Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shukto - A simple Bengali Homely Food

Shukto invokes mixed feelings to me. And it almost took me 6 years to write about this recipe.Wonder why? The reason, this is not a frequent star recipe in our home. This one is only restricted to our weekend elaborate cooking affair when I rarely take pictures for the blog.So even if I cook, I forget to take pictures or my folks being hungry and impatient, taking picture is something that comes last on my mind.
As far as I can recall, I have never liked shukto in my growing up years and my Ma always used to scold me for this. Well every mother does that. Isn’t?

Anyhow, I don’t know why there’s such a paradigm shift now. I have slowly started liking shukto these days. My dear daughter has also started liking the taste and flavor but, she always takes out the bitter gourd pieces from it and eats rest of the veggies. Now shukto without “uche” or “korola” is unimaginable but everybody has their own means to make or do things according to ones own taste-bud. And also eating should be a pleasure just like cooking and not a punishment.

Every home has its own way of making a particular recipe and to call ones this is “authentic” is not suitable. I have always said please use your own instinct and ingredients which your family prefers. But there are basic guidelines for making shukto, so just thought of writing this here. I know there are possibly many shukto recipes out there, nothing to be surprised; every one is doing their best job in satisfying the taste buds of their own family members.
My mother is very vocal about "radhuni" in her traditional Bengali cooking; actually she always complains now that she doesn’t get fresh supply of radhuni anymore, her shukto never tastes the same. Now to my knowledge I have never understood the value because while growing up I rarely noticed these culinary inputs, but the scenario today is different as I have now become a mother myself and cooking now is my job or rather should I say more appropriately a responsibility. I also can’t recall when was the last time I saw radhuni in my Ma’s pantry or that usual "panch phoron" with radhuni as one ingredient.

Radhuni- belonging to family Apiaceae is genus- Trachyspermum species- roxburghianum… and is a native angiosperm plant from south-east Asia, particularly Bengal in India. It is also known as "अजमोद  in Hindi.
There is a substitute in celery seeds which also belongs to same family Apiaceae.And to be honest till today I haven’t used neither of them in making shukto.But there are people like my Ma who says shukto without radhuni is incomplete. Anyways the debate will go on. And when craving occur, one should go ahead with whatever ingredients are available in ones own pantry.

Now my mother who is very keen in using radhuni in her shukto preparations says “radhuni is kind of soft to touch, not the usual seed type-( she is right ,actually it's a dried fruit not seed) and adds  a lovely smell after it’s being added to shukto”….and she used to get radhuni supply easily in UP, about a decade ago. But over these days even in Bengal radhuni cultivation is limited, hence radhuni as an ingredient in “probashi cooking”-(if you all would allow me to use this term) is almost completely stopped or is a rare commodity these days….radhuni or no radhuni , over a period of time I have started to make shukto the way we like to eat without radhuni or with out celery seeds, the ones used these days as substitute of radhuni here in abroad.
However in my short stay in Kolkata, I have never seen even my ma-in-law using radhuni for her shukto preparations or in any other “phoron”/tempering process. People residing in Kolkata if you have found authentic radhuni then please share where we can buy them.

Shukto, if I am allowed to say, have evolved in to two forms – one is “Ghoti shukto” and the other one is “Bangal shukto”.And then there are "dudh shukto ", “bori shukto”, “neem pata shukto” etc. With so many variations and ingredient list, I think every home has its own way of making shukto- some even add green chilies, nothing to be surprised.  
I have seen my ma-in-law making her shukto with shorshe, dudh /milk,ginger/ada and panch phoron powder,posto is not added. I have asked my ma about shukto recipe couple of year’s back; her way is slightly different from my ma-in-laws way as she doesn't add milk to it , but trust me both the ways they taste great.

Over these years this recipe that is being shared here is how I have improvised both the recipes almost to an extent that it has become a new recipe for shukto to us.
So, this is how I like to make shukto in my small apartment kitchen far away from home and I really don’t know if ever my daughter is going to make shukto once she grows up. And that too depends on what ingredients will be available to her and how much time she will be having in her hand to cook.

