This Valentine’s, break the norm and skip the extravagant dinner date and make the best memories at home with a home-cooked meal, prepared with a special ingredient, love.
From a quick seafood meal to a delectable breakfast spread, there’s no better way to surprise your sweetheart this Valentine’s than preparing the meal yourself. Wondering what you can whip up? We spoke to top chefs in Nairobi who recommended some easy delicious dishes.
Chef Aris Athanasiou The Executive Chef at Movenpick Hotel & Residences recommends going beyond using ingredients such as chocolate, edible flowers and champagne that will surprise your loved one. For the seafood lover, Chef Aris recommends a prawn dish.
“Prawns only need a few minutes to be ready so this is a dish anyone can make at home. Sauté the prawns with olive oil, butter and garlic. Add celery, carrots and to make the dish more exciting you can add vodka and flambé the prawns for an extra kick. Add squeezed orange juice or lime juice plus zest and cook the meal for only three minutes to avoid the prawns from losing their juices,” he says.
Add butter, Chef Aris says, to make the sauce a little thick and to give it consistency. Serve the dish with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.
“Scallops are an alternative dish that can also be prepared in a similar style as they also need about the same time to cook. If there’s more budget the seafood can also be substituted with lobster,” he adds.
Chef Aris recommends seafood because not only are they superfoods but they also hold aphrodisiac capacities that make them ideal for a romantic meal.
For vegetarians, he recommends a salad with fruits such as mangoes, strawberries, Parmesan cheese flakes, arugula dressed with olive oil and mustard. This salad is fresh and fruity, perfect as Valentine’s dinner starter.
“For the main course, I recommend a vegetable musata, a dish that is originally from Greece, my home. It features layers of vegetables, such as aubergine, zucchini, grilled vegetables such as carrot and peppers. Everything is layered together with vegetable cream and then baked. Risotto with green asparagus will also work perfectly for Valentines, served with vegetable stock,” advises Chef Aris.
For dessert, a chocolate souffle, chocolate fondue or chocolate cake will cap off the night on a delicious note.
Chef Glen Movali The chef at Kafe Koko at Two Rivers Mall says you cook African dishes.
“A boneless chicken dish served with either coconut rice, fries, sweet potato and pumpkin mash or chapati would definitely do the trick. Marinate the chicken for about 30-40 minutes with garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and olive oil, then later grill the chicken and serve with vegetables on the side,” he says.
This type of chicken cooks fast that gives you more time to share with your partner as you enjoy the meal and the marination adds more flavour to the meal.
Serve the meal with passion juice or a quality sparkling white wine, which will balance with the chicken.
Chef Chandra Pandey
The Executive Chef at Four Points by Sheraton, recommends starting the day by sharing a meal with your significant other.
“If you’re married or you live with your partner then breakfast is a meal that is most commonly never shared as frequently as other meals. This is why I recommend a hearty Valentine’s breakfast as a special meal you can prepare for your partner,” he says.
“A rich cream cheese omelette, with mushrooms, fresh juices such as orange and carrot combination would be refreshing.” A chilled glass of white wine would also bring some excitement to the breakfast spread, it is, after all, Valentine’s and according to the chef, nothing can make it more romantic than a good quality glass of wine in the morning. You can add strawberries in whipped cream and waffles with syrup to the breakfast table.
“All this combined with lots of conversation is bound to make the day extra special for your significant other. Alternative drink specials you could have are also tea or coffee,” he says.
“Breakfast dishes are quick and easy items to make as you still have the rest of the day to get to. You could also add a fruity salad combining apples, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, lettuce and peppers,” he says.
A sure thing to avoid when making a romantic meal is serving too much cream or too much butter or dishes that are rich in fat as they are not only unhealthy but they will result in a stuffed stomach which is not ideal for a romantic evening.