Valentine’s Day food must be dressed to impress. And, Indian food can be dressed as good as any other cuisine.
Think about what makes a romantic dinner. Dressing up, candles, mood lighting, wine.
But what about the food itself? Does it have to be Italian or French with fancy sounding names?
No, not really. It is the mood that food induces which makes it romantic. As far names go, you can come up with your own fancy ones.
We must agree with one thing though. Food for Valentine’s Day must look swanky! It must be dressed to impress. And Indian food can be dressed to impress as good as any other cuisine, if not more.
Behold! A feast of gastronomic fares to tickle desi and non-desi taste buds this Valentine’s Day!
Welcome your partner with a platter of assorted nuts and dry fruits while you get your first course ready. Now let’s get into the dirty details.
Indian food has an endless range of starters to choose from. However, for Valentine’s Day easy finger food will probably fare the best.
Think of golden baked or shallow fried fritters complemented with different chutneys: fresh mint-coriander, tangy tamarind sauce or tender coconut.
You can also stuff the fritters or pakoras (see the recipe here) with chicken, seafood, vegetables (works well with greens and aubergine) or cheese to suit yourselves.
If you’re a little more adventurous, try the Kerala Prawn Roast. Tone down the spice and temper it with a little coconut milk, spike it on a skewer and you’ll be good to go.
If you’re looking for something completely different try Curried dumplings (also called Pan Fried Momos). This dish is a wonderful fusion of Indian, Nepali and Chinese cuisines. Like the fritters, you can select a stuffing of your choice. Trust us, it will surprise you.
Indian main courses usually tend to be heavy, and you wouldn’t want to be stuffed on Valentine’s Day.
So, while you indulge yourself and your partner in an exquisite looking feast, remember to keep the main course light.
In which case, seafood and chicken will be your proteins of choice. Lamb, Mutton, Pork and Beef tend to be on heavier side so even if they are nice and fatty, leave them aside this time.
Pomfret Mappas is a fish curry from Kerala, a state in South India; it is a simple dish to prepare. It goes well with appams which are another treat to your eyes.
Although a breakfast favorite, appam – which is a pancake made of fermented rice batter and coconut milk – soaks up all the lovely nuances of the toddy vinegar infused coconut milk gravy of the Pomfret Mappas.
Daab Chingri is a festive dish of Bengalis around the world; it is a prawn dish cooked in a tight coconut shell.
It sounds complicated but it is quite possible to do at home – and because it looks so difficult, it aims to impress. Always does. And, it will go perfectly with the Sri Lankan Milk Bhath.
For the vegetarians, Aloo Posto – potatoes cooked with poppy seeds (yes, you get poppy seeds at local Indian supermarkets) – will be a great dish to go with flavoured or unflavoured rice or breads (especially puris).
This is probably the one course you want to focus on for Valentine’s Day. India is a land of sweets. Every region of the country has its own specialty in sweet-making but there is little competition for Bengali sweets – they top the charts.
From misti doi to rasmalai, Bengali sweets offer a variety. It is not as heavy and is made of relatively lesser clarified butter or ghee than its counterparts. The best of Bengali misti includes sandesh, kala jamun, and rasgulla.
There are many modern takes on Bengali sweets, some of which using chocolate. And we all know what chocolate is good for!
Apart from Bengali sweets, you always have the option of barfis, kheer, kulfi and phirni. A favourite will have to be the white chocolate phirni.
You have to be a connoisseur to handpick good Indian wine but for those of you who are not too fussy, Nashik, Hampi Hills and Solapur wines are good brands to look out for.
Hampi Hill’s Krsma Sangiovese 2013 is a subtle white wine at good value for money, the Charosa Reserve Tempranillo 2012 was rated the ‘best red’, and Grover-Zampa Soiree Brut Rose is a warm sparkling wine with a distinctive taste.
The evergreen tip is: ‘always select your wine after planning your menu’ and things will go well.
Setting the Stage
Like we said before, it is all about the stage when it comes to putting on a romantic dinner. Be prepared to clean up.
A neat and clean living room and kitchen is always a plus. Fresh table cloths, clean cutlery and spotless china are absolutely important.
As for the table, invest in some sweet smelling scented candles and if you wish, substitute the candles with some desi diyas. It will make things look more authentic!
Roses look wonderful on a dinner table but for a change, try tulips or any other colourful flowers you might like.
Also, ensure you that have breakfast ingredients ready too, you know, just in case things go as planned!