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.