Bengalis mostly live to eat, and with the scores of spices we use to prepare food each day, it’s really important to have something soothing and less spicy to nullify the effect of all these rich food. Shukto is an answer to all these questions. This typical Bong favorite is a concoction of all seasonal vegetables.
A Bengali lunch is never complete without Shukto. Shukto can loosely be compared to the Western culture of having soup before starting the main course. Though, Shukto is totally different from soup, it’s always made with vegetables chopped in large pieces and best tastes with warm white rice. There are many variations of shukto, and it depends on the availability of the vegetables, but the most popular is dudh shukto (vegetables cooked in milk). Before saying anything more about this classical Bengali preparation I should warn you, bitter gourd is one of the must have ingredients in this preparation. Even if you hate that bitter vegetables, I’m sure if you have shukto once, you’ll definitely ask for more.
- ½ cup each of potato, sweet potato, papaya, carrot, beans, string beans, green banana chopped to 1” size pieces
- Drumsticks cut to 2” length
- 10 – 12 Bodi
- ½ cup of bitter gourd, cut to small round-shaped bite size pieces
- 4 tablespoon of mustard oil
- 1 teaspoon clarified butter (optional)
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 tablespoon panch phoron
- 1 tablespoon wild celery
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- ½ cup milk
- Heat 2 tablespoon of mustard oil and fry the bodi and bitter gourd separately, keep aside
- Pour in rest of the oil and throw in half the spices (panch phoron, wild celery, and mustard seeds), as they start sputtering add all the vegetables except the fried bitter gourd
- Sprinkle a little water
- Cover and cook till all the vegetables soften. Stir once or twice in between
- Heat a thick bottom skillet and roast rest of the spices, grind them to fine powder and mix with the milk
- As the vegetables get cooked pour in the spice mixed milk, fried bodi, bitter gourd and pour in the ghee
Hot Tips – The trick to prepare shukto is cutting the vegetables, so while chopping the vegetables always try to keep the pieces almost the same size. Panch phoron is a concoction of fenugreek, fennel, wild celery, nigella and mustard seeds in equal proportions.