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Seven Aphrodisiac Spices

Seven Aphrodisiac Spices

The search for an effective aphrodisiac is an ancient, if not honourable, endeavour. It has led to wars (one reason for the battle over the spice routes to the East Indies was to gain control of the nutmeg trade, valued for its supposed, ahem, "warming" qualities), poisoning (ever heard of Spanish Fly? It's taken from the aptly named Blister Beetle, if used on a regular basis it causes kidney failure. Fun.), and has made some chemists very rich indeed with little blue pills.

Here is our guide to seven peaceful, safe, and inexpensive spices to heat things up this Valentine's Day.

  • Asafoetida: Also known as "Hing" (much easier to spell) ,this spice is made from the dried sap of the giant fennel, and is an integral ingredient in many lentil dishes. As well as having a fascinating history , asafoetida has a pungent (some would say foul) smell, and is said to have a scent reminiscent of the phenomenons of musk oil (from the secretions of the musk ox) and castoreum (from the beaver); it is claimed that these agents lend a salty, fragrant quality to perfume when suitably diluted. This blog isn't sure about any aphrodisiac that is likened to a "secretion", but we can swear to its delicious nature, if not its erotic potential.
  • Cardamon is popular in India and in Arabic cultures, and used to be employed by the Chinese court to give users a fragrant breath. It is sweet and wholesome, with lots of cineole that increases blood flow. Cardamon is used in many of our packs, but is particularly present in the Dhansak.
  • Cloves were held to be sacred to the goddess Aphrodite (namesake of the aphrodisiac), and is used in white witchcraft for spells involving love, beauty and sexuality. This is because it (and some other spices and herbs) contains eugenol; its smell is fragrant and aromatic, and has long been considered as enhancing sexual feelings and cure toothache (we are willing to attest to the latter, if not the first). Why not try the Ma's Paretal as it also has cloves and asafoetida!
  • Ginger contains gingerols, zingiberene that have make it a favoured seductive flavor in Asiatic and Arabic herbal traditions. In India it is used as a traditional treatment for impotence as it improves circulation to hands, feet and... other places. Pop some Geeta's Mango and Ginger Chutney on the side of that Ma's Paretal...
  • Nutmeg is a famous aphrodisiac, but it is not the only part of the plant to have these qualities; mace is the outer casing of the nutmeg and also contains myristicin and similar compounds that are related to mescalin. Although completely safe in small amounts, in large doses, nutmeg and mace can cause hallucinations and vomiting, so don't go overboard!
  • Pepper from India contains piperine, zinc, and magnesium, all of which promote the production of testosterone in the male of the species. According to Ayuvedic medicine, pepper and turmeric is a powerful combination for couples seeking to have children, although this just sounds like an excuse for a tasty snack! The Mulligatanni literally translates as "pepper soup", so it is just what the Ayuvedic doctor ordered...
  • Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and is known to reduce depression and promote the production of serotonin. This is partly because it contains picrocrocin, which has also be proven to increase libido. Try dissolving a small amount of saffron in milk and stirring it into cooked rice for a wonderful yellow and white rice dish.