Shukto – A Bengali Bitter-Sweet Medley (Instant Pot)

Shukto_Bengali Bittersweet MedleyOk! So I made shukto, in my instant pot.  This is “take two” to get the right consistency.  The husband and I both enjoy Shukto! I always pick up the assortment of vegetables when I make a mega Indian store run. Shukto is an heirloom Bengali dish. It offers a classic combination of vegetables with a delicate, nuanced bittersweet taste. The bitterness comes from using bitter gourd or korola balanced with an assortment of vegetables such as squash, radishes, eggplant, green bananas.

Most people swear by the use of a spice called Radhuni in this recipe. Radhuni or wild celery seeds, is a spice that I have seen used only in Bengali cuisine. I was really surprised to find it in Patel Brothers ,when we went for an annual shopping binge. Radhuni was an unthinkable spice, even a few years ago. Almost all of India has some particular combination combination of assorted vegetables in a soothing basic gravy. In South India you will find Aviyal and in Bengali homes like mine you will find a shukto.


A general mishmash of vegetables, the shukto is reserved for lunchtime eating. Well, since I cannot imagine savoring a shukto with anything other than steamed white rice maybe with a dollop of ghee, it is just as well. So, like everything else I make, the instant pot cuts out loads of time when making this dish.


Overall, there really is not set way to make this, ingredients like milk and a poppy seed paste is what I have seen my mother use. Then there is the tempering and this is where the Radhuni comes into play. If you do not have Radhuni, the Bengali Five Spice or Panchphoron will work.

Shukto – A Bengali Bitter-Sweet Medley (Instant Pot)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

Shukto – A Bengali Bitter-Sweet Medley (Instant Pot)

Shukto is a traditional Bengali bittersweet medley of vegetables. This recipe speeds up the process in the instant pot.


    For the poppy seed paste
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds or posto
  • Water for grinding
  • For the Vegetables
  • 1 medium sized bitter melon
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1/4 kabocha or butternut squash
  • 20 small red radishes
  • 1 green banana or plantain
  • 1 small potato
  • 3 tablespoons mustard oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • To finish
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Radhuni or panchphoron (Bengali Five Spice Mix)
  • 2 to 3 dried red chilies


  1. Dry grind the poppy seeds and then place in a blender with 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. Set this aside.
  2. Cut the vegetables into large 2 inch pieces. The seeds of bitter melon should be removed, and the squash and potato should be peeled.
  3. Turn the instant pot onto saute and add in the mustard oil. Add in the ginger paste and the cumin and add in the chopped vegetables and salt and sugar saute lightly for a minute or more.
  4. Add in the water and turn the pressure cooker on manual low pressure mode for 1 minute.
  5. When done do a quick release.
  6. Turn back onto saute and add in the milk and the poppy seed paste and bring to a simmer for a minutes.
  7. In a separate pan, heat the ghee and add in the radhuni or the Bengali Five Spice and the dried chilies and wait until the ghee is fragrant and the chilies darken.
  8. Pour the seasoned ghee over the vegetables and stir in.
  9. Serve hot with white rice.

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