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Friday, April 21, 2017

Shukto ~ Mom's recipe(ghati style, if I can say so)

      Shukto is a speciality and a jem dish of Bengali Cuisine. It is a mildly bitter, mix-vegetable dish with lots of vegetables in it. Bitterness comes from the bitter gourd which is the main vegetable of the dish.
       A full course Bengali meal usually starts with something bitter and Shukto is the most common of them. Bengalis love Shukto and for us Bengalis, any special occasion is incomplete without it, be it a festival meal, daily meal or even a birthday party. It's a ritual to start every bengali meal with this bitter dish because its bitterness cleans your palate before you start to gorge on heavier dishes like, dal(lentil), fish or meat curry etc.

       Bengali cuisine which belongs to the people of West Bengal, has always two versions of most of the Bengali dishes. One, which belongs to the people who were lived in the Bengal before partition, we refer them as "Ghati" and other, which belongs to the people who migrated from Bangladesh to Bengal after partition, we refer them as "Bangal". Both versions are quite distinctive in making, taste and flavour. Though there are many dishes which are quite similar, but there are few dishes which one can level as "ghati" or "bangal" seeing the look of the dish. Shukto is one such dish which varies a lot in making, taste and flavour in both the versions. While my father's family has migrated from bangladesh, i.e."bangal", my mother's family is "ghati". So, I am a mixture of  ghati and bangal and in our home, both types of cooking were present. My mother, who learnt the "bangal" style of cooking after marriege, always made both the style of cooking with ease. She also cooked bothe the versions of  "Shukto" every now and them. For me, both the ways it tasted great. I always loved the unique blend of spices with vegetable in Shukto, thereby I loved it dearly. I have already posted One Shukto recipe, which we can call "Bangal Shukto", but I have not posted "the ghati shukto" yet.
        When I have made Shukto few days back in "ghati style" which I learnt from my mother, I decided to click pictures and post it on my blog.  Let us move on to the recipe now...............

You Need :
Vegetables-------(must in the shukto)
Bitter Gourd : 3-4, cut into lengthwise
Sweet potato/normal potato : 1-2, cut into lengthwise
Brinjal : 1, cut into 2-3" long and thick slices
Raw banana : 2, cut into lengthwise
Radish : 1-2, cut into lengthwise
Parwal/patol/pointed gourd : 3-4, cut into lengthwise

Long beans(barbati)/broad beans(sim) : cut into 2" long slices
Raw papaya(Kancha pepe) : cut into thin and long slices

Pumpkin, cut into cubes
Drumstick, cut into 2" long slices

        Vegetables for Shukto

Spices : 
Bay leaf : 1
Dry red Chilli : 1, optional
Panch phoron(five spice mix) : 1 tsp.(for tempering) + 1 tsp.(for roasting)
[mix mustard seed, cumin, fennel, black cumin and fenugreek seed in equal quantity]
Ghee : 1 tsp.
Mustard seed : 1 tsp.(grind into paste) + 1/2 tsp. (for roasting)
Cumin seed : 1 tsp.
Ginger paste : 2 tsp.

Others :
Bori/dried lentil vadis : 7-8 nos.[must in Shukto]

Oil : 2 tblsp.

Ghee : 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Milk : 1/3 cup
Flour(maida) : 1 tsp.

How To :
  • Cutting Vegetables : cut all the vegetables lengthwise. Try to cut all of them in equal lengthand thickness. What is ideal is to cut in thicker slices which vegetables are cooked easily and in thinner slices which take more time to cook. So that all of them are cooked at the same time
  • Preperation :: (1) Make a fine paste of cumin seed and ginger together, better in sil-nora(grinding stone, made of stone/mortar and pastle), which lends an extra-ordinary taste to the spices. I always use when I am something so traditional, like sukto or fish curry etc. (2) Make a paste of mustard seed in the grinding stone too. (3) Roast 1/2 tsp. mustard seed and 1 tsp. panch phoron on a hot tawa, saute till some roasted aroma comes out, remove and grind into fine powder. 

  • Cooking : Heat 1 tblsp. oil in a wide bottomed kadai/pan, fry the vadis/boris till they are brown from all sides. Do not burn them, keep aside. In the same oil, fry the bitter gourd slices with a pinch of salt. Remove when they are slightly browned. Keep aside.
  • In the same oil, add rest of the vegetables and saute for 3-4 minutes, adding a bit of salt. When they leave their rawness, remove from heat and keep aside.
  • Add 1 more tblsp. of oil, temper with bay leaf, dry red chilli and 1 tsp. panch phoron, when seeds start to crackle and brown a bit, add all the sauted vegetables in the oil. Saute for a minute, then add a pinch of turmeric powder and ginger-cumin seed paste. Mix nicely with all the vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes. When the aroma of ginger goes away, add 1 cup of water or enough water to cook the vegetables. We'll add the bitter gourd slices little later.
  • Now add bitter gourd slices and fried boris/vadis on the top and do not mix , otherwise it'll make the curry too bitter. Mix a little water with the mustard paste and add it into the curry. Some people prefer, Shukto with thinner gravy, some prefer with thicker gravy. Keep the moisture of the curry according to your preference. I personally like shukto to be with thicker gravy. 
  • When vegetables are half done, add milk mixed with 1 tsp. of flour/maida and add it into the curry. Add sugar. When vegetables are cooked, add ghee and check the seasoning. Keep the consistency of the gravy as much you like. Cook for 1 more minute and remove from heat.
  • Lastly sprinkle 1-2 tsp. of mustard and panch phoron seed powder over the curry, mix well and serve hot with steamed rice. 

Always serve Shukto in the beginning of a meal to procure the benefit of this awesome bitter dish.   

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