(This article, about an Indian chef in Hong Kong who was offering lessons in ‘Khana Sutra’ – the art of aphrodisiac cooking – and rustling up steamy food-for-sex recipes, was published in DNA edition dated February 6, 2008, a week ahead of Valentine’s Day.)
Take a Goan chef with a passionate interest in food culture. Add a pinch of Kama Sutra wisdom. Toss in a sprinkling of Chinese and Western expatriates in Hong Kong looking to spice up their home life. Sex it all up a bit. Serve hot for Valentine’s Day…
That’s Zubin D’Souza’s surefire recipe to get you and your significant other all steamed up and pawing the ground starting this Valentine’s Day. This Goan chef from Mumbai, who has extensively researched food cultures in India and across Europe and Africa, is coming out later this year with a book on aphrodisiac cooking, called Khana Sutra. Currently in Hong Kong, where he works as an executive chef at HK Dining, D’Souza is offering cooking classes on recipes derived from his research of the Kama Sutra and other food-for-sex treatises from all over the world, and from his interactions with chefs in royal kitchens.
“The Indian culture of aphrodisiac cooking,” D’Souza told DNA, “came about from the research done by yesterday’s kings to restore population imbalances. Whenever populations dwindled as a result of epidemics or calamities or war, these recipes from the royal chefs were passed on to the people in order to increase the population.”
Then, says D’Souza, there are the traditional recipes, handed down from mother to daughter, when she left home after marriage. “They were intended to ‘keep the man faithful’.” Indian aphrodisiacs could be classified under two heads: those that enhanced libido and those that increased virility.
D’Souza, who grew up in Andheri and worked in JW Marriott Mumbai and at The Oberoi, also travelled to Europe and Africa. His explorations into food culture and aphrodisiacs in those regions are reflected in his book. He writes about a tribal potion among the Dogon tribe in central Africa, which, legend has it, could give a man “the power to deflower seventy cows”. And the Mestafagar, a willowy tree stem found in Sudan and Ethiopia, whose juice is considered a powerful aphrodisiac.
Broadly speaking, D’Souza says, there are two kinds of aphrodisiacs: those that are based on physical resemblance to body parts – bananas, cucumber, avocado (all of which resemble male genitalia), oysters (which resemble the female genitals) – and those whose ingredients can stimulate sexually – such as aniseed, almond, nutmeg (all of which are sexual stimulants for women).
D’Souza notes, based on his extensive research, that the range, diversity and depth of Indian aphrodisiac cooking is much more than similar foods in other cultures. Obviously they’re also working well, going by the number of Indians today, he jests.