The sometimes bitter, sweet, milky, mild medley of vegetable with that nice comforting aroma- Shukto has mostly been the star when it comes to a Bengali vegetarian fare. The word  “shukto” comes from shukuta — the dried leaves of the bitter jute plant — according to Bengali narrative poems of the 15th and 16th centuries. While the shukuta lost it’s essence in this dish the more evolved version sees the use of Bitter gourd. Loaded with all variety from Bitter Guard, Eggplant, Green Banana, Potato, Sweet potato, Drumsticks, White radish, and Hyacinth Beans, the main trick of cooking this dish lies in it’s tampering with that one exclusive spice. It’s the “Randhuni”( wild celery seeds). 

While the core vegetables that are added to this is the bitter gourd, sometimes it’s even replaced with Shiuli leaves (leaves of Night-flowering jasmine) due to it’s bitter taste that the leaves have. Not to miss chili is completely a no-no to Shukto. It’s good to see that this dish has not lost it’s appeal even in modern times.


    10-12 Shiuli leaves (night jasmine leaves)

    1 raw banana

    1 sweet potato

    1/2 of papaya

    2 drum sticks

    1 potato

    1/2 of brinjal

    8-9 flat beans

    10 lentil dumplings

    1 cup milk

    1 ½ tsp sugar

    2 ½ tbsp ghee

    5 ½ tbsp mustard oil

    ½ spoon Radhuni

    Salt(as per taste)

Ingredients for shukto masala

    1 ½ tsp mustard seeds paste

    1 tsp poppy seeds

    ½ inch ginger

    ¾ tssp cumin powder

    1 ½ tsp radhuni or wild celery seeds

    1 ½ tsp paanch phoron or Bengali five spice


    Firstly, make sure all vegetables and the ingredients are right there and keep them aside.

    In the meantime, soak the mustard seeds in lukewarm water

    Take all the veggies and after peeling all of them cut them lengthwise ( approx 7-8 cm long). 

    Now take a pan, place it on medium heat, let it gets hot, add mustard oil to it.

    Chop the Shiuli leaves and fry them well and remove from oil

    Slowly add each vegetable separately and fry it mildly and take them out. Also fry the lentil dumplings.

    In the same pan some more oil and add the bay leaves, paanch phoron, dry red chilli to it for tempering in the oil.

    In the meantime, make the fine mustard paste and keep it aside

    When the paanch phoron leaves its aroma add few spoons of mustard paste and the radhuni and sauté a little.

    Add salt according to taste

    Once the spices have been cooked well add the veggies and give it a good mix.

    Then add water

    Bring it to boil till veggies are boiled and cooked. 

    Then add the milk and let it cook for some time as the gravy nicely get into the veggies.

    Once cooked, sprinkle some more radhuni and grounded pan roasted paanch phoron. 

    Then add the fried shiuli pata for the bitter taste to mingle. Keep some aside to sprinkle on top

    End it with a generous helping of ghee and by adding rest of the fried leaves.

    Paired with steam rice it goes best