Friday, 9 October 2009

Shukto / Traditional Bengali dish of mixed vegetables

The days are pure mayhem. After the fast flying days of Durga Puja ... the hangover still exists ... come the preparations for Diwali. The rain gods have played spoilsports successfully ... it has been just one day that they have finally ... hopefully ... abated.

The air is crisp and the sky very blue. And finally got the "pujo pujo" smell ... that fragrance in the air that we usually feel just before Durga Puja ( there I go again).

Got to come back down to mother earth. Since cooking is minimal these days .... always a stew with lots of veggies and lentils ... with different temperings or herbs .... and I whip up an egg for myself .... so almost nothing to post.

But I have been getting so many recipe requests that it would be unfair if I did not post them. My readers have been waiting patiently ... and I had promised them that once Puja is over I'll start posting.

So here I am with one such request from Vaishnavi for the Shukto.

This Bengali dish is made of vegetables cooked in a light milk & mustard based gravy. There are different versions of Shukto when I looked up the web. But the one my Jethima makes is my favourite .... for obvious reasons.

As is the story with almost anybody, when growing up nobody is too fond of this dish. For one ... it is full of vegetables. Secondly ... it has Karela or the Bitter Gourd. So even after being served, it is steered clear of and remains in the plate even after the meal is over ... the vegetables lying all lonely and forlon and rejected.

But you grow up ... you move away from home .... you miss home made food .... and then you start to miss Shukto. You call home ... you call long forgotten aunts and relatives ... just to get hold of that recipe that will make your shukto just like your Ma / Mashi / Jethima / Kakima made.

My Jethima says that a Shukto is not one until it has Radhuni in it. I do not know what Radhuni is called in English (can anybody help me out here please ?) ... but it does look like the jeera / cumin seeds.

So here is my recipe for the Shukto.

Remember ...
* The karela / bitter gourd is compulsory. You can add almost any vegetable you want to. I used whatever I had at hand.

* No tomatoes in this dish.

* You can add bori / vadi / bodi too ... if you have them. Check out my two posts on how to make bodi / vadi / bori ... in an oven ... and the traditional way.

* Traditionally, all the vegetables are deep fried seperately ... the karela being the last to be fried.
If you don't want to go into that step ... then just fry the karelas seperately .... that way they lose a little of their bitterness and the whole dish does not get too bitter.

* Always dilute and strain the mustard paste ... that way it won't taste bitter ... especially if you are using the bigger seeds.
If you still unsure, add a little posto / poppy seeds to it when soaking and grind them together. That will take out the sharpness of the mustard.

Need : Vegetables - Raw banana (raw plaintain),
Potato, Drumsticks, Paanch phoron,
Karela / bitter gourd, Lauki / Lau/ bottle gourd,
Turai / Jhinge / Ridge gourd, Brinjal / eggplant, etc. etc. ,
Mustard paste ( soak mustard seeds overnight, grind into a paste, add some water and strain it ),

a little milk, a few pieces of bori / bodi / vadi ( I have used my oven made boris here ),
ginger paste,
jeera / cumin paste ( if you have powdered jeera then soak in in some water ... do not use the roasted jeera),
salt and sugar to taste, a little cooking oil and a little ghee.
If you have Radhuni - make a paste and use it instead of the jeera paste
And some Radhuni seeds in the phoron/ tempering

How to : Cut the vegetables into medium sized pieces lengthwise.

Heat a little oil and fry the boris / bodi / vadis (if using) till brown. Remove , half crush them and keep aside.

Add a little more oil to it and fry the karela with a little salt till well done. Remove and keep aside.

In a different kadahi or wok, heat a little oil. Add a little paanch phoron. Add all the cut vegetables and toss well.
Add a little salt ... just enough for the vegetables.

Add the ginger and jeera pastes and fry well for a while. Add a little water if necessary and cover. Cook for 5 minutes.

Remove cover and add the diluted mustard paste with enough water to make a gravy. Adjust salt and add sugar .... this dish is not supposed to be too salty.

Cover and cook till the vegetables are well done.

Remove cover and add the fried karela and the boris. The bori / bodi / vadi tends to soak up water ... so add more if necessary. Bring to a boil till gravy reaches desired consistency.

Add a little milk ( for the above amount of veggies I used around a quarter of a medium sized cup ) and remove from flame.
If you keep on boiling after this the milk might curdle.

Add a spoonful of ghee, stir a little and keep it covered for some time before serving.

Serve hot with steamed rice.
Enjoy !!

( The first photograph has been recently added ... when I finally made the Shukto with Radhuni.
   Absolutely loved the authentic, traditional taste. )

There are a few more request recipes lined up. I promise them soon ... very soon. Till then ... take care all. :-)


  1. Looks delicious especially with those boris. I have got to try this. I actually like bitter gourd. Will the dijon mustard that we get here work?

