Shukto: An Appetising Bengali-Style Vegetable Stew
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Craving something delicious, but worried about health? Fret not. The Bengali-style vegetable stew, popularly known as Shukto, is here for your rescue. It is a dreamy veggie curry, which is power-packed with nutrition and fragrant spices. The Bengali-style Shukto is a wonderful combination of veggies, coconut, milk, and aromatic spices.

Some veggies are parboiled, while others are fried. Shukto usually tastes bitter and mild due to the indulgence of bitter gourd, and drumsticks. Vegetables like raw banana, sweet potatoes, brinjal, and papaya add bulk to the dish along with creaminess. The vegetables are tossed in ground spices. For a rich and creamy texture, milk-based flour, grated coconut and ghee is added. The stew is usually enjoyed with hot steamed rice. 

The Shukto originated in Bengal during the Mediaeval Period, and is mentioned in Mangal Kavya as well as in the biographies of Sri Chaitanya. It is generally consumed as a cooling food item amid the hot and humid weather. The cool delicacy is generally served before the meals so as to increase the appetite and conclude the nosh-up with a sweet in order to balance the palate. Though bitter and pungent, it serves freshness, comfort and nutrition in abundance. It is consumed popularly as lunch.  It is a bengali legacy to serve Shukto to each and every guest as a welcoming meal. 

Here’s the recipe for Bengali-Style Shukto.


160 gm shojne data (drumsticks), stripped off the fibres

100 gm halved-sheem (flat beans), trimmed ends and removed fibrous strands

120 gm sweet potato, chopped into wedges

100 gm chopped brinjal

100 gm potato, cut into wedges

50 gm sliced korola (bitter gourd)

150 gm deseeded chopped kacha pepe (unripe papaya)

150 gm chopped kachkola (unripe bananas)

35 gm ginger paste

25 gm shorshe bata (finely grounded mustard and water paste)

15 gm grated coconut

10 pieces sun-dried lentil dumplings 

4 bay leaves 

½ tsp panch phoron (5 aromatic spices - fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seeds, and fennel seeds are blended together)

¼ tsp all-purpose-flour

100 gm milk

20 gm salt

22 gm sugar

½ tsp finely crushed radhuni

10 gm ghee


. In a small bowl, mix the all-purpose flour with milk to form a paste. Set aside. 

. In a large skillet, add the vegetables, salt and water. 

. Now, cover and parboil the vegetables like drumsticks, papaya, sweet potatoes, potato, and flat beans on low heat for 15 minutes. Keep stirring midway to cook evenly.

. Strain the excess water. Keep aside the vegetables and vegetable stock.

. In another pot, heat the oil and add sun dried lentil dumplings (dal’er bori) and fry until golden-brown. Drain the oil and set aside. 

. Now, fry the vegetables such as brinjal, raw bananas, and bitter gourd, one at a time, on medium heat. 

. First, add the bitter gourd and fry until golden. Now, add in the raw banana along with a pinch of salt and fry for 4 minutes. 

. At last, add brinjal and fry for 4 minutes or until golden. Set aside the fried ingredients.

. In the remaining oil, add bay leaves, panch phoron, and ginger paste. 

. Mix and fry on low heat for 1 minute. Now, add in the shorshe bata and sauté well.

. Add the potatoes first. Cover and cook for 3 minutes on low heat.

. Now, add the other boiled and fried vegetables in the pot. Add a pinch of salt, sugar and mix well.

. Add the grated coconut and keep mixing.

. Now, pour in the vegetable stock followed by bitter gourd and brinjal. Mix gently.

. Add the milk and all-purpose-flour mixture to the stew. 

. Allow the stew to simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until all the veggies are fully cooked.

. Add the radhuni powder at last. Stir well. 

. Add ghee on top. Turn off the flame. 

. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve hot with rice.