Traditional Bengali cuisine represents a colorful array of flavors and textures, but it’s not always as well-known as its Indian counterpart. Among the unique and delicious dishes found in Bengali cuisine is Shukto, a low spiced bitter vegetable dish that has become a staple in our household.
As an Israeli chef, I have had the pleasure to explore some of the lesser-known culinary treasures of the world, including Shukto. This dish brings together a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, bananas, and even papayas in one mixed vegetable curry. Often called the “Bengali five spice,” the paanch phoron adds a unique depth of flavor to this mild comforting stew.
But perhaps the most notable star ingredient of Shukto is bitter melon or bitter gourd. This vegetable might not be everyone’s favorite, but I promise you that combined with other vegetables cooked just right, it adds a burst of wholesome goodness and flavor like no other.
In this recipe article, I will guide you step-by-step on how to make Shukto the traditional Bengali way; low spiced, flavorful and healthy for your body while being rich in both nutrients and taste. So let’s dive into the details of this traditional Bengali recipe that is easy to make at home and enjoy with your loved ones.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
If you’re looking for a unique and healthy addition to your meal rotation, you won’t find anything better than Shukto. This traditional Bengali vegetable dish is packed with a variety of vegetables that are perfectly balanced to create a delicious and nutritious meal.
One of the main reasons why you’ll love this dish is its low spiced bitter taste. This distinctive flavor comes from the use of bitter melons, which add a little bit of bitterness to the dish without being too overpowering. It’s like nothing else you’ve ever tasted before!
And if you’re worried about it being too spicy – don’t be! Shukto is mildly spiced but still incredibly flavorful, thanks to the combination of paanch phoron or five spice blend, cumin powder, and ginger paste.
Another reason to love shukto is that it’s versatile enough to suit any mood or preference. You can make it with a mix of vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, bananas, or papayas, depending on what’s in season or available in your pantry. The outcome will be nothing short of scrumptious!
Make no mistake- Shukto is not just any old vegetable curry – it’s a Bengali style vegetable stew that provides comforting warmth and satisfying nourishment; it’s a dish healthy enough for anyone watching their weight since it’s low in fat but high in fiber.
Finally, Shukto is perfect for those looking for something easy to prepare at home without having to go through elaborate techniques. Just follow our simple recipe instructions, and within no time, you’ll be enjoying your very own traditional Bengali recipe at home.
So why wouldn’t you love this mild comforting stew? Add this delicious recipe to your meal planning today and enjoy all the health benefits and flavors that come with it!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Shukto, a traditional Bengali vegetable dish that is low spiced and healthy. This dish incorporates a variety of vegetables, offering both taste and nutrition.
- Potato (peeled, 100 g)
- Eggplants (1 small)
- Pumpkin (100 g)
- Bananas (1 small)
- Papayas (50 g)
- Bitter melons (50 g)
- Paanch phoron (bengali five spice blend, 1 tsp)
- Mustard seeds (1 tsp)
- Cumin powder (1 tsp)
- Water (4 cups)
- Salt (to taste, around 2 tsp)
- Sugar (to balance the bitterness, around 1 tsp)
- Ginger paste (1/2 tsp)
These ingredients can be found at your local market or specialty store. If you cannot find bitter melons, you can substitute them with other bitter greens such as bitter squash. When choosing vegetables, remember that the fresher they are, the better they will taste in this dish.
The Recipe How-To
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
To make Shukto, you will need the following ingredients:
– 2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
– 1 eggplant, chopped into bite-sized pieces
– 1 cup sliced pumpkin
– 1 large bitter melon, deseeded and cut into thin slices
– 1 ripe banana, sliced diagonally
– ½ cup diced papaya
– 2 tablespoons of ginger paste
– 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
– Salt, to taste
– Sugar, to taste
– Water, as needed
Step 2: Cook the Vegetables
In a pot, heat oil and add ‘paanch phoron‘ (a mix of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and black cumin seeds) over low flame. Let it crackle.
Add the chopped vegetables including potato, eggplants and pumpkin along with the bitter melon slices. Mix all together.
Add salt to taste and sauté on medium flame for few minutes. Cover the pot and let it cook till tender.
