A meal, for the Bengali, is a ritual in itself.
We, Bengalis spend not only spend great deal of time thinking about food, but also in it’s preparation and eating. ❤
Ask a Bengali about Shukto, and one might be surprised by seeing one going into a trance- like state 😉 😀 Not only Shukto is considered as an ultimate lunch appetizer, cooking a perfect Shukto is considered to be one of the greatest culinary skill a Bengali can acquire !!
Shukto is not only a special dish in traditional Bengali cuisine, it is also a tedious one.
When Bengal was partitioned into West Bengal (a state in the east of India) and Bangladesh (country), Bengalis on either side mastered their own way of making Shukto, keeping the basic ingredients the same.
Shukto is a mixed vegetarian dish comprising of bitter gourd, raw banana, white radish, drumsticks, egg plant, potato, hyacinth beans and sundried lentil dumplings, what we call ‘Bori’.
No Shukto is complete without ‘Radhuni’. A spice, exclusively found in stores in West Bengal, has now gradually started travelling to other parts of country. Still the availability is very limited outside Bengal.
Traditionally, all the vegetables are deep fried separately with bitter gourd at the last.
Soaking the mustard in water for an hour or so, helps it to grind better. And, the mustard paste that is used is usually strained out by adding a little water. This cuts down on it’s bitterness.
1 nos – medium to large sized bitter gourd/ karela, cubed
1 nos – medium sized white radish/ mooli, peeled and cubed
1 nos – small sized brinjal/ egg plant/ baingan, cubed
3-4 nos – hyacinth beans/ sem ki phalli, string the beans and halved
1 nos – drumstick, string the drumstick and cut into length of 1 1/2″
1 nos – medium sized potato, peeled and cubed
1 nos – raw banana/ kaccha kela, peeled and cubed
8-9 nos – sundried lentil dumplings/ bori/ vadi
1/2 tsp – ginger paste
2 tsp – mustard, soaked in water
1/4 tsp – radhuni
1 cup – toned milk + 1 cup water
1 tsp – sugar
1 tsp – ghee/ clarified butter
4 tbsp – oil
salt to taste
Grind the mustard to a fine paste and strain it out with water.
Heat oil in a wok/ kadhai or a pan. Fry the ‘bori’/ sundried lentil dumplings till they turn brown. Drain them on an absorbent paper.
Fry all the vegetables one by one. Bitter gourd should be fried last. Keep aside.
Temper the remaining oil with ‘radhuni’.
Add the ginger paste and the fried vegetables. Season with salt.
Add the sugar and the strained mustard paste. Cover and cook for 3-4 mins on medium flame.
Pour in the milk and water. (Add enough water to make gravy) Adjust salt. Cover and cook on medium flame till vegetables are done.
Half crush (optional) the fried bori/ sundried lentil dumplings and add it to the shukto.
Garnish with 1 tsp ghee and take it off fire.
Happy cooking ! 🙂
Cheers !! 😀