• In our family, we love to have regular nights where everything is themed around a particular country. (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

A classic Bengali dish, shukto makes use of the delicious veg you've got in the house and is commonly served as a starter. 






Skill level

Average: 4 (12 votes)

"There’s so much to learn in this fabulous recipe - from the use of bottle gourd and drumsticks - two vegetables adored in the subcontinent - and an introduction to the favourite spices of Bangladesh and India - the classic five-spice or panch phoron which our friend chef Tapos Singha (BANG Street food) loves to use. The result is deeply satisfying, perfectly spiced and a showcase of unusual vegetables." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth


  • 200 g split mung bean (moong dal)
  • 1 medium bottle gourd
  • 2 drumsticks (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 3 dried red kashmiri chillies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander  
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric  
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 125 ml (½ cup) hot water
  • handful coriander leaves, chopped
  • handful sawtooth coriander leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp mustard oil
  • coriander cress and roti, to serve

Panch phoron

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soak the moong dal in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain, wash well and drain again.

Meanwhile, for the panch phoron, mix all the spices together.

Wash, peel and cut the bottle gourd into fine batons. Wash, peel and cut the drumsticks into the same lengths as the bottle gourd.

Heat the vegetable oil and ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the chillies, bay leaf and the panch phoron and cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the bottle gourd, season with salt and cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Add the drumsticks and drained moong dal and cook until the dal starts to break down (press it between your fingers to test). Add the dried spices and cook for a couple of minutes then add the hot water.  Check the seasoning. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the dal has broken down. 

Stir through both corianders and remove from the heat. Drizzle with mustard oil and sprinkle over the coriander cress. Serve with roti.



• Drumsticks are the pods of the tree of the same name, a native of Northern India. The pods and leaves are typically used in India to add to soups and curries. 


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.

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