Sunday, July 21, 2013

Shukto.....slightly bitter medley of vegetables.

You cannot make "shukto" without the bitter gourd. Shukto is the "teto",the bitter needed to cleanse and prepare the palate for the rest of the delicious courses to follow.I used to hate "shukto" and all these "teto" palate cleansers as a kid.......which kid doesn't!!!I discovered my love for "shukto" and "neem begun" much much later ........when my mother had almost given up hope that I would ever be able to acquire a taste for them.
My mother in law makes wonderful shukto. She happens to be a "teto" lover and meals under her governance will always have some form of bitter ...thanks to the big neem tree in the garden......supply of bitter leaves is always an arm length away.
This is my mother in laws way of cooking "shukto" ....delicious, mildly bitter(for my sake) and very creamy.
The recipe requires "randhuni" but since we don't get "randhuni" here I have to make do with mustard seeds.
My mother-in-law fries all the vegetables like the plantain, eggplant, potatoes separately before putting it in the milk based gravy of the "shukto". I skip the separately frying,I put all the vegetables in the oil together and simmer on low heat till all veggies are soft.For my everyday cooking I prefer this low calorie version.

Vegetables:Usually potatoes,eggplant,ridge gourd,plantain and bitter gourd go into the making of shukto.
A cup of each vegetable sliced similar so that they take equal time to cook.
Randhuni/Mustard seeds-1 teaspoon
Bay leaf-1 big
Green chili-1 slit into 2
Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon
Sugar-1 teaspoon
Poppy seed paste-1 tablespoon
Mustard seed paste-1 tablespoon
Fresh ginger paste-1 tablespoon
Salt-to taste
Milk-1 cup
Ghee-1 tablespoon
Vegetable oil-4 tablespoons
Urad dal bori-8-10 (optional)

If you are going to add boris to your shukto,fry them in really hot oil till reddish brown and keep it aside.If the oil is not hot the boris will soak up all the oil.
Now in the remaining oil,add the randhuni/mustard seeds and the bay leaf.Let is splutter.Now add all the vegetables one by one.The plantains,the eggplant,the potatoes,the bitter gourd the ridge gourd...the order in which they take time to cook.Now add the turmeric,the sugar and some salt and cook the vegetables on low heat with a lid.The lid helps to retain the moisture of the vegetables while cooking...without the lid the veggies will become dry and you will have to add more water or more oil to continue the cooking without the veggies burning.
Once all the vegetables are soft add the mustard paste and the poppy seed paste.I, at times make "shukto" without the poppy seed paste and the mustard seed paste.........to make my life simpler.The "shukto" still tastes good.The mustard paste and the poppy paste add some richness and a tang to the "shukto".....added dimensions to the taste.In a couple of minutes the pastes will be cooked,now add the ginger and after a minute add the milk.Let the milk come to a boil add the fried boris and the ghee. Shukto is best served with plain white rice.


  
  

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