  2. A very nutritious medley.what kind of mustard seeds do you use?Is it black,the ones used in tadka?

  3. Lovely dish with an array of vegetables. Completely new to me, would love to try out soon.

  4. Dear Sharmila

    Haven't read yet, just feel like eating right now after seeing the pic I am appreciating Sharmila the photographer...What camera do you use??
    Will see the recipe soon...Karela is in our daily diet and sukto twice a week''let me see what variation is there to take an excursion from the regular sukto we make ...
    try my Karela chicken kebab...some time. ( It is a wastage of chicken and karela though , but I like it )

    Have a nice weekend


  5. thnks for teh recipe ,..looks delish...

  6. what you wrote would be so true for me too Sharmila. I would never touch Shukto while growing up in cal. First had it in the Hotel new Bengal thali when i shifted at cal.

    We made it a few times recently with Cookme shukto mix that I picked up in my last visit to Kolkata

  7. Sharmaila,
    Shukto is one of my favorites, I just love the smell, taste and texture of all the vegetables together. My mom makes quite a variation of shukto and I just love all.
    The one with milk (that you made)we call it dudh shukto at home, and other shuktos include dui lauer shukto, chalkhumror shukto, and so on.
    The next time I prepare a different type of shukto would surely post it on my blog and I hope you won't mind if I put your link in the "Further reading" column.

  8. Not a fan of bitter gourd and it's a must here?! Love the masala in this.

  9. i have heard a lot about Shukto...even sanjeev kappor gives it a ton of credit in his recipe books....somehow karela...gulp.
    can i please leave it out?? i know its an essential...but still :(

  10. Sharmila,
    i liked shukto very much ..n i was never fussy about it...bori/sajne data shukto is my are gorgeous:)
    hugs and smiles

  11. Obviously I don't have much knowledge about Bengali cuisine. I did not know of this dish but the name itself sounds interesting:). I like the step by step approach. It gets a little hectic but really helps the reader. Looking at these delicacies I really feel we should meet up soon!!:D

  12. Never liked shukto as a kid and now I pester my kids to eat it.

    Last time I made shukto,( exactly like yours...except I did not put jeera paste) I forgot to add the ginger. My mother in law was most unhappy:( She said "ekdom i shuktor moto khete hoy ni")

    No idea what Radhuni is called in english. In fact no idea what it is called in hindi either. Have not seen any body else except bengalis use it.

  13. Thanks ISG! :-)
    Am not sure about the dijon mustard ... since it has some strong flavours like garlic etc. which might come in the way of the mild milk and mustard flavour. Besides I think the vinegar or white wine in it might curdle the milk.

    Thanks Yasmeen! I use the big sized mustard seeds ... yes the black ones for tadka. :-)

    Thanks A2z! :-)

    Thanks Mr. Ushnish! I use a Canon. :-)

    Thanks Priyanka! :-)

    Thanks Kalyan! That mix is on my pick up list on the next visit home. :-)

    Thanks Sudeshna! I won't mind. :-)

    Thanks Vani! You can give it a try without the karela too ... why miss out on something new for a little bitter karela? :-)

    Thanks Rush! Go ahead Rush. Life is all about experimenting and experiencing. Chuck that karela out and enjoy the shukto. :-)

    Thanks Jaya! Amar o sajne data khub bhalo lage. :-)

    Thanks Harini! A thought after my own heart ... let's plan. :-)
    You are right ... the step by step approach is really tough ... but this was a request ... so thought it would be explained better this way. :-)

  14. Thanks Aparna! Tell you what .. I have always hated radhuni .. and now I want to know how it tastes. :p
    The use of jeera paste is very uncommon ... very few people use it. My jethima said I can use it in place of radhuni ... gives a slightly similar flavour. :-)

  15. I've heard so much about shukto but never made it. Thank you, thank you for this delicious recipe. I love that the veggies are flexible, and I have some bitter gourd in my fridge, so I'm going to definitely try this!

  16. I had heard so much about shukto and I am so thrilled to see it here... Is milk and karela necebssary ? I am sure I will love it without the karela... Have to try when my MIl comes. She will be impressed...
    Those pix are something... Very nicely done post!

  17. Dear Sharmila
    Randhuni is wild celery, dried tiny fruits(popularly called seeds).
    So one can use Celery seeds too.
    Some names
    Wild Celery
    Hindi: अजमॊड़ Ajmod •
    Tamil: Asamtavomam •
    Malayalam: Ayamodakam •
    Telugu: Ajumoda, Vamu •
    Kannada: Ajamodhavoma •
    Bengali: Randhuni,
    Botanical name: Trachyspermum roxburghianum Family: Apiaceae (Carrot family)
    There may be many botanical names and let me not make it a botany class can use Celery seeds, if this is not available.


  18. Do try it Vaishali ... you can skip the milk and add some diluted poppy seeds paste for the flavour ( sorry I forgot to add a vegan option). :-)

    Thanks Somoo! Well ... you can surely skip them if you want to ... but make sure the mustard paste is diluted enough and the quantity should be less ... else it will turn into 'besara'. Also use some diluted posto paste for the mildness. :-)

    Thanks so much Mr. Ushnish! That was a real help. :-)

  19. Dear Sharmila,

    Thank you so much for this. I appreciate how difficult it must be to cater to requests at such a busy time. I am planning to try this - as a first step, boris are already cooking in my oven!

