Our foodie, Sarika, shares a unique Bengali vegetarian dish, cooked without garlic and onion, Sukto, which is essentially a signature dish of every household. Read more about it, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
I am writing from Phuket. Yes, I am enjoying my summer vacation. Since childhood, summer vacation is very special for me. During summer vacation we break rules (at least I do), as a result, I put on three pounds, because I sleep less, eat more and travel a lot. I believe it is one life and we should enjoy it to the full. The first half of my vacation was with my parents. This is only time I can spend with them. Now, coming to food, I am a vegetarian by choice. But I eat onion and garlic. Bengalis consider onion and garlic as non-vegetarian. So, authentic Bengali vegetarian dishes are onion and garlic free.
Among all Bengali vegetarian dishes, I feel Sukto, a medley of fresh vegetables, is the most difficult, reason being that every household has its own recipe. Some add milk, some likes it dry or runny. It is unique with creamy gravy, a pinch of sweet and a bitter punch. Initially, my Sukto used to be horrible, over the years I upgraded the standards. Now, even my hard hardcore vegetarian husband appreciates my Sukto and eats few extra spoons of rice with it.
Sukto (medley of fresh vegetables)
- 1 raw banana
- 1 cup chopped raw papaya
- ½ chopped white radish
- 9-10 drumsticks pieces (2 inch)
- Potato 1piece
- Sweet potato I piece
- Eggplant I piece
- Pointed gourd 1 piece
- Ridge gourd 1/2
- Long beans 50 gems
- bitter gourd- 1 piece
For the paste
2-3 heaped tbs of poppy seeds
1 tbs of brown mustard seeds or yellow mustard seeds
Soak poppy seeds and mustard seeds in enough water. Grind them well.
Now, for the tempering part/phoron for shukto
- 1 tsp of panch phoron (mixture of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds all in equal portions)
- 2 bay leaf
- 3-4 mustard oil
- 1 tsp of ginger grated
We also need ghee, sugar and 1/2 cup of milk diluted with water for the gravy.
- Chop all the vegetables in equal lengthwise.
- Marinate bitter gourd in salt. Leave it for half an hour.
- Heat up a kadai/pan
- Add mustard oil and fry the bitter gourd pieces for few minutes
- Add in panch phoron and bay leaves.
- Add ginger paste
- Now, add in all the vegetables, one by one.
- Keep on frying for 8 to 10 minutes till they turn soft.
- Add water, cover and cook the vegetables.
- Cook few more minutes.
- At this stage, add poppy seeds and mustard paste to it and also add diluted milk with water, the consistency depends on you
- Add in 1tsp of ghee and sugar about 2tsp, let it cook further more for few minutes at low flame.
- Serve with steamed rice.
Enjoy wholesome and healthy Sukto!
©Sarika Sarkar Das
Photos by the author.
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