Celebrating Valentine's Day is easy. All you need red roses, a heart shaped cake, some sugar candies and lots of sweet treats in red and pink, and it's a hit. It's getting boring as well. So what if you want your Day Of Love minus that typical extra splash of red and the extra sweetness of sugary treats?
We asked some of the best minds in Culinary World – seasoned and new – to give us dishes that may not fit the common perception of Valentine's Day, but are wonderful personification of their idea of love. What we got were taste powerhouses, a few like these:
By: Madhulika Dash
Vikas Seth, Executive Chef, Cle Dubai
Labour of Love: Duck B'stilla - Moroccan Style Small Meat Pies with Sweet Spices
Food per se defines love. And every year I discover something new to show that love. Like the 'Duck B'stilla', a Moroccan Style Small Meat Pies with Sweet Spices that I would love to cook this Valentine.
And the reason isn't just the association of meat pies with love, but also the fact that the food comes with blessing in form of a 'Fatima Hand' in Vanilla Pod sugar. Tradition has it that the Fatima referred to Prophet Muhammad daughter. The Hand of Fatima represents femininity, and is referred as the woman's holy hand; it is believed to have extraordinary characteristics that can protect people from evil and other dangers. And what better way to profess your love with that extra blessing!
Megha Kohli, Chef-Owner, Laavash By Saby
Labour of Love: Devil's Egg by Saby
The dish I absolutely love is egg – I can have it any which way and any time of the day. But then, food is like mood, it changes with the way you feel, and as time passes. But the one thing that has remained my absolute favourite since the time I have been able to taste it is the Devil's Egg By Saby that is one of the signature dishes at Lavaash By Saby. It essentially a wedding of Devil's Egg and Nargisi kebab, and a perfect ode to both the masterpieces.
What makes it my choice to showcase love is of course the technique of making it. You need to get that proportion of the keema that coats the egg just right for the two to cook beautifully – which is crisp chicken mince and a soft egg inside with a gooey egg yolk. Isn't it how 'love' feels?!
Paul Kinny, Director Culinary, The Phoenix Mills Limited
Labour Of Love: Porcini Truffle Risotto
Risotto has always defined love for me. Not because it's made with wine – the love poison of the yore – but because of its simplicity and the patience and nursing that making a good risotto demands. Much like love, which needs time, the right kind of warmth and spice to mature and stay.
Of course the use of truffle and porcini lends the dish that extra rich taste that makes it an absolute delight to serve to your loved one.
Shantanu Mehrotra, Executive Chef, Indian Accent
Labour of Love: Assorted Lolipops
Nothing defines love for me than a series of good Indian treats. Like the assorted lollipop. Hidden beneath their chocolate coat are things that often we have to celebrate – be it an occasion, a person or an event.
My favourite remains the kulfi lollipop that aptly describes my idea of love – while love is universal, how is it expressed differs from person to person. Plus the playfulness of discovering what lies inside just adds to the mood – making it a perfect 'love dish' or dessert.
Sahil Singh, Executive Chef, Modern Asian Cuisine, PA PA YA
Labour of Love: Asiette of Banana Split, 5 ways
What makes this dish quintessentially romantic is a coming together of banana as a core ingredient in its various renditions, which I feel is much like any relationship with its many hues.
Dhwani Agarwal, Sr. Sous Chef, Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra
Labour of Love: Jalebi caviar, saffron glaze, pistachio rabri
Jalebi is reminiscent of the most memorable and nostalgic moments of our lives, since childhood and represents love in its most natural forms.
The Jalebi Caviar is not just a modern take on this archetypal classic but is also one ordered most often by the guy to hide the ring while proposing to his perspective bride-to-be.
Mujbeer Rehman, Curative Chef, Kitchenetteawadh
Labour of Love: Bihari Boti
Kebabs have always been associated with the Mughals, and quite rightly too. But Bihari boti, which is Indian version of the famous steak is completely Indian – in fact, the recipes used till date, has elements if cooking that is very close to the one used in Mithila.
