The magic of aphrodisiacs | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 21, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 21, 2017

the fearless olive

The magic of aphrodisiacs

Almost all food items at some point or the other have been cloistered under the title of an aphrodisiac, with distinct qualities of not just increasing libido but also making us seem more attractive and appealing to the opposite gender. 

It is all a play of chemicals on our senses as we consume food that either makes us happy, makes the blood flow faster or simply relaxes us. Nonetheless, some foods have been known to actually work as aphrodisiacs and here are a compilation of some recipes to try out and see whether you can make the season of love more romantic and above all, healthy! 

The ancient Roman doctor Galen believed that any food that produced flatulence was an aphrodisiac. This was believed until the 18th century. In fact, most foods that resembled a sign of fertility, like an egg or even parts of the human anatomy were by default bunched up under this esteemed category and given exotic embellishments to sell their unique aphrodisiacal qualities.

Dark chocolate and chillies were the ideal combo that the Mayans guzzled down with the belief that it was an elixir and aphrodisiac. 

HOT CHOCOLATE WITH NUTMEG, CINNAMON AND CAYENNE PEPPER

Ingredients

¼ cup chocolate powder (ideally go for a dark chocolate powder but any chocolate will do)

Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon powder

2 tbsp honey

About 1 tsp Cayenne pepper (you can use normal chilli flakes or roughly grind up a dry, red roasted chilli)

1 cup milk

Method

Make a paste of the chocolate powder, the chilli flakes, nutmeg and cinnamon in a cup and finally add the honey. If you are using organic honey from the Sundarbans, it already has a high moisture content so can be used to make the paste. Boil the milk and slowly add it to the cup. You can make it frothy by pouring the milk from a height level. 

Serving

Serve it with a sprinkle of cinnamon on the edges of the cup and you can also stick in a rolled up cinnamon stick to give it some extra flavour.

Health focus

Chocolate is known as a super libido food mainly due to phenylethylamine (PEA), or the 'love supplement'. Chocolate contains L-arginine, an amino acid that increases creation of nitric oxide, which promotes blood flow to your sexual organs, enhancing the sensation, satisfaction, and desire.

HONEY

Honey is often seen as a symbol of procreation. Hippocrates (c.460-377 B.C.E.), the father of medicine, prescribed honey as a tonic. In ancient Persia, couples drank mead every day for a month, hence, the term "honeymoon".

GRILLED PUMPKINS, WALNUTS, HONEY SYRUP WITH GINGER AND DHAKA PANEER

Ingredients

½ kg pumpkin cut in square cubes, or you can use any gourd like (lau)

1 cup roasted walnuts 

¼ cup grated ginger, dry roasted for up to 1 minute

Honey syrup (½ cup honey mixed with more than half cup water to make it into a syrup. 

Add a few drops of lemon to this)

1 cup Dhaka paneer cubed 

½ tsp diced garlic

1 large spring onion, diced

1 bunch of lettuce

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp fresh basil

½ cup olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Grill the gourd after smearing it with half the oil, salt, pepper and garlic, for about 20 minutes during which they will soften or brown. Dry roast the walnuts in a pan until they crackle. Chop up all the other ingredients as for a salad. You may fix the acidity through the balsamic vinegar or lemon.

Serving

Toss up the salad and finally pour the honey and let it immerse for about 10 minutes before serving. The natural heat of the roasted ginger will come through, cutting the sweet-sour flavours of the honey mix.

Health focus

Honey is also rich in B vitamins that are needed for testosterone production, as well as boron that helps the body to metabolise and use oestrogen effectively. Not only that, some studies have also suggested that it may also enhance blood levels of testosterone.

GINGER

Known as the universal medicine in ancient India, ginger was heavily used in Ayurveda to cure a plethora of ailments, but was also considered a great aphrodisiac. 

CARROT AND GINGER SOUP WITH ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS AND LEMONGRASS

Ingredients

½ kg carrots

½ cup ginger, peeled and ground into a paste

2 large green onions (spring onions) diced

1 sprig lemongrass

½ cup pumpkin seeds

Beef broth (optional for non-vegetarians)

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil about ½ cup

Method

Sauté onions until transparent then add carrots and boil for about 10 minutes or 3-4 whistles on the pressure cooker, then add ginger (and beef broth) and boil for another 10 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, lemongrass and boil for up to 5 minutes. The soup should have reached your desired consistency. Scoop out the lemongrass and after cooling the soup, pass it through a blender to smoothen it out. Roast the pumpkin seeds.

Serving

Serve them with a sprinkle of the green parts of a spring onion, sprig of parsley or coriander leaves and the pumpkin seeds spread on top. You may add some extra virgin olive oil on top and serve with a crispy bread. 

STAR ANISE 

From the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Asians, the seeds of the star anise a.k.a. aniseed have held a high ranking on the kitchen shelf due to its aromatic qualities and many health benefits. 

LAMB WITH CUMIN, CHILLIES SMEARED ON IT AND SERVED WITH A GINGER-ANISE SEED CHUTNEY OR SOME SORT OF ORANGE AND GINGER

Ingredients

2 lamb chops

1 tsp garlic paste 

1 tbsp cumin powder

2 large oranges, 5-6 star anise 

Salt and pepper to taste

Ginger, half of it made into a paste (1tbsp) and the other half cut into thin strips and dry roasted (1 tbsp)

½ cup olive oil 

Method

Marinate the lamb chops for about 1 hours in a mix of olive oil, the juice of 1 orange, the garlic paste, salt, pepper, cumin powder and powder of the star anise seeds or aniseed. 

In a baking paper smeared with olive oil, place these in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes turning over the sides and ensuring it cooks up to your desired level of softness. 

You can also grill this but ensure it does not burn as the orange will let it burn faster, in which case leave out the orange from the marinating mix. Cut the other orange in round wedges and caramelise them in a drop of oil until they turn golden. 

Carefully extract this juice only taking the pulp. Mix this with the roasted ginger strips. Add a pinch of aniseed powder to this. Season with salt and pepper. You might blend it to get the required sauce consistency.

Serving

Serve the lamb chops with the orange and ginger sauce and a side of roasted potatoes or some bread.  

Health focus

Anise contains estrogenic compounds (female hormones) which have been reported to induce similar effects to testosterone, thus increasing libido. The seeds are an excellent source of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc, potassium and copper.

Photo: Collected

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