Today is my second session with Bengali traditional veg items. While thinking of the veggies and their authentic recipes I realized we, Bengalis actually have more varieties in veg than we have in non-veg. I was wondering what should be my next project and found out my pantry is full with fresh veggies like sweet pumpkin, bottle gourd, bitter gourd etc. While I was looking for a mix-veg or something similar to that suddenly I realized I’m forgetting about one of our popular preparations which is truly ours. None of our platter on any occasions is complete without it, be it wedding, birthday, anniversary, baby shower, naming ceremony, spinster meal… .you name the occasion and try to peep in the menu card, you will always find ‘Shukto’ there on the top of the list.
I already got a ‘happy happy’ feelings as I was going to have that ‘biye bari shukto’ today. And top of all, I had all the ingredients available in my pantry. All I needed to do was just to call up my mom and got her special ‘biye-bari’ recipe. Everything got executed in a fine way. I got my veggies chopped, got recipe written down, veggies got fried and neatly done, but suddenly I realized I have a very uncommon name in the list i.e ‘Radhuni’. I was in the middle of a mess (Ohh not again!) as I had no idea what it is or where I should head to get it!!! Tried to get in touch with my mom repeatedly but no fortune was there for me. When I almost finalized to scrap the project of the day suddenly I got my friend Mona online. And without wasting any good time I asked her about that “radhuni’. And as always she dint disappoint me. By calling me up immediately, she not only explained me everything but she also gave me the green light (ofcourse without the ‘radhuni’). And I proceeded with my fingers crossed to prepare one of our hot favorite preparations, Shukto.
Potato: 1 (cubed)
Pumpkin: 150 gms. (cubed)
Bitter gourd: 1 (cubed)
Bottle gourd: ½ (cubed)
Dry red chilli: 4/5 (strictly for chilli lovers like me; rest of you, please skip this step)
Eggplant: 1/3 (cubed)
“Panch foron”: 1 ½ tsp
(Methi seeds, Cumin seeds, Nigella seeds, White mustard seeds, Funnel seeds)
Black peppercorn: 4-5
Coconut paste: ½ tea cup
Poppy seed paste: 4 tbsp (use 5-6 green chilli and 4 tsp poppy seed and as little water as possible to make a fine paste of it)
Cashew paste: 1 tsp
Cashew paste: 1 tsp
Mustard paste: 1 tsp
Milk: ½ tea cup
Khoya: 2 tsp
Sugar and Salt to taste
Fry all the vegetables separately with a pinch of salt. You don’t need to deep fry them. I always prefer to sauté all the vegetables in a covered pan. It saves time and energy both. (Not to forget the gas and oil too.)Once all the veggies are done, keep them aside separately.
Heat 1-2 tbsp ghee in the same pan and add dry red chilli, “Panch Foron”, and black peppercorn with little sugar. Let them crackle.
Now reduce the flame and add poppy seed paste. Keep mixing until it blends well.
Gradually add mustard paste, coconut paste and cashew paste and mix well.
Once you can see oil oozing out from the masala, add milk little by little by one hand while keep mixing it with other hand. Keep stirring to avoid sticking at the bottom.
Add water if required. Slowly increase the flame and let it boil for maximum 1 min. Adjust seasoning by adding salt and sugar at this point.
Now, it’s the show time for the veggies as they are coming back in front foot again. Add all veggies in the pan one by one and keep mixing them together with a very light hand so that veggies don’t get mashed.
In the mean while fry the ”bori” in a separate heavy bottomed pan and at this point of time add the “bori” in the veggies. Give it a very good stir.
Now add 1/2 cup warm water in the pan and mix lightly. Cover the pan for 2/3 mins and keep it on low flame. It will help veggies and “bori” to absorb the flavors.
Once you can spot oil on top of the curry along the edges of the pan, you will know your shukto is done.
Now it’s the time to turn your regular shukto into a royal one! Add the khoya with the shukto and mix with a very light hand. Be careful not to make your curry messy. If you are worried about it is always better to perform this step directly on the serving bowl.
Fill up your bowl with shukto and sprinkle the khoya on top along with ghee. Though I don’t like khoya chunks on top of my shukto, whenever I’m in hurry I actually do this trick. And trust me, it never turn me down, not a single time. So, enjoy!!! ◕‿◕