Did I somehow forget to mention that our resort also extends to Om Beach, which some consider the most beautiful beach in India? That might have slipped my mind.
To be fair, getting to the beach does require walking through carefully trimmed forest paths down to the ocean. The beach is public, but the resort is fenced in and we have a special gate with a guard to keep out the riff-raff.
It is very pretty at dusk, and we walked there our first evening to admire the view. Then yesterday, our lunch was served down by the beach, in a lovely outdoor setting. They take great pains here to make everything artistic and perfect, and to meet your food requirements.
For example, I really dislike bell peppers, and can detect them in food three plates away. Having been told this, the chef here makes soups and sauces especially for me. It just makes me feel special. All our meals are so beautifully presented, even the meager fare that Don gets to eat.
A bit about the water here. All the water used at the resort comes from filtered rain water. You can actually turn on the faucet to brush your teeth and rinse off your toothbrush. Don’t ever take that luxury for granted. It’s so nice not to have to use bottled water for things like that.
The resort is not crowded at all. There are about ten people we see at meals and around the spa. Most must be New Yorkers, because we are all very careful not to get engaged with each other. That could end up spoiling the rest of the week. There are three single women who are not at all connected, two guys together, and two other ladies who seem to be friends. Surprisingly, one of the guys got into a yoga conversation with Don at the pool. He lives at 33rd and Park, so lots of gym experiences in common. (No names have been exchanged, so we’re off the hook for future conversations.) And then there are two French ladies, who argue with the dining room staff. But then, they are French, and it’s about food.
Don’s Treatment and Food Corner
Today’s two Ayurveda treatment sessions repeated yesterday’s pattern. In the morning – after yoga and breakfast – there was dhanyamladhara. This is the treatment using hot medicated water poured all over you in a rhythmic manner by two therapists. A third guy stands at the end of the table attending to the hot water and filling the pitchers in an equally rhythmic manner.
I was able to get a photo of the special table that is used, collecting the water and channeling down into a receptacle that the water attendant continually adds hot water as needed and scooping out the water to fill the pitchers. The beautiful brass pitchers are apparently of some traditional (and magical?) design.
I also got a photograph of the thong that I have to wear. That’s it stretched out on the treatment table. I think it’s going to far to call it a thong. A thong suggest something like a garment. What is worn for these treatments is more like a thin handkerchief on string. I believe that the same, um, “costume” is worn by women for their treatments. (Incidentally, only women attend women and only men attend men.)
My therapists offered to take my picture on the table. I demurred. This is a family blog.
In the afternoon, I had the hot herb-filled pouches beaten on me for an hour. This treatment also includes an aggressive face massage and scrub.
Now that I have experienced two full days of twice-daily total body scrubs of a spirited and complete (and I do mean complete) nature, I can report that this kind of attention delivers very shiny and soft skin. Will I have enough skin last another five days of these twice-daily scrubs? I guess one of the secrets to rejuvenation is indeed exfoliation. The exfoliation scrub that is used here – and absolutely necessary to remove the oil and herb dust – is made from ground lentils and turmeric along with some other unidentified magical herbs and spices (more than KFC?) mixed into a kind of slurry.
In between the two sessions, I did a yoga sleep meditation session just before lunch. This where you lie down on your back on the floor and allow your body to sleep while keeping your mind alert. (I think there was a little snoring going on, which misses the point of the alert mind.)
Earlier in the morning I took a cooking class in the resort’s kitchen. The photos here show this incredibly well-organized and impeccably clean operation. Look at how they have all the spices organized and the various basics of Indian cooking – minced garlic, onion, ginger, coconut, tomatoes – all prepared for fast access. What a dream it would be to have everything like that on hand. Check out how the chef there minces a tomato. First, he sliced it razor-thin and then turned the slices around and minced them. And he was fast. He asked me if I wanted to try. Like the offer of a photo on the treatment table, I demurred. My attempt to mince that tomato might have been more humiliating than a photo on the table – in the “costume.”
As we mentioned previously, the food served here is Indian spa cuisine. That means, in part, that there is no oil used. Neither is any ghee or milk products, sugar, or wheat flour. I don’t think there is rice flour used here either. Certainly there is no packaged anything in sight. Everything starts from the beginning.
Without the use of oil, which seems central in all other Indian cooking that I’ve been exposed to, there were a few differences in cooking technique. First, the heat wasn’t as high as I have experienced – except for popping the black mustard seeds. After the seeds popped, the temperature was turned down. Also, there was no use of garlic, ginger, or onion “paste.” Everything was minced (by hand!) instead and not fried for very long. Nothing burned despite being cooked directly in a dry, hot pan, but nothing really browned either.
We made two dishes. I didn’t catch the Indian names, but one featured eggplant in a curry sauced that was enriched by a thick cashew “milk,” which was made in a blender with just water. It was delicious. (I was permitted to taste a very small portion even though it was off my diet plan.)
The other dish was a coconut, cabbage and spinach dish. This, too, unusually delicate and mildly spiced. Interestingly, the whole spices, like cloves and cinnamon bark, which are usually fried briefly in oil before other ingredients are added were instead ground in a blender. Then the scraped coconut was briefly blended as well until those whole spices were incorporated. Those spices, therefore, weren’t really cooked. Instead, the coconut mixture was folded in with the finely chopped spinach and just heated through. I didn’t taste any rawness of the spices.
All in all, another very interesting take on approaching Indian cooking. The chef here claims that their approach takes Indian cooking back to the ancient beginning before oils and things distorted it. A gimmick? Whatever, It tastes good. And it certainly is lighter.