Shukto is a popular dish in Bengali cuisine. Shukto is mainly a creamy slightly sweet, and bitter taste mixed vegetable curry flavoured with ghee and Bengali five spices (called paanch phoron). To make this dish we need to use 3 most important ingredients, 1. bitter gourd,2. milk, and 3. ghee. Even in masalas, Bengali five spice mainly radhuni masala (wild celery seeds) is one more important ingredient that is used to flavour this dish. It tastes awesome and the aroma of shukto gets in the air while serving with white rice and ghee at the beginning of any traditional Bengali lunch menu. Even we bong love to have sukto in Durga Puja, Bengali marriage feasts, Baby showers, or Rice ceremonies but Bengali “biye barir shukto” has huge popularity among all of these.
In shukto recipe, apart from bitter gourd (uchche, korola or karela), drumsticks (sojna danta), raw bananas (kacha kola), raw papayas (kacha pepe), sweet potatoes, brinjals, raddish or muloo, potatoes are also used. Even a few more vegetables can be added to this dish, i.e., flat beans(seem), bottle gourd or lau, ridge gourd or jhinge, etc. Dal er bori (called Lentil Dumplings in English and Dal Badi in Hindi) is one more important ingredient if want to make a traditional shukto (sukto) recipe. These fried dal er bori enhance the taste dish twice.
According to the elders, traditional Bengali lunch should start with any bitter-tasting dish. That means a dish prepared with bitter taste veggies like karela or neem leaves, such as shukto. Shukto is not only prepared with bitter gourd it is also prepared with neem leaves. Though that neem leveas shukto (called neem shukto) is mostly famous in Bangladesh and this bitter gourd shukto is mostly famous among Indian Bengalis.
Shukto is really healthy and full of vitamins as eight to nine varieties of mixed vegetables are used in this recipe. And shukto is soothing too, especially to beat the intense heat of summer. Radhuni or wild celery seed is a must used in this dish as Radhuni keeps our stomach healthy during hot summer days.
Though by following my mom’s shukto recipe, here I have used mustard and poppy seeds (paste) too. Here the addition of milk brings a creamy white gravy, ghee, and special Bengali bhaja masala creating a wonderful aroma in this dish. Many of us use wild celery seeds (radhuni) paste or powder at the beginning of cooking this recipe, but I prefer to use it later, which tastes awesome. Moreover, I have used some simple tricks to make this recipe more flavourful and delicious compared to “bengali biye barir shukto” and “Bengali restaurants shukto” recipe.
Though shukto has been a popular Bengali dish for years but does not have a clear idea about the origin of this recipe. Bengalis from West Bengal to Assam to Bangladesh have different traditional niramish recipes and shukto is one of them and a common preparation in our Bengali kitchen. Both Bangla (East and West) have this common dish with the same version, the only difference is, that we call it shukto or sukto and it is popular as “shuktoni” among the Bangladeshi people in their Bengali dialect.
Stay with me till the end of this recipe if you love shukto and get to know each and every secret in detail about this traditional niramish Bengali dish. Try this dish at home and don’t forget to let me know your valuable feedback by writing it down in the comment section below.
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Shukto recipe – bengali mixed vegetable curry with bitter gourd
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Served in: 1 hr
Served for: 8-10 people
Author: Moumita Paul
Ingredients of shukto
1 cup(Measuring cup) = 250 ml
- 1/2 cup bitter gourd (uchche or korola or karela)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 raw banana (kancha kola)
- 1 sweet potato (misti aloo)
- 1/2 of papaya (pepe)
- 2 drum sticks (sojne danta)
- 1 potato (aloo)
- 1/2 of brinjal (begun)
- 8-9 flat beans (seem)
- 20-22 dal er bori (lentil dumplings or dal badi)
- 1+1/2 tsp sugar
- 2+1/2 tbsp ghee
- 5+1/2 tbsp mustard oil
- salt(as per taste)
Ingredients for shukto masala
- 1+1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 1/2 inch ginger
- 1 green chili
- 2+1/2 tbsp grated coconut
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1+1/2 tsp radhuni or wild celery seeds
- 1+1/2 tsp paanch phoron or bengali five spice
For tempering whole spices
- 1/2 tsp paanch phoron
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 dry red chilli
How to make shukto recipe with stepwise guide
How to cut the veggies
1. First thoroughly wash all the vegetables (described in the ingredients above).
2. Peel (sweet potato, raw banana, raw papaya, and potato), and cut the veggies including brinjal cut it lengthwise ( approx 7-8 cm long) as shown in the pic below.
