Bengali-Style “Shukto” (“Shukto” Recipe)

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“Shukto” Recipe | Bengali-Style “Shukto”

Shukto is a traditional and iconic Bengali dish that holds a special place in every Bengali meal, particularly during festive gatherings and special occasions. This dish has deep-rooted historical and cultural significance in Bengali cuisine and is often considered an integral part of Bengali heritage. While references to Shukto can be found in ancient Bengali literature, it was in later years that the dish came to be known specifically as “Shukto.”

In the olden days, Shukto was made with a variety of vegetables, such as brinjal, pumpkin, raw banana, drumstick, and bitter gourd, flavored with ground mustard and poppy seeds. However, over time, Bengalis have adapted and customized Shukto to suit their tastes and preferences.

Bengali cuisine is characterized by its unique flavor combinations, especially the balance between bitterness, sweetness, and spiciness. Shukto embodies this perfectly. The traditional ingredients include radhuni, mustard seeds, poppy seeds, and coconut milk, which create the distinctive flavors of the dish. Shukto is known for its bittersweet taste, achieved by using vegetables with slightly bitter undertones.

Ingredients for Shukto:

  • 2 medium-sized Radhuni (wild celery) roots.
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes.
  • Half portion of raw papaya.
  • 1 raw banana.
  • 1 brinjal (eggplant).
  • 1 medium-sized bitter gourd (karela).
  • 7 broad beans (shim).
  • 3 Indian jujubes (ber).
  • 100 grams of Bengal gram flour fritters (bodi).
  • 3 small pieces of ginger.
  • 3 teaspoons of mustard seeds.
  • 3 teaspoons of poppy seeds.
  • 2 teaspoons of grated coconut.
  • Betel leaves as required.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon of radhuni.
  • 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (methi).
  • 1 teaspoon of asafoetida (hing).
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 2 cups of cow’s milk.
  • 1 cup of coconut milk.
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon of ghee.

Instructions for Preparing Shukto:

  • Begin by cutting the radhuni roots into long pieces of about 6 segments and soak them in water.
  • Cut the potatoes into 6 pieces each, just like before, and also soak them in water.
  • Slice the raw papaya into thin pieces, remove the seeds from the brinjal, and cut it into pieces similar in size to the potatoes, all of which should be soaked in water.
  • Slice the bitter gourd, karela, in a way that keeps some seeds attached.
  • Broad beans, or shim, should be partially split.
  • Cut the raw banana into pieces similar in size to the potatoes.
  • Take the Indian jujubes, ber, and slice them without completely separating the segments.
  • Prepare small fritters with Bengal gram flour.
  • Grind the ginger, mustard seeds, poppy seeds, and grated coconut with some water to form a paste.
  • Take a deep pan and, one by one, boil the radhuni roots, potatoes, karela, and broad beans for 2-3 minutes each. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same pan, fry radhuni, fenugreek seeds, and asafoetida in some of the oil used for frying the vegetables. Add the paste of ginger, mustard seeds, poppy seeds, and coconut. Mix for about 1 minute.
  • Add the remaining vegetables, Indian jujubes, and fritters to the paste. Stir gently.
  • Pour cow’s milk and coconut milk, and allow it to cook for around 1 minute.
  • Add salt and sugar according to taste.
  • Sprinkle radhuni and ghee for a unique aroma.

Shukto is a quintessential Bengali dish, and its preparation is a true art that showcases the distinct flavor profile of Bengali cuisine. It is a dish that balances a variety of vegetables, the spiciness of mustard and poppy seeds, and the bittersweet taste created by ingredients such as karela and ber. Shukto is an essential part of Bengali culture and traditions, cherished for its unique taste and historical significance.

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