Once done add papaya & banana slices. Mix well and keep aside.
Step 3: Prepare Masala Paste
In a small bowl take ginger paste, cumin powder & sugar. Mix all well to create a smooth mixture.
Step4: Add Masala Paste to Vegetables
Remove lid from the pot and put in masala paste mixture. Give everything a good stir.
Now add enough water to mix everything nicely until it boils without running dry.
Cover up again for another few minutes on low flame.
When everything comes together successfully in a nice mixed vegetable curry your Shukto is now ready to be served.
To give it that extra zing flavor sprinkle some lightly roasted ‘paanch phoron’ over the top.
Enjoy this traditional Bengali vegetable stew and savor every bite!
Substitutions and Variations
Looking to switch it up a bit with your Shukto? Here are some substitutions and variations that will still give you the traditional Bengali flavors you love, but with a unique twist.
Firstly, there’s no rule that says you need to use all the vegetables listed in this recipe. If you’re missing one or two or want to add in something else as well, go ahead and mix it up. Just remember to cut them into similar size pieces for even cooking.
For the bitter melon, if you’re unable to find this vegetable in your local store, you can replace it with other bitter vegetables like radicchio or endives.
If the traditional Paanch Phoron spice blend is hard to come by, try using equal parts mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds. This will create a very similar flavor profile without needing to purchase specialized spices.
For those who prefer their dishes spicier, consider adding some chili powder or fresh green chilies to your Shukto. Just be aware that this could alter the traditional taste of this low-spiced dish.
And finally, for a heartier version of Shukto, consider adding in some protein like chicken, shrimp or paneer. These additions will make for an even more filling and satisfying meal.
Experimenting with different variations of Shukto can be an exciting way to introduce diversity into your diet while still enjoying traditional Bengali cuisine. So feel free to get creative and have fun cooking!
Serving and Pairing
Shukto is a traditional Bengali vegetable dish that has a unique flavor and texture. The dish is low spiced, making it light yet flavorful, and the vegetables cooked in this dish are both bitter and sweet. So, what would be the perfect pairing for this comforting stew?
Traditionally, serving shukto with steamed white rice is a classic way to enjoy this meal. The combination of mild comforting stew with the fluffy texture of the rice creates a perfect balance. You can also try pairing it with roti, naan or paratha.
If you like to add some protein to your meal or make it more filling, you can serve shukto with some grilled chicken or fish on the side. It’s recommended to choose a light preparation so as not to overpower the flavors of the shukto.
A side of papadum or fried lentil wafer can add an enjoyable crunchiness to your otherwise soft and comforting meal.
For those who love a good salad, serving shukto with cucumber raita or carrot salad adds refreshing and cooling relief to the mildly spiced dish.
Lastly, a glass of buttermilk (chaas), lassi or nimbu pani (lemonade) would help to soothe your palate after enjoying this delicious Bengali cuisine.
Remember that shukto is packed with different flavors and nuances which means that it pairs well with various sides and drinks, providing a wide range of options for you to make your own perfect Shukto meal.
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
One of the best things about Shukto is its versatility in terms of storage and reheating options. Whether you’re meal prepping for the week, or simply looking to save some leftovers for later, this dish is perfect for both scenarios.
If you want to make Shukto ahead of time, it’s best to store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months, but it’s important to note that the texture may change slightly upon reheating.
When reheating, simply add a splash of water to the pot and gently heat on a low flame until warmed through. If you find that your Shukto has become too thick, feel free to add a little extra water or vegetable stock to loosen it up.
It’s important to remember that Shukto is a delicate dish, so avoid reheating it in the microwave as this can cause it to become dry and lose its texture. Instead, opt for gently heating on the stovetop or in the oven if possible.
Overall, Shukto is a fantastic recipe for make-ahead meals and storing leftovers. With just a little bit of care and attention when reheating, you can enjoy this traditional Bengali vegetable stew any time you like!
Tips for Perfect Results
To ensure that your Shukto turns out perfectly, here are some helpful tips for you.
Firstly, make sure to use fresh vegetables. Fresh ingredients always bring out the best flavors in a dish.
