Covered in cashew

Covered in cashew

Flower and oil massages are so passé. Preeti Verma Lal tempts you with an unusual spa treatment in Goa, the cashew ritual.

 It is not often that I sit in a spa and run through the nutrients of all that will be rubbed, scrubbed and massaged into my skin. Now, who measures skin calories after all? Very rarely do I even bother about the calories that will get laden onto my body. Sitting on a plush chair in Park Hyatt Goa’s Sereno Spa, I did exactly that.

But this surely was no mundane spa-waiting moment. My long hair tied in a tight bun and my frame wrapped in a green robe, I was here for an unusual spa treatment, the only one of its kind in India. I was in for a cashew ritual where cashew (everything from the cashew tree) is used to scrub, massage and wrap one in during the spa treatment.

I know cashew apples are rich in Vitamin C (five times more than an orange), contain ample amount of tannins and minerals, and the cashew apple juice is great for sore throats and upset tummies. But the cashew nut is calorie-dense. So, now you know why I was counting skin calories.

I walk into the spa and notice a bowl of cashew kernel paste. “We begin with cashew kernel scrub,” spa therapist Dzuthoulu Nyekha uttered politely. The wet paste seemed innocuous, but I know cashew kernel is used in manufacturing varnishes and insecticides. Will it add a daub of varnish or will it kill all that ails the skin?

Dr Ratheesh Kumar clarified, “This scrub is not made of the hard outer shell of the raw cashew nut. The cashew kernel scrub is ideal for all skin types. Hence, better than the basic sugar or salt scrub, which can lead to roughness of the skin. Also, due to the abundance of unsaturated fats present in the nuts, it also moisturises the skin during the course of a scrub.”

The scrub is wiped with a warm towel. The next step is to slather the entire body with cashew nut paste, which is ground with fresh apricot for a smoother texture. To let the skin soak the goodness of cashew nuts, which is often called ‘Nature’s vitamin pill’ and is laden with protein and essential minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese), the body is wrapped in plastic.

Scientists also swear by the agreeable fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is the ideal ratio for optimal health. Cashew is also great for the hair, but no, no do not pour that gooey gunk on the scalp. Cashew is rich in copper, the mineral which helps your hair get that colour. For that raven black hair, you’ll have to eat cashews and not settle for a hair mask! At home, you can throw in a few almonds to make the perfect cashew mask.

The goodness of the cashew ritual lies in the cashew oil full-body massage after the body wrap is washed off in a steam bath. The cold-compressed virgin cashew oil contains Vitamin E and unsaturated fats in abundance that help restore the moisture and smoothness of the skin that becomes dull and damaged due to harsh weather conditions and age. Interestingly, the Vitamin E present in the oil also has anti-ageing properties.

Along with it, the cashew nut oil is the perfect antidote for cracked heels and fungal infections as it contains iron and phosphorus that help in healing.

At the spa, I thought this was enough cashew for a lifetime. I was scrubbed, wrapped and massaged with all things cashew. But soon I was to stand corrected. There was more cashew waiting for me. Not salted cashew nuts. Or sautéed cashew apple. Nor the fresh juice of the cashew apple, which is considered a delicacy in Brazil and the Caribbean. As I sat in the well-appointed lounge, there came cashew nectar in a shot glass. A sweet drink made solely of cashew nuts.

A drink so exquisite it could pass off as manna from heaven. That day, after the cashew ritual, there was so much cashew on the inside and outside of me that I could easily pass off as a cashew dressing in a salad or a cashew topping on the alle belle parfait. 

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