Shukto

The most popular kind of Bengali shukto is the mild, comforting stew packed with a variety of vegetables, most notably potatoes, sweet potatoes, bitter gourd (korola), green bananas (kachkola), raw papaya (pepe), brinjal, drumsticks (shojne), and flat beans (sheem). Even though this form of shukto has, in recent times, come to be associated with ‘traditional’ biyebaris and other feasts, and is also quite sought after at restaurants, this is only one of the many different kinds of shukto recipes that are part of the Bengali cuisine. As such, ‘shukto’ 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, sometimes just after shaak (greens) and before dal (lentils). It is said to stimulate the appetite and prepare the palate for the oncoming spicier courses.