The Love for Vegetables Shukto! The Niramishi (Vegetarian – No Onion/Garlic) Day Delicacy.
You would find Shukto available in Every n All restaurants across The World who serve Bengali Cuisine!
“WE” Bengalis have diversified ourselves into two vast sub-cultures…
- The Ghoti’s – the Ey deshios ( genera having ancestors from West Bengal)
- The Bangal’s – the Oi deshios ( whose ancestors are from East Bengal (Bangladesh))
The best part of our culture is we just have a different style of Cooking…rest its all One and the same and Pujo is nearing!!!
Let’s not divert from Fun of Cooking!
- Drumsticks (Sojney Daanta) – 4 sticks (**This is the main Vegetable used in Shukto!)
- Potato (Alu) – 2 (large) or 4 (baby potatoes)
- Brinjal – 1/2 (if big ones)
- Bitter Gourd (Ucche/Karola/Karela) – 1 piece (big) or 2 -3 (if small ones)
- Raw Banana (Kacha Kola) – 1 piece
- Parval (Potol) – 2 -3 pieces * optional for people who do not like unlike me… I love it!
- Flat Bean (Seam) – 4 -5 pieces
- Green Chilli (Sobuj Lonka) – 3 (small)
- Ginger – 1/2 inch
- Mustard seeds (Sorse) – 1 tbsp
- Poppy seeds (Posto) – 1 tbsp
- The Bengali Five Spice( Paanch Poron)* – 1tbsp
- Turmeric Powder (Haldi/Holud) – 1 tsp
- Sabji Masala – 1 tbsp (My mom has a secret one.. she never tells me where she gets it from, so I call it as Mum’s Secret Spices. You may use the normal sabji masalas available in the market, I prefer Everest)
- Mustard Oil (Sorse Tel) – 6 tbsp
- Bori – a handful (Vadi – reference under “Palak Saag er Torkari“)
- Salt (noon) – taste wise
The Bengali Five Spices “Paanch Phoron” a raw dry mix of consists of fenugreek seed (methi), nigella seed (kala jeera), cumin seed (Jeera), black mustard seed (sorse) and fennel seed (sauf) in equal parts. Paanch Phoron is widely used in vegetable curry (torkari/sabji) prepared by almost all Bengali Families.
*** To convert the cooking measurements of the ingredients, click here.
Pre Cooking Preparation
- Chop the potatoes, brinjal, raw banana, parwal (potol), radish and bitter-gourds (uuche/korola) in length wise this time (vertically) into medium pieces
Don’t forget to “wash” and peel the skins off before chopping except the Brinjal and flat beans!
My Grandma (Thakuma) says that a torkari (sabji) is half cooked by the way its chopped!
So refine your chopping skills and observe your mom and other people who cook. 🙂
- For the flat beans (seam), chop off the head and foot and remove the strand from one side and keep it full
- Cut the Drumsticks into 3-4 inches in length. Make sure all your small sticks are of same size…Looks decent!
- Let the vegetables soak in a big bowl of water while we wrap up on the other part
- Slice the green chillies vertically and grate the ginger
- Dry grind the mustard seeds and the poppy seeds in the mixer/grinder for a spin to just make the dust of the mustard, it gives a good appearance and the flavors are savored ( if you get to buy the mustard powder from market, you can use that as well, maybe a tbsp)
- Place the kadai on the flame, heat it with 1/2 tbsp of oil and add the Boris(Vadi) and roast. Remove it and keep it aside
- Pour the 1/2 tbsp oil into the warm kadai, add the bitter gourd(ucche/korola) and fry till its roasted properly. Keep it aside in a plate
- Again, Pour the 3 tbsp oil into the warm kadai
- Strain the water from the chopped vegetables and add to the kadai with oil, except for the Drumsticks, to fry for about 5-7 mins (You may add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder if you wish)
- Remove the fried vegetables in a plate and keep it aside. We need it later!
- Now add the remaining oil to the warm kadai and add the Paanch Phoron… Be careful! Take a step behind immediately to avoid the oil splashes.
- Add the slices chillies, wait until you see that chillies are losing their color, add the fried vegetables to it
- Fry again for a 4 -5 mins and then add the grated ginger, mix well
- Now add turmeric, sabji masala and salt and fry for another 4-5 mins
- Add a glass of water initially and cover with the lid, let it cook for 10 mins with an interval of stirring. Remember to add salt! Keep the flame low!!!
- Once you find the water drying off, add more water and salt to taste. This is when we are to add the Mustard & Poppy seeds Powder. Sprinkle the powder over the curry and stir. Add the fried boris to it and leave it to cook. No need to cover!
- When you see the gravy is thickening up, turn off the flame and let it settle. Our Shukto is Ready! Keep a little gravy, so you can have it with rice.
Tip 1: If you have brought the drumsticks a day before or earlier than your plans to cook Shukto, then soak it in a bucket of water and leave if overnight! The next day you would find the sticks more juicy and soft.
Tip 2: To savor the essence of Jeera (Cumin Seeds), dry grind one tbsp of cumin seeds and sprinkle over the Shukto and let it settle while you go and make the table!
Tip 3: Do not buy the thick drumsticks, they have big seeds and do not taste good and is not chewable! The fresher, the tastier.
Eat it with plain white steamed rice! Serve Hotttt 🙂
Tip to young Mom’s! This is how my mum has taught me to start eating vegetable, especially bitter-gourd and raw banana as even I was a cranky one when a kid unlike others! 😉 Try it out…
To know more about Our Cultures you may visit “Culture of Bengal!”