Shukto is a Traditional Bengali recipe. Shukto is made with different types of vegetables. However, it derives its distinctive flavor from one vegetable in particular: Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon, also known as Karela in Hindi. It is a vegetable stew or you could also call it a bitter gourd stew or bitter melon stew.
Yet, still Shukto has a medley of different flavors and taste. You have the bitter taste of bitter gourd with the unique individual tastes of the different vegetables in it. I have never had Shukto in my life. The only bengali dishes I have had are baingan bhaja, rosogulla, sandesh and mishti doi.
Bengalis have their own rich cuisine, but I never got an opportunity to partake from this cuisine nor I have made any bengali dishes except baingan bhaja, sandesh, cholar dal, luchi and matar kachori.
There are many versions of Shukto recipes on the internet. Personally, I do not know which one is authentic or right. So I decided to take this shukto recipe from the book – The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking.
There was a reason for this. This book has some Bengali recipes. I have made a couple of non-bengali recipes from the book like bhatura, gobhi aloo and the results were too good. So i thought there was no harm in trying the bengali recipes from the book. I don’t know if the recipe from the book is authentic or not. Since we found the recipe to be good, hence I have posted it.
For me, this shukto, somewhat had a faint similarity and tasted like avial. This is my own personal opinion. Since the recipe uses curd unlike other recipes on the internet. Its healthy, sattvic, nutritious and a complete food when you have it with chapatis or rice.
You could use vegetables that you have in your kitchen. I used cabbage and bottlegourd even though the recipe does not mention it. I used carrots too. I did not have brinjals and caulifower as given in the original recipe. So its alright to use the vegetables you have.
The recipe uses the famous bengali medley of 5 spices: Panch Phoron/Panch Phoran. More on Panch Phoron on this link: Panch Phoron
Shukto recipe details below:
- 2 or 3 Bittergourd/karelas
- ½ cup chopped cabbage/cauliflower
- ½ cup chopped beans/or ¼ cup peas
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped potatoes
- ½ cup squash or eggplant or bottlegourd
- 3 tbsp ghee
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 inch ginger piece
- 1-2 fresh chillies. I used 1 chilli
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp panch phoron
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp asafoetida
- 1 cup plain curd/yoghurt
- Peel the skin of the bitter gourd and cut them into 1 inch cubes
- Heat 2 tbsp ghee. Fry the fenugreek seeds for 3o seconds.
- Then add all the chopped vegetables.
- Add the bay leaves and stir-fry the vegetables for 5 minutes on a medium flame. Turn them gently.
- Now pour half of the water, cover the pan and cook the veggies on a medium heat for 10 mins.
- In a mortar and pestle or in blender, grind together the cumin seeds, ginger, chillies, turmeric with a few drops of water. Make a smooth masala paste.
- Heat the remaining 1 tbsp ghee in a pan. Add the masala paste and stir fry for a minute or two.
- Then add the panch phoron, coriander powder and asafoetida. Stir for a few seconds.
- Pour the remaining water into the masala and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
- Empty the liquid masala into the cooking veggies and continue cooking over medium heat for 15 to 2o minutes, stiriring every now and then, until the veggies become tender.
- Finally, fold in the yoghurt and salt. Stir and toss gently to mix the spices and sauce evenly with the vegetables. Simmer for a minute uncovered as you do not want the yoghurt to spilt.
- Serve Shukto as a main dish with rice or chapati, phulkas, parathas.