    Will of course let you know how it goes. Thanks again!

  20. Thanks for leaving a line here Vaishnavi! Makes my efforts worthwhile. :-)
    I think you are the first one to try making my oven baked boris ... I'd love to know how they turn out.
    And hope your shukto will turn out great too. :-)

  21. Sharmila,

    look what wiki has to say about Radhuni..

    Radhuni taste more like "ajwain"in Hindi/In Bengali jeta ke amra "Jowan" Boli ... due to the strong flavour n they belong to same family I guess..

    although I have very rarely used radhuni in preparing panch phoron as I seldom see them in grocery stores now ...hope it helps..

    and shukto te amaar maa jeere/ada/posto bata diye hi banaye ..abaar ma-in-law jeere/dhone goron ar panch phoron goron diye banaye,milk/mustard remains same...both the way it taste so good..
    hugs and smiles

  22. Sharmila unlike most, i used to love shukto & still do. Ekhane amar bangali ranna beshi korina, but this i do VERY often, esp. ekhon bagane karela.

    radhuni ke english ki bolay janina, kintu it tastes & smells a lot like celery seeds we get here. ami oitai use kori. amar ma milk er shathe 1/2 teaspoon moton maida guley dito, she had see the thakurs in our house (during weddings) do it. makes the jhol little thick.. not really thick, don't know how to explain. my kids will eat all the veggies from this!! following my good footsteps I guess.

  23. Thanks Jaya .. for coming back wiht this info. I don't get radhuni here ... but yes, barite paanch foron e radhuni use hoto.
    And shuktor eto variety je authentic shukto bolte kake bojhaye ami o jani na. :-)

    Thanks Soma! I know oneke maida use kore ... but if you are using posto, then it thickens naturally ... ar maida dorkar hoye na.
    Besides bori drinks up a lot of water ... so that usually watery feel anyway disappears. :-)
    You are a good mommy ... setting good examples for your kiddos. :-)

  24. Sahrmila, Joya and Soma
    Jowan or Ajawain are very different from Randhuni ( Ajmod or Ajmuda). are not interchangeable in their uses.
    Use Celery seeds, for the same effect as Randhuni. (Randhuni is a type of Celery)
    Basically the fragrance in a Sukto comes from the combination of a strong spice PhoDon ( seasoning) and Ginger. Panch Phodon is the strongest spice having the strong fragrance of Mouri, Methi and all. In Oriya cuisines, combination phoDon (PhuntaNa) is an art (It can be single , 2,3, 4 and 5 PhoDon with very different effect).
    Sharmila has used Jeera bata to enhance jeera note. I put few seeds of Methi and Mouri with jeere to make the paste. One of my friends wife had once surprised me with Sukto, using a dash of roasted PaNch PhoDon Powder at the end and no Karela (In Korea) .

    At the end as Sharmila said, there is no end to type of Shukto..Use strong spice and ginger combination as main spice, you can get rid of the Karela if you dont like bitter taste..still you will feel you are eating Sukto.

  25. @Sharmila..: Yes I forgot to mention that the maida is used when posto is not:-)

    @ Ushnish Ghosh : I did say that Radhuni is Celery seeds (or closest).. ajwain is way different & except for the looks, no where near radhuni.

  26. hey so many posts i see here..missed them all...not getting your feed on my reader...anyway i have not been doing anything for very long now but this shukto i love...but there is one problem...i like it as it is not with roti or chawal...:)
    and i'll try n follow your exact recipe sometime ...

  27. Amar Ma methi, tejpata ar hing phoron dey, abar saur bari te paanch phoron dey. Radhuni amar baritey nei

    Shorshe bata+dudh ar sabji gulo ek i rokom thake. Tobey shukto amar temon bhalo o lagena, eto hype keno bujhi na :-)

  28. Good to see you back Sangeeta! :-)

    Sandeepa ... amio shukto bhalobashi na :p Oi hype er jonne bolte shahosh pai na. Eta request chilo tai post korlam ... nahole banano e hoye na. :-)

  29. Finally I managed to make this today, with the oven-baked boris. In my hubby's words, it is "one of the best shuktos he has ever eaten"! All credit goes to you, thank you!

  30. Am so glad you could make and enjoy it Vaishnavi! Thanks for letting me know. :-)

  31. yummy....lovely dish...i saw the site after soo busy wth dozen of stuff....m glad to get thos recipie when m!!


  32. Known as radhuni in Bengali (Bengali: রাধুনি), is often confused with celery and is known as wild celery in English

  33. From long time serchin for this dish :)

  34. Radhuni means what? Pls ans me

  35. Hi Naaz Tasnim! You can go through the comments above ... a lot of people have given Radhuni's description and other names.


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