June 29, 2006


Last week, I opened my mail and there was my first recipe request. Preeti, my friend in Germany, wanted me to post shukto recipe. Shukto is a traditional Bengali dish, usually eaten as a first course. I think it is the perfect dish encapsulating all tastes described in ayurveda. What gives it its unique taste is the medley of vegetables cooked together. It always has bittergourd, eggplant, plantain and then you can add the seasonal vegetables.

My own relationship with this dish has changed over the years. I remember not liking it when I was a child, but my taste changed as I grew up.

Making shukto involved a call to my mom in India. She gave me my maternal grandmom's recipe. Here goes:

2 Bittergourd - fresh or frozen
2 Medium Size Potatoes - chopped
1 Medium Eggplant - cut in small cubes
1 Plantain - cut in small cubes
1 Zucchini - cut in small cubes
1 Carrot - cut in small cubes
1 Tomato - cut thinly
1/2 cup Peas - frozen or fresh
2 tbspoon Posto (khas khas)
1tspoon Mustard seeds
1 big cube Ginger
2 green Chillis - slit
3 tbspoon Milk
1/4 tspoon Turmeric
1/4 tspoon Sugar
Salt to taste

Saute the bittergourd, eggplant and potatoes separately.
Soak the posto and 1/2 tspoon mustard in warm water for an hour. After draining it, make a paste of posto, mustard and ginger.
Heat oil in a pan, temper it with mustard seeds and green chillis.
Add in the vegetables one by one. Mix it all together, close the lid and let it steam.
After about 10 minutes, add half of the paste, turmeric and salt. Add 1/4 cup water if it is too dry.
Cook on medium low flame for another 10-15 minutes.
Add the rest of the paste, sugar and milk and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with rice.


  1. I have heard this name somewhere. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Hope to see many more bengali dishes here.

  2. Shilpa
    Thanks for visiting. I didn't like shukto when I was young, partly because of bittergourd. But now I enjoy it for the same bittergourd. Funny, na.
    Do keep visiting.

  3. Thank you for the recipe, i am always looking for diverse vegetable preparations. Adding khas khas to vegetables was knew to me till last week when i used it with potatoes, and loved it. Will try this one out for sure.

  4. Archana
    You made aloo posto, another favorite of mine. I'm glad you liked this recipe.
    Do keep visiting.

  5. I think a lot of Benaglis go thru this love-hate relationship with shukto because of the bitter-gourd. My mom used to leave it out sometimes to make us happy. Some incentive!!

    I recently made posto too with aloo and zucchini and turai (I don't the American name for this veggie).

    Next time, I am cooking shukto using your recipe. It's good to have your blog to document some of my favorite Benagli dishes. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Durga
    Yes, I made that recently as well. Will post my recipe soon.
    This blog is also helping me rediscover some of the recipes which I love and learn how to cook them!
    I still want to try your lau ghonto:)

  7. poppy6:34 PM

    I am a shukto lover also my husband. Living in U.K. I cook once or twice a week. Everything is okay in your shukto recipe except putting 2 green chillies. In Shukto turmeric is also not used or if used only a pinch and never should be any chillies. In Bengali nursery rhymes, it is said, "chhie chhie Rani randhtey shekheni, mashima key boley jholey mashla debo ki? ... Shuktani tey jhaal diyechhey, amboleytey ghee." this translates.. (Shame to Rani(imaginary little girl) who does not know how to cook curry and puts chillies in Shuko and Ghee in chutney).Putting chillies in Shukto and ghee in chutney are definiteley prohibited and if some one does that it means she/he does not know cooking at all.
    from Poppy

  8. Poppy - Thanks for sharing the verse and your recipe. This is great to know. I use a pinch of turmeric in shukto and also green chillis. I need a little spice in my food and I like the taste of green chillis in shukto.
    Will try cooking without the green chillis and let you know how it turns out. Thanks for visiting.

  9. Anonymous5:15 PM

    Hi Mandira, I went through your reply to my comment and found out that the fundamental rule of shukto recipe is called by you 'your recipe'. Not true please. There are few recipes which have some fundamental rules dear. You can not call rice kheer a kheer by making it bitter or spicy.

  10. Madhumita9:22 AM

    I think even I have the habit of putting chillies in every savoury dish I cook.I just love the way you have elaborated the recipe.I'll definitely try it out and that too with chillies:o))....even if it goes against the bengali nursery rhyme!!

  11. Thanks for posting the receipe.I asked my mom about it too and she suggested the same receipe only that no chillies and recited the same old rhyme which even Poppy has mentioned.Thanks again

  12. Hi Mandira,
    Nice to see this shukto recipe. Would love to know the Bengali name for "Zucchini".

  13. Anonymous1:07 AM

    Hey I just tried this recipe and loved it - I loved the addition of chillies to it - thanks for sharing this


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