Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sukto...a must have bitterness..

'Sukto' is a specialty of Bengali cuisine. It is a mildly bitter curry with loads of vegetables in it. Presence of bitter gourd brings the bitterness to the dish.

A full course Bengali platter  usually starts with something bitter, and Sukto is the most common of them. For us Bengalis, the lunch on any special occasion is incomplete without 'Sukto', be it a marriage ceremony or a rice ceremony or a birthday party.

Sukto has loads of vegetables in it. You can add vegetables of your choice. But there are some vegetables that must go in Sukto, like eggplant, raw banana, radish, drum sticks. And, of course one can not make Sukto without bitter gourd which imparts the bitter taste to the dish. Then there is another ingredient Sine qua non for Sukto is Bori or lentil nuggets. You can  also add any vegetables like ridged gourd(jhinge), taro roots(kochumukhi), long beans(borboti) etc.

Things needed to make Sukto:


  • Bitter gourd: 1
  • Egg plant: half
  • Radish: half
  • Raw banana/plantain: 1
  • Green papaya: 1/4
  • Drumsticks: 4-5
  • Sweet potato: 1
  • Potato: 1
  • Taro root/kochumukhi: 2-3
  • Flat beans/sheem: 6-7


  • Paach foron/Bengali five spice(roasted and ground): 2 tsp
  • Black mustard(paste): 1 tsp
  • Ginger (paste): 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds(paste): 1 tsp
  • Poppy seed (paste): 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaves: 2-3


  • Bori/lentil nuggets: 10-12
  • Milk: 1/2 cup
  • Ghee/clarified butter: 1-2 tsp
  • Oil (preferably mustard oil)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste

Steps of making Sukto:

1. Peel the vegetables, except egg plant and cut all the vegetables lengthwise. Smear salt to the egg plant pieces and keep aside. Keep the raw banana dipped in water, or they will turn black.

2. Roast panch foron in a tawa, cool down and ground to powder. Keep aside. Panch foron is a mix of five spices, fenugreek(methi), black seed(kalo jire), fennel(mouri), black mustard(kalo sorse), celery seed(randhuni).

3. Heat oil(3-4 tbsp) a large pan or kadai. When the oil is hot, reduce heat and fry the bori/lentil nuggets till evenly brown. Take out with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

4. In the same oil fry all the vegetables one by one, starting with potatoes. Fry over high heat, till the surface take brown color. Fry each vegetables separately. Fry the bitter gourd at the end, and make sure they are fully cooked. Keep the fried bitter gourd and fried egg plant separately.

5. In the same oil add bay leaves, cook for 1 min. Add ginger paste and fennel paste and cook for 2 min over medium heat. Add all the fried vegetables and salt, mix well. Add water and let boil. Do not add too much of water, the gravy would of thicker consistency  As the water boils, reduce heat and cover the pan. Cook till the vegetables are done. As potatoes take lesser time to cook, you can add it later.

6. Add fried bori/lentil nuggets. Add mustard paste and poppy seed paste, mix well. Cook covered for 5 min over medium heat. Add the fried bitter gourd and egg plant, add milk and cook for another 2-3 min. But do not boil it for long with the bitter gourd in it, or else it will turn too bitter. Add sugar to adjust the bitterness. Add ghee/clarified butter. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly.

7. Sprinkle the roasted and ground panch foron powder. Serve hot with steamed rice. It is to be eaten at the beginning of a course and served during lunch or a day meal.

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  1. Followed this recipe to make sukto on my own for the first time..... It came out very tasty.... Thanks Chitrangada Di.

    1. Great to know that you liked it. Thanks for your feedback.