Forget chocolates, roses or teddies. Instead, enter the kitchen, don the apron and stir up a storm… not just in the wok but in your hearts too, says the Hottest Chef in the World — Vikas Khanna. “Instead of breaking your heads over what to gift your love, just cook a nice three-course meal for him or her. There’s no better aphrodisiac than good food,” suggests the India-born New York-based Michelin starred chef.
Well, when such advice comes from the man, who was voted as one of the sexiest men alive, one would want to believe him. “Cleopatra used various aphrodisiac food to woo men, and haven’t you heard the practice of newly-weds drinking saffron milk on their first night...? Saffron, cardamom, and a host of popular Indian spices are some of the most effective aphrodisiacs of the world,” says Khanna, when you question him about the ‘real effects’ of aphrodisiac food.
So, what’s the ideal romantic meal like? “A three course meal is perfect. Don’t make it too elaborate,” says the 41-year-old, who crafted his first Valentine’s Day menu, Khanna Sutra, way back in 2002 for his New York restaurant, Salaam Bombay, and has now put the best recipes from 10 such menus created over the years to pen his latest book, Khanna Sutra: Food Lessons in Love. “This Valentine’s Day, women should rest and men should do all the cooking,” suggests Khanna, adding, “Come on guys, cooking is not that tough. If you can make the Taj Mahal, can’t you cook a small meal for your love?”
Beetroot-citron soup with nutmeg
2tbsp canola oil, 3 medium beetroots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, 2 cloves garlic
(finely) chopped, 1tbsp flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 1tps grated
rind of Buddha’s fingers citron or any variety
of lemon, 1/2tsp ground nutmeg, 1.5 cup vegetable stock, 4 small slices of spice-
crusted bread such as a crispy baguette,
4 sprigs of thyme, salt to taste.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium to high heat and add the beetroot, garlic and flour, and sauté. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes until the garlic is golden brown. Add the coconut milk, grated rind, nutmeg, salt, and stock, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the beetroots are cooked. Remove 8 cubes of beetroot and cut them into small dices, and reserve for garnish. Serve the soup hot, topped with bread slices, beetroot dices and thyme.
Beetroot-citron soup with nutmeg
While beetroot contains high levels of boron, a mineral which is known to boost the production of the sex hormones, nutmeg acts as a stimulant in raising body heat and sweetening breath that in turn increases attraction.
Shrimp sautéed with rainbow peppers and pine nuts:
Shrimp protein breaks down to amino acid phenylalanine that is known to increase the level of sex drive-boosting neurotransmitters in the brain. Pine nuts contain zinc that help produce testosterone.
Stuffed Apples with pomegranate and pistachios
While pistachios are known to increase sexual desire due to the presence of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, pomegranate seeds improve blood flow and are known to increase genital sensitivity.
Stuffed apples with pomegranate and pistachios
6 large Macintosh or Empire apples, Juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lightly toasted pistachios, 1/2tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4tps ground cinnamon, 4tbsp butter, cut into pieces, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 2tbsp dried pomegranate seeds, powdered or finely ground.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the top and bottom off of each apple, about 1/2 to 1/2 inch from the stem end and reserve the tops. Gently core and hollow out each apple to make room for the filling. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Overstuff the apples and replace the tops. Bake 20 minutes in a small oven-safe dish or a muffin tin to keep the apples from tumbling over. Serve hot.
Shrimp sautéed with rainbow peppers and pine nuts
1tbsp vegetable oil, 1tps minced ginger, 2 cloves
garlic (minced), 2 cups assorted peppers, cut into
1-inch dices, 4tbsp pine
nuts, 10 shrimp (about 2/3 pound) cleaned and deveined, freshly ground black pepper, 1tps rice-wine vinegar,
2tbsp water, 1 bunch alfalfa sprouts for garnish (optional), Salt to taste.
Heat the oil over medium to high heat in a wok; add ginger and garlic and fry for a minute, stirring continuously. Add the peppers and pine nuts and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Toss in the shrimp, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until the shrimp curls and turns opaque or pink. Add the vinegar and water and cook for 2 minutes till all the flavours have blended. Serve hot garnished with alfalfa sprouts.
What’s an aphrodisiac?
An aphrodisiac is a substance that boosts sexual desire due to the presence of chemicals that stimulate the libido. The word aphrodisiac is derived from Aphrodite — the Greek goddess of love, who charmed all by creating feelings of love and lust.