Shakespeare famously said “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it.” (Twelfth Night). But cultures around the world have long known that food itself can be the food of love – certain spices, condiments, fruits and other culinary items have the property of heightening the pleasures of love.
Here are five ingredients to spice up your love life this Valentine’s Day.
The sweetness of love
The word ‘aphrodisiac’ comes from Aphrodite, the ancient Greek Goddess of Love. Chocolates are universally acknowledged as the quintessential food of love, a tasty aphrodisiac. So what better gift than chocolates for the love of your life!
The taste of love
Ever wondered how the term ‘honeymoon’ came into being? Historians tell us of an age-old custom where couples were given mead, a drink made of fermented honey, for a month before their wedding day, to ensure a fruitful marriage.
The heart of love
Mother Nature shaped the strawberry into a perfect little red heart, and the early Romans saw it as a symbol of Venus, the Goddess of Love in their pantheon. The association transcended geographic boundaries, and in the French countryside, there was a long-held custom of offering newly-married couples cold strawberry soup to ensure that they had a romantic honeymoon.
The essence of love
Vanilla may be ‘plain’ in comparison with some of the exotic flavours that are now available, but there is something undeniably sweet and innocent, and therefore erotic about its aroma.
Flowers of love
India has its own favourite aphrodisiacs. The tradition of giving a newly-married couple a drink of milk infused with saffron is centuries old. Modern medical science has shown that saffron has a positive effect on neurotransmitters, and is especially beneficial for women.
Seeds of love
Fenugreek is another ingredient that Indians believe has an effect on love life. Its properties include lowering blood pressure.
“The act of eating together is a binding experience. It helps forge new bonds and strengthen old ones. Nothing speaks of love quite as much as food, does. Our team of Master Chefs and Mixologists at The Lodhi, New Delhi have curated a special menu for this special day, showcasing an array of flavours from around the globe paired with the finest beverages.” says Vijay Thapliyal, Executive Chef of The Lodhi, New Delhi.
ONION SAFFRON SOUP
Serving: 2 portions
Garlic Slice: clove
White Onion: 2 (medium size)
Black Pepper: 1gm
Saffron: 5-10 threads
Vegetable stock: ½ ltr
Clarified butter: 1tsp
EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) : 1tbsp
Salt: To taste
Blanched small shape pasta (optional)
l Heat butter and EVOO in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat.
l Add garlic, onion and salt, and cook for five minutes. Reduce heat to very low flame and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes without browning.
l Now make a Bouquet Garni (a bunch of herbs put together in a muslin cloth for flavour) with mace, clove, black pepper and thyme, and add it in along with the vegetable stock, stirring occasionally.
l Cook for 50 to 60 minutes, until it gets very tender.
l Remove from the heat and remove the Bouquet Garni. Cool it down for some time.
l Puree the mixture to a creamy consistency.
l Return to boil, stirring constantly. Adjust the seasoning.
l Garnish with clarified butter and saffron strands.
l Pasta can be added, if desired.
BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE, RAW HONEY
Serving: 1 glass
Probiotic Curd: 400gms
Raw Honey: 30gms
lBlend the blueberries, probiotic curd and honey in a blender until frothy.
lScrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula
l Serve immediately.
ORANGE CRÈME BRULEE, VANILLA BEAN
Serving: 5 portions
Vanilla Pod: 1no
Orange Zest: 1tbsp
Golden Egg Yolk: 125gms
lBoil cream, milk, vanilla bean and orange peel together in a sauce pan.
lWhen boiled, take off from heat and keep aside for some time.
l Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks and sugar.
l Now gently add and whisk the egg yolk mixture into the boiled cream mixture.
lDivide the whole mixture in baking bowls and bake at 140 degree for 45 to 50 minutes.
lFor serving, add sugar on top and caramelise under a salamander or using a blow torch.
Serving : for 8
Egg Yolks: 7 nos
Egg White: 5 nos
Mascarpone Cheese: 500gms
Espresso: 15 shots
Savoiardi Biscuits or Sponge cake fingers: 15nos
l Heat sugar and water to 120 degree celsius. Take off from the heat and bring down the temperature to 118 degrees.
l Whisk egg yolks in a bowl. Now add the sugar-water mixture to the egg yolks and mix well.
l Very gently, mix soft mascarpone cheese with the egg yolk mixture.
l Take another bowl and whip egg whites to soft peaks. Now fold the egg whites with the mascarpone and egg yolk mix.
l Take espresso shots in a large bowl and dip the savoiardi.
l In a cup, arrange mascarpone mixture and dipped savoiardi one by one; repeat this two times. Chill for 2-3 hours.
l Now melt the chocolate and mould into a spoon shape.
l Sprinkle the tiramisu with some cocoa powder on top and serve with the chocolate spoon.
DUCK LEG CONFIT
Serving: 2 portions
Duck Leg: 2nos
Cinnamon: One pinch
Sea Salt: To taste
Oil: ½ ltr
l Marinate the duck leg with rosemary, thyme, sea salt, crushed garlic, fenugreek and cinnamon, and let it rest overnight.
l Place the overnight marinated duck leg in a stock pot with butter and oil. Cook over very slow flame at 75 to 80 degree for 3-4 hours.
l Take out the duck leg from the oil in a perforated tray and let the excess oil drain. Refrigerate the duck leg for 2-3 hours.
l Scrape off most of the fat. Then cook skin side down in a large, heavy non-stick skillet over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is crisp and duck is heated thoroughly.
l Serve hot with your choice of grilled vegetables.
Serving: 1 kg
Baking Powder: 5gms
Whipped French Cream: 250gms
Mascarpone Cheese: 175gms
Whipped Rich Cream: 175gms
Fresh Strawberries (chopped & sliced)
Sliced Roasted Almonds
lAdd the flour, sugar, curd, oil and baking powder in a kitchen-aid. Mix everything together on speedy level till consistency is smooth with no lumps.
l Take a baking mould and cover the base with foil.
l Pour the mixture till ¾ level of the mould and put it on a baking tray.
l Set the oven at 180 degree celsius. Once the oven reaches 180 degrees, put the baking try in. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
l Check the sponge by inserting a knife or toothpick. If it comes out clean, then the sponge is cooked.
l Take it out and leave it for cooling.
Frosting and Layering the Cake:
l For the frosting, mix the whipped French cream, mascarpone cheese and whipped rich cream together.
l Take fresh strawberries and divide each strawberry into two parts. Roughly chop half part and slice the other part.
l Cut the cake sponge into three layers.
l Take a sponge layer and soak it in sugar syrup(should not be too sweet).
l Spread the frosting over it equally and sprinkle the chopped strawberries.
l Repeat the above two steps for the second layer.
l On the final layer, put the frosting and place the sliced strawberries on top.
l With the help of a silicon brush, glaze the strawberries with a diamond glaze.
l Cover the sides of the cake with sliced roasted almonds.
— All recipes by Chef Vijay Thapliyal