The ultimate love food: strawberries
Food historian and archaeologist Kurush Dalal grins when I ask him about aphrodisiacs: "Actually, there is no aphrodisiac in foods. Shilajit (a sticky substance found in the Himalayas meant for increasing libido), you may argue, but nothing really works. There are no magic pills, though we have been surrounded with stories since ancient times," he tells us.
Did you know the Germans wouldn't grow potatoes and the Europeans kept away from the love apple? Now, they consume it extensively!
"Closer home, according to Ayurveda, any food that is tamasic in nature - like meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic, fermented foods, such as vinegar, and stale leftover food, contaminated or overripe substances - is heavily responsible for sexual arousal. For example, onion and garlic," he adds.
It is interesting to note that aphrodisiacs are not restricted to the sexual plane. They are emotion triggers. Dalal leaves us with some interesting ingredients for love potions: "From dried rhinoceros horn, to rendered fat of the monitor lizard and even the sweat from a white horse, the ingredients were specific. While some potions were meant to make the wife more attractive to the husband, others were meant to repel the husband from other women."
Chef Larry Paul, head and brand chef at British Brewing Company in Mumbai, says, "Certain foods, by nature when consumed stimulate the mind and body. While innocent looking, they contain certain chemicals that boost your hormone levels, thereby putting you in the mood. There are lots of ingredients that are linked to aphrodisiacs from the Greek and Roman times. For example, aniseeds were considered aphrodisiacs! Even the Mayan civilisation worshipped the cacao tree. Lesser known fact, the Middle East used to consider carrots as aphrodisiacs. On the other hand, history also says Tibetan monks were forbidden from entering temples if they had consumed garlic, since it is an aphrodisiac!"
Chef Ishaanee Haware from The Koffee Works in Mumbai says, aphrodisiacs date back to the era of goddess Aphrodite. "She is usually clothed in Archaic and Classical art and wears an elaborately embroidered band across her chest, which held her magic powers of love, desire, and seductive allurement. According to Homer, 'She inspired love and lust among the gods and mortals. And all the creatures that live on land or in the sea.'"
The latest trend predictions for 2018 is using flowers like roses or orchids to enhance flavours of dishes: "think a rose-infused syrup for dessert, candied rose or candied orchid garnish - the possibilities are endless," says Chef Boo Kim of One Street Over and Bastian in Mumbai.
Here's a list of ingredients in your kitchen that will do the deed too:
Say yes to chilli peppers, for they raise the spice levels in your food, as capsaicin boosts testosterone levels and increases sex drive in men.
As one of the most popular aphrodisiacs, the heart shape and the red colour are what add to the appeal of strawberry as a love food. This is probably why the Romans held the fruit in high regard as a symbol for the goddess of love, Venus. Nutritionally, strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps promote blood flow all through the body. And staying healthy is always sexy!
Asparagus & avocado
Asparagus and avocado are rich in Vitamin E know to stimulate the production of sex hormones in both sexes. Go green!
The effect of love and chocolates is all about a chemical spark. Chocolate contains tryptophan, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal, as well as phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine, is released in the brain when people fall in love. And, thus, there's no reason why you must not have it regularly.
Shaped as the phallic, the fruit is a source for certain vitamins, including potassium and vitamin B that leads to the production of hormones. This one is one of the most popular of aphrodisiacs.
Casanova, the 18th century lover who used to breakfast on 50 oysters, was right. In 2005, a team of American and Italian researchers analysed bivalve molluscs and found them to be rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.
The pomegranate is the culinary symbol of Aphrodite in Greek history. Some say the forbidden fruit of the Bible was not apple at all, but a pomegranate.
Bees make honey through pollination and this is considered a symbol of procreation. We all know about the popular birds and bees saying! Historically, the origins of the word "honeymoon" can be traced to mead, an alcoholic beverage prepared from honey that was consumed by newly-weds till the first moon of their marriage for a happy, fruitful union. Nutritionally, honey contains boron, which regulates production of oestrogen and testosterone levels in the body and also provides a natural energy boost.
A classic case of an aphrodisiac due to its shape, figs are energy power houses and rich in amino acids. Their texture and fragrance are known to have sensual effects on eaters.