3. Then cut the bitter gourd around 4-5 cm long.
4. Cut both ends of flat beans, and remove the thread-like fiber, can cut it in halves or just keep it whole.
5. Cut the drumsticks 5-6 cm long and strip off its rough outer skin.
Boil the veggies
1. Then heat a pressure cooker with 1+1/2 cup of water, and bring the water to a boil.
2. When the water starts to boil, add sweet potato, raw papaya, and drumsticks to it as shown in the pic.
3. Then close the lid and wait for one whistle on a high flame.
4. When the pressure cooker gets a whistle, turn off the flame and take the cooker away from the stove.
5. Remove the clip of its lid and let the pressure cooker release its pressure automatically.
6. Once the lid opens, take a strainer and strain the water from the vegetables.
7. Keep the veggies separately to avoid overcooking.
1. Now heat a pan, place it on medium heat, let it get hot, and add mustard oil to it.
2. Once the oil gets hot, add 20-22 dal er bori to the pan and fry it to get a nice golden brown colour.
3. Remove the bori from the pan and keep it aside.
4. Then fry the bitter gourd in the same oil and fry till it gets a light golden brown texture, do not make it crispy. Remove it from the pan and keep it for later use.
5. Add flat beans to the pan and saute it from both sides for 2 mins.
6. Now add the potato and raw banana one by one and fry them for 10 mins on low flame by covering the pan with a tight lid. It will help the veggies to get cooked while frying. Then remove the veggies from the pan.
7. Then fry brinjal, and fry till it gets a nice golden brown colour. Take out the brinjal from the pan and keep it aside.
To make shukto Masala
- Take a bowl and add mustard and poppy seeds to it, add water to soak it for 10 mins.
2. After 10 mins, strain the well-soaked seeds and put it in a blender jar with ginger and green chill as shown in the pic.
3. Then add grated coconut and little water(about 1 tbsp) and blend all the ingredients together to make a smooth masala paste.
To make Shukto gravy
- Heat the same pan (used for frying the veggies), add paanch phoron (Bengali five spice), dry red chilli, and bay leaves for tempering in the hot oil, (quantity of the whole spices for tempering in oil described under the ingredients).
2. When the aroma starts coming from the paanch phoron, add the masala paste (kept in a blender) to the pan. And sauté it a little.
3. Then add cumin powder and turmeric powder to the pan and mix them well with existing masala and sauté together for a few more minutes.
4. Next, add salt and sugar to the pan and give a good stir.
5. When the oil will start separating from the masalas then add 1 cup of water to it and bring it to a boil.
6. Once the gravy starts to boil, add fried potato, raw banana, flat beans, and bhaja dal er bori to it, and stir it well. cover the pan and let it boil on a medium flame for 5 mins.
7. After 5 mins, add the pressure cooked veggies like raw papaya, sweet potatoes, and drumsticks to it. Mix it well.
8. Then add vegetable stock that comes from the pressure cooking. As shown in the pic.
9. Lastly, add fried brinjal and bitter gourd to the pan and mix it well.
10. Bring it to a boil, then add 1 cup of milk or dudh to the pan and mix it nicely. let it cook for some time as the gravy nicely gets into the veggies.
11. Now it’s time to dry roast 1+1/2 tsp radhuni and 1+1/2 tsp paanch phoron in a pan and grind it well to get its powder form. This is my secret masala for making shukto recipes.
12. When the gravy will reach to your required consistency, sprinkle this above dry roasted ground masala on the top of the gravy. As shown in the pic.
13. And lastly, add 2+1/2 tbsp of ghee or clarified butter to the gravy and give a quick mix. Cook it for just a few seconds and turn off the heat. Cover the pan with a lid to spread the aroma of ghee and roasted powdered masala all over the gravy and veggies as well.
14. Finally, your “Bengali biye barir shukto” is ready, serve this dish with steamed rice and enjoy your Bengali meal.
Tips for this recipe
- It was my Bengali biye bari or restaurant style traditional shukto recipe, for making an easy and healthy version of Bengali shukto, you can pressure cook all the veggies with fried bitter gourd and fried dal er bori. Then simply cook the boiled veggies in shukto masala as I described above.
- You may even add the vegetables as per your choice, i.e, radish, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, long yard beans, etc.
- If you want more bitterness in this dish, just sauté the bitter gourds in oil for 2-3 mins, don’t fry it too much.
- Soaking of the mustard and poppy seeds, in the beginning, will save your cooking time.