What exactly is an aphrodisiac, aphrodisiac kya hai, aphrodisiac na enna, did you say? It’s any food that’s supposed to have a positive effect on your sex drive (no, it is not Viagra).We can see your eyes are gleaming at the thought of an instant love capsule. Whose wouldn’t? Whatever century you lived in, human beings have always dreamt of some love potion that would make you more confident, strong and, of course, instantly attractive.The famous author Isabel Allende once collected a series of aphrodisiac recipes for her wonderful book Aphrodite.Some of the many dishes she experimented with: figs with cheese, onion soup, Mexican-style chicken, guacamole and a dessert made of saffron and apples called Taj Mahal!She tells a story about what happened when she and her scientist partner tested these recipes on volunteers. Whichever volunteers knew they were eating an aphrodisiac started feeling sexy, telling hot stories and nibbling on the ears of whoever was sitting next to them at dinner. Other people who didn’t know they were eating an aphrodisiac ate happily, said thank you Isabel, and went home.So the question is: are aphrodisiacs for real or not? Some people believe that foods like these contain compounds that help get you in the mood. Others, that the mind’s anticipation of a sensual night along with foods that keep you going generate a sensory pleasure in your brain. Ancient wisdom says yes, and every culture has different foods that are considered aphrodisiacs.In the West, when you say aphrodisiac, most people think of strawberries, chocolate and champagne. (Though we are not in the West, we don’t mind these either). India has its own long tradition of sensual foods, and it turns out that many of the aphrodisiacs known in the ancient world were actually from India. The last chapter in the Kamasutra, India’s most famous handbook of love, is all about different plants and devices you can use to enhance your sex life.It might surprise (and delight) you that many commonly-used ancient Indian aphrodisiacs are things you could find in your kitchen.We asked Sandhya Mulchandani, a scholar of erotica in Indian culture and the author of Kama Sutra for Women, to decipher the instructions. She said the Kamasutra has some ground rules.1.Don't try an aphrodisiac if- it seems dubious- you suspect it can cause problems- it is obtained from killing an animal.According to the Kamasutra, this can put you in touch with negative or impure things. But practically too, we think this is good advice. So, if your roommate’s cousin gives you something she swears is organic jadi booti that you’ve never heard of, accompanied by a magic story, or your Hong Kong chacha gives you powdered rhino horn to improve your sex life, politely say no. You and the rhino don’t need that.2.Go by the spirit of the Kamasutra’s advice, not the letter. Especially since, as Sandhya Mulchandani says, “some of the aphrodisiacs mentioned are really weird.” The foods that the Kamasutra recommends were to be incorporated into your routine diet as part of a generally healthy sex life – magic pills an immediate fix. They were foods that can alter the various balances in the body to increase vitality, serenity, heighten or lower temperature and sensitivity, or alter the tastes of sexual fluids. Bole toh, you follow this diet, you feel more energetic, happy, sensitive and open to different sexual activities. Sounds good?Ok then, let’s go check out those ancient Indian aphrodisiacs in your kitchen then! Piyo GlassfulAccording to the Kamasutra, good old-fashioned milk and sugar are the champions of all aphrodisiacs (which makes suhaag raat scenes in Bollywood movies fully sanskaari). Milk was thought of as being able to dramatically increase strength and sexual vigour, and almost all of the aphrodisiac recipes in the Kamasutra are based on milk, sugar, and honey. Even today, in parts of India, brides give bridegrooms a mixture of milk and almonds on the suhaag raat, to help with his performance. Then there are fundas from the vajikarana (from vaji, or stallion) branch of Ayurveda, which had a very relaxed attitude to aphrodisiacs. According to the vajikarana, anything made from milk, honey, sugar, and sesame was an effective aphrodisiac, and panchamritam, a mixture made of milk, yoghurt, sugar, honey, and butter, was supposed to increase fertility and stamina (isn’t that what they give us in temples??). All milk-based potions are quite sweet and simple, except when they are not: like one tip in the Kamasutra which says: “Drink milk with sugar/ Or better still, testicles of a goat or ram/ Boiled in it.” It’s ok, sir, we’ll manage with mental power only. SaffronIf you think we Indians are obsessed with milk, let us introduce you to Egypt’s famed queen Cleopatra who used to bathe in milk. She mixed it with kesar (saffron) because the Egyptians believed it had aphrodisiac properties. The Kamasutra shares Cleopatra’s belief in saffron. In addition to having a pleasing smell, saffron taken in hot milk is supposed to have deeply calming and soothing effects on both men and women, leading to a serene environment.Scientific experiments have also shown that saffron can increase sperm motility in men, which promotes male fertility.
Is There An Ancient Indian Aphrodisiac in Your Samsung Refrigerator?
The last chapter in the Kamasutra is all about different plants and devices you can use to enhance your sex life.
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