Tuesday 15 April 2008

RCI Bengal

I like almost all Movies by the great Hrishikesh Mukherji. I say almost because films like 'Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate' are not just in his league. Such movies make me wonder what he was thinking while he was making them. But all the rest of them are pure Gems (the precious kind, not the Cadbury's ones!). Some of them I have seen so many times that I could recite the dialogues even in my sleep. Whenever there was one being shown on the TV it used to be 'Oh, its been so many days since I last saw this movie!' & then I would sit in front of the TV for the whole time watching it as if it was the first time. These movies had a repeat value to them & you never get bored even if you know whats going to happen when. Anadi, Chupke Chupke, Anand, Guddi, Mili, Namak Haram, Abhimaan, Golmaal, Khubsoorat are just a few of his now rare gems.

Now what has a food blog post got to do with Hrishikesh Mukherji? Well, this one certainly does because one of his movies inspired me to try out this Bengali dish for the RCI-Bengal event hosted by Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook.
The film in question is Bawarchi, where Rajesh Khanna plays the multi talented cook who, apart from dishing out tasty food, also helps in bringing the family together, makes them realise that happiness lies in the simple things that we come across in life. In one of the scenes he tells the Grandfather of the family that he is going to cook a special Bengali dish and the way he announces the name " SHUKTO" in that unique tone is still fresh in my memory although its been a long time since I last saw this one.

Now, when RCI-Bengal was announced, funnily the only things that came to mind was fish & Bengali sweets. Now being a vegetarian, fish was out of question & so I started looking for Bengali sweets to make for this event. While searching on the Internet I came across a number of Bengali recipes that I had never known about. There really are a lot of vegetarian recipes to be explored in the Bengali cuisine. Thanks Sandeepa, for giving me & I am sure many others like me to get acquainted with Bengali cuisine which as I discovered is not about only fish & Sweets. Then when I came across the recipe for 'Shukto' and instantly remembered Rajesh Khanna, the Bawarchi and I knew this was the dish I would be making for RCI-Bengal.

I found various versions of the recipe and have adapted whatever I liked from each of them :) But one common thing in all of them was the use of Vadi(lentils), which unfortunately I could not find anywhere and did not have time to make some at home either. I did have Punjabi Vadi with me but I did not want to use them as they would have altered the taste and I really wanted to try the real Bengali curry this time. So I made it without the vadis.
Mixed vegetables cut lengthwise
(Broad Beans,Karela,Plantain,Brinjal,Parwal,Pumpkin,Ridgegourd etc)
1 cup Coconut milk
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Methi (Fenugreek) powder

To be ground into a paste
2 tblsp Khus Khus (Poppy Seeds)
2 tblsp Mustard seeds
1" Ginger

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the vegetables and fry them till they are tender. Add the ground paste and saute for sometime.
Now add the coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, salt, Garam Masala, Methi powder and cook. At this point, the Vadis are usually after frying them in oil for sometime. Mix properly & let it cook for 2-3 minutes more. Shukto is ready.

I served this with steamed rice. Since we are using Bitter gourd as one of the vegetables, the curry has a mild bitter taste.

I am also sending this to Pooja of My Creative Ideas for the Vegetable Of the Week (VoW) event.


  1. different and nice, thanks for sharing

  2. Thank you all for your response. I am glad you like this. I am looking forward to read all your entries too...

  3. I am glad that you participated with sukto for both events. i have been looking for its good recipe on Google. now i have one :) .
    "Bawarchi" is my all time favorite movie. what a great message it has , i just love watching it to keep those positive thoughts of love and family things live around us. thanks for reminding me of that movie. I had its CD with me.

  4. Hi Sweetie,
    Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!
    Nice recipe and nostalgic recall of Bawarchi.

  5. Pooja: Thank you for the event, eagerly waiting for the roundup so I can get a lot more Karela recipes :)

  6. Swaps, Thanks! Not just for the welcome but also for introducing me to the blog world!
    I am now waiting for you to start actively posting again so that I get some ideas from you :)

  7. I like your writings a lot, in fact spent a lot of time reading them :)
    Your adaptation of Shukto is a bit different from the original one but looks good no doubt


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