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Test your skill with Shukto - A summer delight

This simple Bengali detox-dish is no less tricky to prepare than any delicacy.

Anuradha Bhunia
Sun, Jun 1 2014

Photography: Anuradha

About Anuradha

Growing up in Kalyani (WB), I learned cooking watching my mother. (She was really a good cook!). I started my own gastronomic journey on being married in a new country and experienced the challenges of adapting my recipes to the local availability of ingredients and also adopted recipes from all over the world.

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Shukto - a thick soupy mixture of vegetables in a ginger-mustard sauce is usually eaten at the onset of a sumptuous Bengali meal, but not necessarily as a starter.

It features a fine balance of many different tastes and textures and is often a critical measure of a Bengali cook's culinary skills.

Carry on reading to pass your “Shukto Test” with flying colours.

This recipe was adapted by my mother from my ‘thakuma’ (grandma) years ago. I have loved shukto since my childhood. I have always noticed that shukto tastes different in every family.

Over the past few days, I am reading many shukto recipes but the one used by my mother is slightly different. I lost my mother two years back. I am transcribing and posting the recipe in her memory.

After frying different vegetables - radish, eggplant, plantain, ridge gourd, zucchini, pumpkin, potato, drumsticks, sheem, and of course korola (bitter gourd) - add ‘shorshe-posto bata’ (mustard-poppyseed paste), salt and sugar.

Pumpkin is my addition and it is not in the family recipe.

When it is almost done, gradually add ‘karola bhaja’ (fried bitter gourd) and ‘bhaja bori’.

Finally fry some ginger-paste and dry-roasted ‘panchphoron powder’ with ghee in a small pan. Fry till you sense the aroma and then mix it with the shukto.

Serve with ‘garam (warm) bhat’. Mine is entirely made with olive oil.

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