. 
    14. Cover and cook for 5 more  mins on low flame.
    15. Remove  the lid and add ghee and Powdered  panch phoran mix. 
    16. Mix well and its ready to serve. 

     What makes this dish so adorable is, every household recipe for this dish varies. Still somehow we love each and every variation. Well, I think it is because of the combination of veggies and panch phoran. Cooking this dish needs lots of arrangement and patience, but once  cooked  and had with rice, you will forget all the pains you took to  make this dream come true. It is heavenly! 

    8 thoughts on “Shukto (Veggies cooked with Bengali  Five Spice Mix) 

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