Ok somebody even told me there is ready-made “shukto moshla” packet available these days in Kolkata. All problems solved then. And in case you still want to make it all from scratch then please go ahead and read below.
Now to the recipe

Recipe requirements (serves-5-6)
Panch-mishali vegetables ( 5 types of vegetables ) -in combination from this following list
  • 1 Kanch kola- raw or green banana
  • 1 cup of chopped  Green papaya/ Pepen 
  • ½ Mulo/white radish or 8-10 red radish
  • 9-10 Sojne data/ drumsticks pieces of roughly 1-2 inch
  • Aloo/potato
  • Mishti aloo/ranga aloo/sweet potato
  • Begun/brinjal/eggplant
  • Potol/parwal/pointed gourd
  • Sheem/hyacinth
  • Jhinge/ridge gourd
  • Borboti /beans or may use yard long beans
  • Uche/Korola/bitter gourd- Uche is different from Korola

For the wet moshla
  • 2-3 heaped tbs of poppy seeds
  • 1 tbs of brown mustard seeds or yellow mustard seeds

Soak poppy seeds and mustard seeds in enough water. Grind them well. Or use the mustard powder recipe from Here to be added later on at the end when the dry moshla powder will be sprinkled and mixed.
Now for the tempering part/phoron for shukto 
  • 1 tsp of panch phoron or radhuni if available
  • 2 tej pata or bay leaf
  • 3-4 tbs of cooking oil- mustard oil adds more flavors
  • 1 tsp of ginger grated or ½ tsp of paste
  • 1 cup of bori/wadi/lentil dumpling

For the dry moshla powder
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds/mouri
  • 1 tsp of methi/fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • or may use 2-4 tsp of panch phoron 

Dry grind the above listed.
And must is sugar and ghee according to taste.I have added 3 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of ghee.
 1/3 cup of milk diluted with water making it almost 1 to 1 and half cups or use more to make it 2 cups for more gravy in shukto.


  • Chop all the vegetables in equal and proportionate length.I generally chop the vegetables lengthwise. My Ma does in small cubes -all the vegetables in equal cubes. Whatever suits do it but equal pieces help in even cooking.
  • Now cut biter gourd and marinate them in little bit of turmeric powder and salt. If you don’t like to use turmeric powder, skip it and only salt is fine.
  • Leave it aside for half an hour.
  • Heat up a saucepan/kadai.
  • Add shorsher tel/mustard oil.
  • Fry the bori/wadi/lentil dumplings first .Take out in a bowl.(I have used small bori/wadi as that is what I got here). They should be evenly fried turning them light-brown in colour.And they drink loads of tel/oil so make sure you add enough Oil while frying them.TIP- Dunk them in a bowl of water and add them at the end when the vegetables are already cooked, this way they wont turn soggy or break apart.
  • Fry the bitter gourd /korola pieces for 3 -4 mints, bit not burning them. Some even fry them very well- like “kora korey bhaja”, somehow I like it mild fry.
  • To the same oil, add more oil.
  • Now add in panch phoron and tej patta.Add ginger paste or grated ginger.
  • Add in all the vegetables, the vegetables which needs little bit of more frying goes first like- green banana, potato, drumstick, radish, sweet potato, hyacinth /sheem and the ones which are soft vegetables goes later like ridge gourd and brinjal.My ma-in-law don’t even fry the brinjal, but I have to do this in abroad, some how found that if they are not properly fried they don’t absorb the flavor.
  • Keep on frying for 7-8 mints at medium to high flame or till they turn soft. Add about 2 cups of water.Cover and cook the vegetables.
  • Add in fried bori/wadi and bitter gourd pieces.
  • Cover it and let it cook further4-5 mints. After a while you will see that all the water is absorbed and vegetables are cooked.
  • Now add in poppy seeds and mustard paste to it. Add in diluted milk with water about 1- 2 cups. (now it depend on the gravy you want, generally we like little “runny- Patla shukto”, so I add more milk and water to the gravy, more the fact as bori/wadi tends to soak the gravy quite fast so need to add enough water and milk).If you haven’t used the mustard paste earlier, then you may sprinkle dry mustard powder now- recipe can be found Here
  • And in 1tsp of ghee and sugar about 2-3 tsp, let it cook further 4-5 mints at med-low flame. Since mustard has been added, don’t cook much now.
  • Take it off and then lastly sprinkle the dry moshla powder or (fennel+fenugreek+cumin seeds)  or the usual panch phoron powder and mix well. Let it cool a bit and serve with warm cooked rice. Actually shukto is eaten when it’s not hot and at room temperature, sometimes even cold.

In shukto turmeric powder is not added and is a pale color preparation.Many call this Shukto preparation as "Bori shukto" or "data shukto" as well.However if you feel to add colour then go ahead and add turmeric powder.And a request is please do not add Gajor/carrot to shukto.Even if you don't have other vegetables.
The recipe shared is how we like to make our "Shukto", there may be slight variations in every home, follow your own instinct and please use this recipe as mere guidelines.

