Last-minute Valentine’s Day dinner ideas to make for the one you love

Heart-throb butter chicken curry. Picture: Supplied

Heart-throb butter chicken curry. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 13, 2024


“How do I love you?" If you are pondering that question, you only have a few hours left to count the ways.

Surprise your valentine with one of these recipes that can be made easily and speedily while conveying a thoughtful sentiment.

Heart-throb butter chicken curry. Picture: Supplied

Heart-throb butter chicken curry


For the chicken marinade

350g or 2 skinless chicken breast filletS cut into 2cm cubes

½ cup plain yoghurt

½ tsp garlic crushed

½ tsp ginger crushed

1 tsp ground cumin or jeera

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp fine salt

25g finely chopped coriander

For the sauce

1 tbs sunflower oil

1 tbs butter ghee (clarified butter)

1 medium onion diced

½ tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or ginger paste

2 tsp garlic finely chopped or garlic paste

20g finely chopped coriander leaves

½ cup tomato purée or 4 tbs tomato paste

½ tsp ground cumin or jeera

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder (adjust to your taste preference)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp kasoori methi leaves (dried fenugreek)

1 cup heavy cream or double cream plain yoghurt

1 tbs sugar or honey

Salt to taste


In a bowl, combine chicken with all the ingredients for the chicken marinade and allow it to marinade for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a large frying pan or pot over medium heat, when sizzling, add the chicken pieces in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, grill the chicken until brown, and set aside (chicken will finish cooking in the sauce).

Heat oil and butter or ghee in the same pan, sauté onions until golden brown while scraping up any browned bits stuck in the pan.

Add garlic, ginger, ground cumin, coriander, and chilli powder, and cook for about 20 seconds until fragrant while stirring.

Add tomato purée or paste and salt, and let it simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes until sauce thickens.

Remove from heat, pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth (you may need to add some water to help it blend).

Pour the blended sauce back into the pan, add in the cream or yoghurt, kasoori methi leaves and the chicken cubes with the juices into the pan, and cook for 10 – 15 mins over medium heat until the sauce is thick.

Taste for salt, garnish with fresh coriander, and a teaspoon of plain yoghurt on top, and serve with home-made naan bread, basmati rice, or roti.

Recipe by chef Athizaam Rassool from The Edward Hotel.

Banhoek chilli oil Valentine’s Day oyster dressing. Picture: Supplied

Banhoek chilli oil Valentine’s Day oyster dressing

Serves: 4


12 oysters (shucked)

1 garlic clove (minced)

Thumb-sized ginger (grated and juice squeezed out)

2 tbs mirin

2 tbs soya sauce

5ml Banhoek chilli oil

2 tsp sesame seed oil

1 red chilli (thinly sliced)

Chives (finely chopped)


In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients.

When everything is well mixed, arrange the fresh oysters on a plate and spoon the sauce over.

Scatter the chopped chives and chillies over.

Enjoy immediately!

Pepper-crusted ostrich fillet. Picture: Supplied

Pepper-crusted ostrich fillet


250g ostrich fillet

Mashed potato

80g sautéed spinach

50g roasted baby onions

50g sautéed button mushroom

Chef’s red wine jus

2 tsp olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

175ml port

175ml red wine

1 rosemary sprig

1 bay leaf

800ml beef stock

2 tbs butter

Pinch of sugar


Pepper crust the ostrich fillet and cook to the desired temperature, best served medium rare as ostrich is a lean meat.

Place a basting spoon of mashed potato on the centre of the plate, place sautéed spinach on top.

Slice ostrich fillet and place next to mash then add sautéed pearl onions and mushrooms, drizzle with chef jus.

Chef’s red wine jus

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the shallots until golden and caramelised, about 10 minutes.

Add the port, wine, and herbs, and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.

Pour in the stock and cook until reduced by half again, then strain, discarding the shallots and herbs.

Transfer the sauce to a new pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then season to taste.

Recipe by chef Angelique Fassom from Southern Sun in Rosebank.