Introduction: Bong Food : Shukto (Bengali Vegetable Stew)

Bengali food essentially has 4 - 8 different courses, it all varies from family to family,one of them being Shukto, It is usually served in the beginning of the meal with rice.

Shukto is a mixed vegetable stew which plays around with sweet, savoury and bitter taste. People who do not like spicy food can try this, its has no chillies what so ever and its super healthy for weight watchers!

Step 1: Ingredients:

Veggies :

1) Aubergine (Baingan)- 1 cup cut in finger size pieces

2) Raw Banana - 3/4 cup cut in finger size pieces

3) Bitter Gourd (Karela) - 1/3 cup cut in finger size pieces

4) Potato - 3/4 cup cut in finger size pieces

5) Raw Papaya - 1/2 Cup cut in finger size pieces

6) Drumsticks - 1/2 cup cut in finger size pieces

7) Pointed Gourd (Parwal) - 1/2 cup cut in finger size pieces

8) Ridge Gourd (Jhinge) - 1/2 cup cut in finger size pieces

Other Stuff:

1) Red and yellow sun-dried Lentil Drops (Urad & Masoor Badi ) - 1/2 cup each

2) Bay leaf - 2

3) Poppy Seeds - 1/4 Cup

4) Paanch Phoron (Its a mix of Mustard seeds,Nigella Seeds, Carom seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds) - 2 Tsp

4) Cumin Seeds (Powdered) - 1Tbsp

5) Turmeric - 1 pinch

6) Salt - to taste

7) Sugar - 2 to 3 Tbsp

8) Ginger Paste - 1 tsp

9) Fresh Coconut Paste - 1/4 cup

10) Milk - 1 cup

11) Mustard Oil - 2 Tbsp

12) Water - 2 cups or more if required.

13) Ghee or clarified butter: 1 tsp

Step 2: Cut Vegetables

All vegetables have to be cut in finger size pieces.

Step 3: Fry Stuff

In a few drops of oil fry the lentil drops (Bori) till they turn golden in colour and then fry the bitter gourd (Karela) in a tbsp oil till its crispy and slightly brown. Keep the flame on a medium low to avoid burning things. Take it out and keep it aside.

Step 4: Heat the Oil

Put the rest of the mustard oil in the same pan and let it heat till the colour changes from darker yellow to a lighter one

Step 5: Add the Spices

Add the seed mix and bay leafs , let it crackle!

Step 6: Add Aubergine & Potato

Put Aubergine & Potato in the oil first , it takes the maximum time to cook , let it cook for 5 - 8 mins.

Step 7: Add Rest of the Veggies

Add rest of the veggies , and cumin powder, turmeric, salt ,sugar and ginger paste to the the pot and cook for 8 -10 mins.

Step 8: Add the Liquids

Add the milk and water and let it simmer for 2 mins

Step 9: Add the Fried Stuff

Add the lentil drops and the fired bitter gourd to the mixture and stir gently.

Step 10: Add the Pastes

Finally add the coconut paste and poppy seed paste to it, and let it cook till the veggies are done, You can cover the pot if you like , and water ,salt and sugar can be added if required.

Step 11: Serve

Add the ghee and serve it hot with steaming rice!!!

If you have any Bengali friends, they die for this stuff!!

Serves 4 -5 people

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