History aside, what makes it my absolute favourite is the foreplay of the ingredients used in the meat. Each bite is capable of throwing a surprise element, much like love!
Gaurav Chakraborty,Executive Chef, Novotel Imagica Khopoli
Labour Of Love: Goat cheese, date and pinenuts in phylo served with citrus olive & Grape Chutney
The ingredients used in the dish have Aphrodisiac properties that can rekindle the warm emotions that we relate with love. Each bit of the dish makes one feel close to their partner and loved one.
Valentine's is about spending time and building memories with each other and the dish will help create some beautiful reminisces.
Anoop Verma, Owner, Aioli BBQ And Grill Smoke House
Labour of Love: Grill Prawns with Rosemary and Olive Oil
I have always identified seafood with the concept of love. Their delicateness, the way they marry well to all flavours and give simple dishes a new meaning is exactly what happens when you are in love.
This dish is my ode to my idea of love, while keeping it light and flavourful. Of course, much like love, char grilling makes any dish taste infinitely better.
Mehernosh Khajotia, Baker-Owner, Celebration Fine Confections
Labour of Love: Dark Chocolate Orange Gateau
Cakes, unless tea cakes and sponge, do not travel well. But this one does. It can really go the distance. Incidentally, much like the way I fall in love, I came across this brilliant piece of cake work, quite accidentally. A client of mine requested for a different chocolate cake that would last a long car journey to Gujarat.
So I made this delicious dark chocolate EGGLESS cake with dark ganache and Orange curd filling and topped it off with Italian Candied Orange peel – all garnished with a single milk chocolate flower. The funny part is I made this cake without ever tasting it, but by my gut feeling.
And when I did taste it later, I found my cake of love. It simply defines how love helps you go out and do something different without fear!
Navin Kumar Singh, Executive Chef, Radisson Blu, Guwahati
Labour of Love: Poached Halibut with wasabi dash and shaved asparagus.
For me love isn't just a plain, one texture dish – it's in fact a burst of flavours and unique combinations that gives it the feeling of wholesomeness – and the ability to create memories that are bouquet of sweet, salty, bitter, tangy and spicy with that extra twang of being fresh. Just like this dish here, where simple flavours come together to create a memorable dish.
Manav Kaul, Executive Chef, Sofitel Mumbai Bkc
Labour Of Love: Pani Puri
For me, Valentine's Day is all about the person you are with more than the dish presented to them. This day is meant to take you back to your old days and cherish the moments you have spent with your loved one.
It could reflect the quirkiness, the sweetness or sour moments in a relationship but most of all the dish needs to be balanced to create the perfect flavour. For me, that's pani puri!
Neha Deepak Shah, Chef-Owner, Firki
Labour of Love: Assorted Sweet Platter
The dish defines my life full of love – of things that have made it rich and happy, and ingredients that I have developed a love for because it was introduced to me by someone dear to me – dad, mom, sister, friend, chefs… This dish is an ode to that in little bites.
Aryan Singh, Promoter, The Jugaad Cafe & Bar
Labour of Love: Chilli Channa and Kurkure Bhutta
I would make my Valentine eat, a very cool starter called the crispy chilli channa which is chickpea coated with a sweet and spicy Chinese-style sauce along with 'Kurkure' bhutta , which is whole corn served with a tangy sweet & spicy sauce coating with actual 'Kurkure' crumbs on it.
It is very much my definition of Love – that introduces you to the masaledar side of life!
Sana Chopra, Executive Director, Carl's JR. India
Labour of love: Mango Jalapeno Pepper Chicken Burger
I would serve the mango jalapeno pepper chicken burger. It is sauce used inside that defines the relationship in the families – spicy, tangy yet with that hint of sweetness. And a perfect way to celebrate the essence of love!