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Dudh Shuktani – Rabindranath Tagore’s favourite delicacy

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Thakurbarir heshel or the kitchen of Jorasanko Thakurbari was no ordinary place. There were many residents of this famous house who were good cooks, passionate about delicacies, many of which they created. Hemendrakumar Thakur was one of them. His hobby of cooking various dishes is known widely. His daughter, Pragyadebi has offered many new delicacies, new words to the cuisine of Bengal and introduced the first menu card in Bengali. Indira Debi Choudhurani also researched about many secret and special delicacies. Whenever she could lay her hands upon a new delicacy, she would note it down in her secret notebook.  

Rabindranath Tagore himself was a food connoisseur. He never cooked himself, but often sat by Mrinalini Debi and gave instructions on new ingredients. They would keep on experimenting with various dishes. Tagore, once wrote with a pang of humour and remorse in a letter, “She knew the art of cooking very well, but I had taken up the charge of creating innovation in food. This list featuring scrumptious delicacies was present in my wife’s cookbook. My eldest daughter had that with her. Both have disappeared now. People will always know me as a poet. But nobody would know me as a cook.” 

‘Dudh Shuktani’ was a favourite delicacy of Tagore. Thakurbari had special rights on this delicacy but now it is well-known among the masses. The following delicacy has been presented with certain alterations to make it more delicious. 

RECIPE OF DUDH SHUKTANI

Ingredients:
Potato – 1
Moringa (shojne data)- 4
Sweet potato- 1
Brinjal- 1
Potol - 1
Ridge gourd (jhinge)- 2
Bitter gourd(ucche)- 2
Plantain (Kachkola)- 1
Ripe papaya- 1
Poppy paste: 3 spoons
Mustard paste: 2 spoons
Ginger paste: 1 spoon
Green chilli paste: 2 spoons
Radhuni paste: 1 spoon
Milk: 3 cups
Ghee: 2 spoons
Bori, Bay leaves- 2
White oil, salt and sugar to taste.

PREPARATION:

1. Fry the boris in a pan, and keep it in a separate vessel. 

2. Keep the poppy seeds and mustard seeds in luke warm water for a while before you grind them. 

3. Fry bitter gourd and brinjal and keep them away. 

4. Heat the oil and ghee in the cooking vessel. Add mustard, bay leaves, radhuni and add the vegetables. Stir it well.  Add ginger and radhuni paste and stir. Heat the milk on one side.

5. After you are through with frying the vegetables, add poppy paste and mustard paste and stir it well for five minutes. 

6. After five minutes, pour milk and put a lid on the vessel. Keep it covered in a low flame for ten minutes. After you open the lid, you will find that the vegetables are boiled. 

7. Add milk if required. After the milk reaches its boiling point, add bitter gourd, bori, salt and sugar. Add ghee and switch off the flame. 

8. Cover the lid for five minutes. Dudh shuktani is ready to be devoured. Have it with rice and gondhoraj lebu for an unforgettable meal.