Today I am introducing Shukto, one of the most popular dish in Bengali cuisine. It’s a fresh vegetable curry, slight bitter in taste, cooked in mustard paste. Main ingredients are raw Banana (Plantain), eggplant and bitter gourd. But it’s not complete without some dry roasted masala and some lentil fritters ( wadi/bori made by daal ). Shukto is generally served in lunch and not supposed to have it during dinner. Because it’s not easy to digest at night as it is made of several vegetables.
I never knew that anyone could love Shukto no less than 'Kosha Mangso' (Goat Curry) if I wouldn’t have met my Hubby, an immense Shukto lover. I was literally shocked after few days of our marriage when we moved to a new city and used to go to Bengali Restaurant on the weekend where he ordered Shukto, posto and tomato chutney !! So my Shukto journey began because I had to cook for him at home but now honestly speaking, I too love Shukto J
Though It is a very common dish in West Bengl, still almost every household has their own recipe to cook Shukto. I follow my mom’s one. She never uses milk or sugar (chini) in this dish to reduce bitterness. So my Shukto would be little blackish in color. There is another version 'sada Shukto' (comparatively white colored Shukto) which is also known as 'Dudh-Shukto'. Though it’s not mandatory, common practice is to cut all the vegetables in Shukto in length-wise like thin stripes and number of vegetables should be five (that's why it is also called 'Panch Aanajer Shukto')
Recipe of Shukto
1. Plantain / Raw Banana - 1 (peeled and cut into long wedges)
2. Bitter Gourd - 1 medium to big-sized or 1/2 cup (cut into long stripes)
3. Eggplant- 1/2 cup (cut into long wedges)
4. Potato - 1 big (cut into long wedges)
5. Long Beans - 1 cup ( cut into 1.5 inches)
6. Drumsticks or another vegetables like Radish, Carrot or French Beans can be used but today I used only above those veggies.
7. Ginger- 1/2 inch (grated)
8. Sun-dried Lentils dumpling or fritters (bori/wadi) - a handful, I used the Urad daal-(Split Black Gram) wadi.
9. 2 tsp of Mustard seeds and 1tsp of Poppy seeds - to be grounded together with water.
10. Oil - 5-6 tbsp
11. Panchforon - 1/2 tsp
12. Bay leaves - 2
13. Dry Red Chilies ( optional)
14. Bhaja Masala ( dry roasted spice powder ) - 2 tbsp whole Cumin + 1 whole red Chili, dry roast them and pounded into a fine powder
1. Make a paste with mustard seeds and poppy seeds. Prepare the dry roasted spices and keep them aside.
2. In a big non-stick pan, heat 1 tsp oil and fry the small sun-dried lentil dumpling or “bori/wadi”. When they change the color to brown, keep them aside.
3. Take some oil and heat it up again. Fry the bitter gourd and once it becomes light brown, keep them aside. Follow this way to separately saute the vegetables one by one starting with plantain and then long bean and eggplant.
4. Take the remaining oil, heat it up, add bay leaves, panch foron and red chili. Once it starts splattering, add the potato pieces.
5. Fry them for 2-3 minutes. Add the other fried vegetables except the eggplant. Add the grated ginger and stir it nicely. Add paste of mustard and poppy seeds and mix till it gets a nice coat.
6. Add eggplants, stir the whole thing for 2-3 minutes and add 1-1/2 cup of water, salt add the fried wadis ( If you use other kind of wadi like Red Lentil wadis then add them only when vegetables are almost cooked) and keep on cooking on slow flame.
7. Boil them until the vegetables are well-cooked. Check the seasoning and the consistency. Add the roasted spice powder and mix it nicely.
8. Shukto is ready, Turn off the gas. Garnish it with some crushed fried wadi on the top and sprinkling of roasted spice powder.
9. Serve with a bowl of steamed rice !!