Since my son became old enough to leave alone I spend my annual holidays in India in order to escape the winter cold. I generally hang out in Goa but always take a holiday from Goa and go somewhere else.
This year I decided to treat myself to an Ayurvedic, yoga and well being break of which the retreat was named Swa Swara, which was located above the infamous Om beach in Gokarna which is in the state of Karnatika.
Wow this place was amazing. With Ayurvedic massages and various yoga classes including yoga nidra (the most relaxing yoga in the world), there was little apart from the rhythm of the rolling waves and the meditative hum of a birdsong to disturb inner explorations. Swa Swara actually interprets as your inner voice and is absolutely true to its names sake. Crafted in colours of the earth, and in harmony with the land this Ayurvedic retreat was designed for holistic and transformational experiences, a space where the wisdom of Ayurveda and yoga embrace you to rejuvenate the mind and body.
I can honestly say that the food that was served here was probably the most delicious I’ve ever had in my life. Head chef Joy advocates preferring to cook food that is grown in harmony with nature, ripened naturally on healthy soil and cooked with an air of mindfulness. The produce which is locally sourced consists of seasonal tropical fruits, vegetables and freshly caught fish which are complemented with juices and herbal teas. Swa Swara has many healing plants and herbs growing on is property which are implemented into the recipes that are prepared, ensuring that the food is not only the the most delicious in the world but also extremely therapeutic.
Swa Swara chef Joy
Following Swa Swara I then went back to Palolum in Goa where I practised my favourite yoga that of Parinama which I had been attending for over three years. Oshi and Magna are two of the best teachers that I’ve had, with every class being a welcoming challenge. I was also spoilt for choice here with more delicious healthy food. The Little World pancakes and fruit salads being amazingly colourful, nutritious and tasty and my favourite place for breakfast.
After a few weeks back in Goa my good friend Lucy came to visit me and we decided to go to Pondicherry which until 1954 was under French rule. Some people were still actually speaking French and English with French accents. Restaurants conjured up a variety of dishes embraced with a hint of French cuisine. Lots of street food, with one of my personal favourite dishes that I’d eaten being that of a Pani poori which is a common Indian street snack consisting of a round hollow filled with a mixture of chat massala, potato, onion or chickpeas, absolutely wonderful and costing of around fifteen rupees a helping which equates to about fifteen pence.
Of course I don’t want to leave out the deliciousness and health benefits of the common coconut. There are literally millions of them here. I tried to drink and eat at least one a day, I have to say these coconuts are my favourite food in the whole world and you can only get them to taste this good in India. Health benefits for coconuts include anti-oxidant properties, may help benefit type 2 diabetes, helps to support heart health, my reduce blood pressure and a delicious source of hydration. Costing around thirty rupees to drink and eat this fruit, in my opinion this is the most cost effective food there is.
Back to Goa and my friend Lucy has been offered a two night stay at a five star amazing retreat hotel in the hills of north Goa with a plus one in return for a written article promoting them on a London blogging site, and hey I got lucky I was the person invited. This place or retreat was also fantastic with everything laid on. My friend was also offered cocktail and dinner at the infamous award winning Pan Asian restaurant Spice Traders at the W hotel in Vagator. After checking our particular likes and intolerances the chef produced a selection of dishes all served with fantastic presentation. Course after course of mouth watering healthy foods kept arriving including finely sliced bell peppers with horseradish and herbs, terrines of salmon with sweet pomegranate, Japanese Enoki mushrooms infused with truffle oil, medallions of succulent sea-bass topped with pickled chillies, stir-fried tender asparagus with crunchy water chestnuts and cashews.
All in all this years annual trip to India was pretty amazing with all the yoga, foods and nourishments being a huge contributing factor. I came home feeling truly invigorated, healthy and with a strong urge to recreate some of these dishes that I had the fortune to have experienced myself. Watch This Space.