- 225 g pepe (raw papaya)
- 5 g salt
- 200 g water
- 50 g mosur dal (soaked for 2 hours)
- 15 g vegetable oil
- 2 pcs bay leaves
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- 4 pcs korola pata (leaves of the bitter gourd plant), or else thankuni pata
- 10 g ginger paste
- 8 g sugar
- 45 g milk
- ¼ tsp maida (plain flour)
- ½ tsp ghee
The grand Bengali panchmishali shukto with lots of vegetables, cooked individually to the perfect doneness, and assembled carefully in the end, isn't for everyday. This quick and easy shukto on the other hand is perfect for weekdays and requires very few ingredients. For the bitter element we have used bitter gourd leaves in this video. Bitter gourd leaves can be hard to find if you don't have a garden—you can easily substitute it with thankuni pata (centella, Asiatic pennywort or Gotu kola) which is easier to buy from the market.
By definition, a shukto is a mild, sometimes bitter, milky curry that is eaten after shaak (greens) and before dal (lentils). As such, it is not the name of a single dish, as is commonly believed, but an entire category of curries (like dalna or ghonto) in its own right. Lau'er shukto (made with bottle gourd), shosha'r shukto (cucumber), and dhula shaak'er shukto are some of the other kinds of shukto known today, albeit among few families. Within the structure of the Bengali meal, shukto is eaten right at the beginning. It is said to stimulate the appetite and prepare the palate for the oncoming spicier courses.
- Soak mosur in water for 2 hours.
- Grind the dal with salt into a coarse paste. If it is too smooth the dal'er bora (fritters) won't be airy and crunchy.
- Whip the ground dal to incorporate air. This will make the bora airy and allow them to soak up the sauce later on.
- Peel the raw papaya and cut them into small squares 5mm thick (watch the video for details).
- In a saucepan boil the papaya with salt and water for 8 minutes. We'll use this water later, so take the exact quantity.
- Strain to stop it cooking further. The pepe should not turn too soft. Save the water.
- Drop tiny dollops of the ground dal into hot vegetable oil (170ºC). Fry on medium heat until light brown. Reserve the bora.
- Take out all but 2 tablespoons of the frying oil. This will be used for the rest of the cooking.
- Temper the oil with bay leaves, and mustard seeds.
- Fry the korola pata (bitter gourd leaves) or the thankuni pata briefly until the leaves turn bright green. Remove them from the oil and set aside. We are taking them out now because we don't want the dish to become too bitter.
- Add the ginger paste and fry for a minute. Make sure it does not burn.
- Add the boiled papaya and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the reserved water left behind from boiling the papaya.
- Add sugar.
- Add 12 pieces of dal'er bora (fritters) and the fried korola pata. Stir and let it bubble for 2 minutes. Submerge the fritters to let them soak up the liquid.
- In a bowl mix plain flour thoroughly in milk, and pour the mixture into the korai/wok. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Finish with half a teaspoon of ghee and cover with a lid.
- Serve in the beginning of a meal (usually lunch) with a little bit of plain boiled rice.
- Knife or bnoti
- Chopping board
- Korai or wok
- Khunti or spatula