Shukto is a traditional Bengali dish, served towards the beginning of a meal, esp. lunch. It is supposed to be a palate cleanser, made with mixed vegetables including at least one bitter vegetable, simmered with a hint of sugar and milk. The recipe is a breakaway from the traditional Shukto, made with just one vegetable and of course the ‘panch phorons’ (5 temperings).
- Bottle Gourd/Lauki – 1 kg (peeled and cut into about ½ inch cubes)
- Mustard Oil – 1 tbsp
- Green Chillies – 3-4
- Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
- Milk – 1 cup
- Sugar – ½ tsp
- Ginger Paste – 1 tsp
- Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp (dry roasted and coarsely powdered)
- Radhuni – ½ tsp (crushed)
- Fenugreek/Methi Seeds – ½ tsp
- Bay Leaf – 1
- Ghee – 2 tbsps
- Plain Urad Dal Bori/Vadi – 3-4 (Dry roasted and roughly crushed)
- Salt to taste
Heat mustard oil in a kadai (wok). Temper with bay leaf and methi seeds. Once they start sputtering, add green chillies and the diced lauki (bottle gourd). Add turmeric powder. Lower the flame and cook covered for about 20 minutes or till the lauki has released all its moisture and is almost cooked in its own juices. Add milk, mix well and bring to a boil. Add ginger paste, turmeric powder and the half-broken vadis/boris.
In a separate tempering pan heat the ghee. Remove from heat and temper with the crushed radhuni and mustard seeds. Add to the cooked dish. Add sugar and salt to taste. Mix well. Cook for 2 minutes more. Serve with steamed rice.