It’s not like any of us needs an excuse to eat hearty and heavy, but if you do, cooking for your loved one(s) on V day is a good one.

Here are three tried and tested recipes that taste amazing and are at an intermediate level of cooking. They are a mix of different recipes: A Paula Deen and Yossy Arefi mix of a decadent and super easy lava cake, a Mark Bittman and Tyler Florence potato gratin (fancy name for potatoes with cream) and a variation of Melissa Clark’s Chicken Parmesan with Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce (All of these chefs are brilliant but need a bit of a variation to meet Pakistani palette standards.

Chocolate Lava Cake


250 grams of cooking chocolate (Dairy Milk and others work too but don’t put in too much sugar then)

10 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

1 cup icing sugar

3 large eggs

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat oven to 220 degrees C.

Grease Four baking/ custard cups with butter (Muffin tins also work).

Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave/double boiler/low heat stove top. If you choose to microwave, don’t micro them in one go but stir it after every 30-40 seconds. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth and stir in the vanilla extract. Divide the batter evenly among the cup and place them in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Don’t be worried about taking it out too early. It tastes so good, it wouldn’t matter if it has ‘too much lava’. But definitely don’t take it out too late. It’s not a lava at all if it takes too long in the oven. Let it cool slightly and then run a knife around the edges to loosen and take out, upside down, onto plates.

Potato Gratin

8 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced paper-thin

4 tablespoons butter semi melted

2 cups heavy cream

15 garlic cloves, split in half

Italian herbs seasoning

3 tablespoons chopped green onions, plus more for garnish

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (if you cant find this, try a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 195 degrees C. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, and toss around to make sure all are coated. Season with salt and pepper. Put the potato mixture into a baking dish, flatten it out with a spatula, and bake for 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the gratin is bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with spring onions.

Chicken Parmesan

1 kg boneless chicken cut into strips

1/2 cup flour

3 eggs

3 cups Panko breadcrumbs

12 large tomatoes

5 tablespoons tomato paste

6 tablespoons of butter

One large onion

12 garlic cloves (peeled)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (if you cant find this, try a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying


Heat oven to 204 degrees.

First make the tomato sauce. Cut the tomatoes into four pieces and cut the big onion in two halves. Place the tomatoes and onion and garlic on a deep frying pan with the butter. Add the tomato paste and let it cook on very low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper

Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow bowls. Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Dip a piece in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat until all the meat is coated.

Fill a large frying pan with oil Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry cutlets in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the cheese over sauce. Place half of the cutlets over the cheese. Top with half the remaining sauce and repeat the process. The final top layer should be of the cheese.

Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden which is about 40 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.