Secondly, when cooking the vegetables, be careful not to overcook them. Overcooking can lead to a mushy texture and loss of nutrients.
Thirdly, pay attention to the balance of flavors. Shukto is a low-spiced dish but still needs a balance of sweet and bitter tastes. Adjust the sweetness and bitterness using sugar and salt respectively, as per your liking.
Fourthly, use paanch phoron instead of any other masala for the typical bengali flavor. Paanch phoron is a blend of five whole spices – cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and nigella seeds.
Fifthly, use clarified butter (or ghee) to temper the paanch phoron before adding it to your Shukto. Tempering helps to release the oils from the whole spices which enhance their flavors.
Sixthly, mix well all the ingredients until they are properly coated with spices or seasoning so that every bite will be flavorful.
Last but not least, serve Shukto hot with steaming rice, it tastes even better this way!
Before we conclude this shukto recipe article, let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions about this traditional Bengali vegetable dish. With a mix of various vegetables and spices, Shukto is a dish that might raise some questions. Let’s dive deeper into this low-spiced bitter Bengali dish to understand what it’s all about.
Is Shukto good for health?
In this recipe, a blend of assorted vegetables is used to create a Bengali dish that is not only healthy but also flavorful. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, this low-calorie dish is a fantastic source of nutrition for anyone looking to maintain a healthy diet. The recipe is further enhanced by the addition of poppy seeds, which not only contribute to its delicious taste but also provide a generous dose of minerals like calcium and zinc.
What is the taste of Shukto?
Shukto is a stew made of various vegetables accentuated with a pungent and bitter taste derived from mustard oil, and complemented with the flavors of paanch phoron, ginger paste, and chilies.
Is Shukto a dish in Bangla cuisine?
One of the most beloved types of Bengali shukto is a gentle and soothing stew that features a diverse array of vegetables, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, korola (bitter gourd), kachkola (green bananas), pepe (raw papaya), brinjal, shojne (drumsticks), and sheem (flat beans).
Shukto may be a dish that is not well-known outside of Bengali cuisine, but it is a true gem worth discovering. With its combination of bitter and sweet flavors, low spiciness, and healthy ingredients, shukto is a traditional Bengali vegetable dish that is both satisfying and comforting. And with this easy-to-follow recipe guide, you can make shukto at home and experience its unique taste and benefits.
Whether you are a fan of vegetable curries or stews, or you simply enjoy trying new foods from different cultures, shukto is a dish you should definitely add to your list. By using a variety of vegetables cooked in a Bengali five-spice blend called paanch phoron, and adding a masala paste made from ginger, cumin powder, and mustard seeds, you can create a flavorful and nutritious dish that will satisfy your cravings.
So next time you’re searching for something different to cook for dinner, consider making shukto. This traditional Bengali recipe will take your taste buds on an adventure while also being healthy and low in fat. And who knows? Maybe this dish will become one of your new favorites thanks to its mild comforting flavor and variety of veggies. Give shukto a chance – you won’t regret it!
Shukto - Low Spiced Bitter Bengali Vegetable Dish - Healthy Recipe
- 50 g bitter melons (melon)
- 100 g raw papayas, peeled
- 2 pieces raw bananas, peeled
- 100 g pumpkin, peeled
- 100 g eggplants (aubergine)
- 1 piece medium sized potato, peeled
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon panch phoron (equal part of Black mustard, fennel, fenugreek, nigella seeds & cumin)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon poppy seed paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon rice bran or 1 tablespoon refined oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 500 ml water
- Dice all vegetables in inch long pieces. wash & keep aside in water as raw banana turns black when in direct contact with air.
- Heat Oil in wok/pan. Add panch phoron. As soon as it splutters, add ginger paste. After a minute, add cumin powder. Add all vegetables, stir for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste & poppy seed paste. Stir and pour water. Bring to boil, sim and cover the pan slightly.
- Keep stirring & checking in between for vegetables to be cooked completely. As soon as the vegetables are done(test by taking a piece each and mash/slice with spoon wihtout any difficulty), add sugar. The gravy should not be very thick. Remove from gas oven and serve with rice(brown).