Further reference for shukto-
Here , Krishokolee's KitchenShukto-almost-pictorial- at BongmomShukto - at Cook like a Bong,
Shukto-bitter-vegetable-curry at Homemaker's Diary

Happy Cooking Friends


  1. First time i saw this recipe was ina fb in a group and your's look so good too.

    1. Finla,
      Which FB group Finla? ..thanks for coming by..hugs

  2. Mixed veggie recipe sounds interesting,sure must be flavorful with poppy seeds and punch phoron,thanks for sharing this authentic dish.

    1. Suja,
      We crave for it now..don't know how this change happened but trust me this is simple pleasures of life ..a simple homely food..hugs

  3. Sukto asadharon baniyecho, dekhe taste korte ichhe korche....so yummy. Amar fav sukto dekhle lov samlano jay na truely..

    Today's recipe:

  4. This dish was a big no no for me during my childhood. It was only after my marriage my FIL scolded me for not having this essential meal of Bengali rannaghor :-)Jaya this time I asked my hubby to get a small packet of shukto. Since we live in Gariyahat so he could manage to get a packet of it from Gariyahat Market.

    1. I would say at least my daughter is better,she likes eating other vegetables in Shukto but mostly takes out korola/bitter gourd pieces :-)..at least something is better than nothing which was my case..Hain seyi to aajkaal to sab ready-made moshla packet paba jache Kolkata te..mustad powder, dhokar dalna mix, shukto powder and what not ..but still I do feel if made from scratch it retains some great flavours..thanks for coming by Deepa ..hugs

  5. All I can say is beautiful! and perfect. I LOVE shukto and crave for it so bad that I made me some at 8 in the evening last night.

    1. :-)..sotti ekhon amar O eyi hoye ..jeyi sab pochondo kortaam na khete choto belaye..I crave it for them now and wish it should appear like magic..khunti na nerey hoye jeto to koto bhalo hoto ..amra ekto patla shukto kori Soma- ghono noye kenona amar Ma and Ma-in-law dui jone he ekto jhol rakhe..bhaat'er sathe bhalo lagey..so good to see you ..hugs

  6. Looks super comforting, with loads of veggies wish i would love to have it just rite now.

  7. Ah sukto khete je kina bhalo lage amar...ami o uchee beche khai...:-)

    1. :-)..uche beche amar meye O khaye..thanks

  8. The shukto looks perfect.I am a great fan of shukto too and craving for it right now.An authentic recipe.

    I have a blog and presently featuring Pujo Special Recipes to spice up your festival days.Please do visit.Thankyou.


    1. Sure Sonali..will visit and wish you a very happy Durga Puja..

  9. Jaya, tomader shobai ke janai Pujor onek onek shubhechcha. Shukto'r mohottwo ami aj obdi bujhini !

    1. Tumake O onek Shubecha Sandeepa..poery hotey parey bhalo lagbe :-)..hugs

  10. Thanks for pinging back to my Shukto post :)

  11. Dry moshla taa ki khub e dorkar..
    Naa dile ki taste e kono forok aashbe neki..plz tell

    1. Amader ghorao ranna- jeyi ta amra boli roj'er ranna...Ote eyi dry moshla ta onek samay ami add kori na ...obosho if you have options do add in , eyi ta add korle ekta moshlaar bhalo flavour add hoye ...na korle avoid korte paro ..kono hard n fast rule neyi :-)..ok ..ranna and khaba nijer anando r jonne hoba uschit ..theek to :-)....

  12. I tried it ,..was awesome......thank uuuuuu .....Daruuuuun

  13. Hi I stay in Kolkata and we are foodies. Radhuni is very easily available here .....any market Gariahat Lake Market Tollygunje just ask for it. Frankly even we cant think of sukto without radhuni....it has amazing flavour.

  14. Hello dear Nice Blog and Nice bengali recipe.I Love sukto very much.And your Sukto recipe looks very tasty.I am also a Food Blogger and I am a Bengali Too.I have also some Bengali food recipes in my blog.You can checkout my Blog https://www.easylifeforeveryone.com/
    Here In my blog you can find not only Bengali recipes you can find GLOBAL FOOD RECIPES FROM THE WORLD FOOD CUISINE.Thanks again for this wonderful traditional Bengali Recipe "Sukto".


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