Cuisine is on a high in India ! The Light is shining bright on Cuisine & Beverages and guests are happily partaking the pleasure, of the new culinary trends in India.
Over the last few months, several new restaurants have opened across India, indicating a burst in the pent-up energy of the F&B industry. Most of these outlets are fresh, with creative menus and well curated Cocktails. The Taj Hotels have also unveiled Loya, at The Taj Mahal Palace, New Delhi. It stands at the same place as the erstwhile Masala Art. Loya was launched a few weeks back & has been packing houses, ever since !
I finally had the opportunity to experience Loya a few days back, when I was over at the hotel for a Cigar evening ! Even though it was a Monday, the restaurant was full, with guests waiting at the entrance. We were escorted to the table by a smiling young lady and saw some familiar faces at the bar. It was a warm and welcoming evening & I was looking forward to it !
LOYA is a grand feast, which leads you on an immersive journey across the vivid north. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the flat terrain of Punjab, to snow-laden Kashmir, Loya is a confluence of flavour, passion and influence.
The Design Philosophy is inspired by the historical lifestyle of the northern sub-continent & a glorious past – grand arches, exquisite niches, intricate motifs, stone jalis and more, rendered perfectly with natural and aged textures and sandy beige backdrops. The entrance leads into a lounge, further opening up to Loya’s distinctive bar courtyard & is accentuated with a stunning waterfall, reminiscent of the natural springs in the Himalayas. The distinctive furniture as been crafted from logwood with copper embellishments. Vibrant drapes, vivid artworks, copper lanterns, intricate filigree ‘jaalis’, striking canopies and colourful awnings create a sense of nostalgia and are reminiscent of the erstwhile bustling bazaars of the North. The music is a spirited remix of popular folk music from the Indian Subcontinent and is joyful companion at the table.
According to the Chef at Loya, “Our search for the authentic and the long-preserved dishes resulted in a gathering of the North’s most cherished recipes. They spotlight the inherent uniqueness and theatrics of time-honoured cooking techniques of the North – the drama of “dhungar” or smoking, the aromatics of “baghar”, in which spices are tempered in hot oil, “dum”, the richness of slow-cooking and the energetic pounding of spices by hand. Loya offers the warmth and comfort of the past intersecting with the energy of today. This is the cuisine of the soldiers of the north, the native tribes, the fierce warriors – rather than the opulence of their kings. We go back to their culinary traditions, of processes, of cooking utensils, of ingredients and bring the everyday of this extraordinary region.” An effort has been made at Loya to preserve timeless techniques, undiscovered culinary traditions & heirloom ingredients are proudly showcased.
Loya serves cuisines from the heart of the northern sub-continent, inspired by ancient cooking techniques. The menu showcases authentic and long-preserved dishes, made with fresh, seasonal produce, farm-raised organic meats and in house spice blends, ground in-house. very care has been taken to keep this great culinary culture pristine and authentic.
Coming to the most interesting part, from my perspective, the Spirits and Cocktail plan. The bar is well appointed though the Cocktails have an edge ! ‘Five’ plays an innovative role and all things liquid are inspired by the same. The cocktail Menu is a truly heady journey, enabled by a selection of potent Indian spirits, with North’s botanical abundance, time-honoured techniques and heirloom ingredients.
According to the Head of Beverage, “Panjj or Paanch, meaning ‘five’, is our take on drinks inspired by the number ‘5’ and its gr eat significance across India. From the five rivers of the North to the five senses, the five elements of life, and closer home, in the five tenets of Loya’s cocktail philosophy — Harmony, Experimentation, Authenticity, Reverence, and The Spirit that come together to signify the HEART of the North.”
One needs to visit Loya at least 3 times before one can appreciate and experience most of the Menu…I intend to do just that !
SIGNATURES – FOOD
-DUMBA KADHAI: Kid goat meat with a fresh chilli, ginger and black pepper tempering
-TIMBRI JHINGA: Prawns in a shrub seed marinade with Pahadi bhang jeera chutney
-KANGRA KHODIYA GOSHT: Pahadi-special mutton curry with hand-ground, charred walnut ink
-MULTANI GOBHI: Special clay-wrapped roasted cauliflower, served with a coriander emulsion
-DAL JHAKIYA: Moong and arhar dal with a Pahadi jhakiya seed tempering
-PEPPAY WALE ALOO: Baby potatoes with crushed wadi and a fragrant chilli-hing-cumin-kalonji tempering
-SEPU WADI: Himachali split urad dal dumplings in a fresh tomato, yoghurt sauce
-BADANA PEARLS: Rabadi and saffron foam, sprinkled with pistachios and almonds
-GUD KE MAAN: Our Chef’s own grandmother’s recipe for Badam Kheer
SIGNATURES – COCKTAIL PROGRAM
-MASALA WHISKY: Bourbon whisky, house masala syrup, orange bitters, star anise smoke
-MULETHI: Mulethi-infused gin, citrus blend, sugar, honeycomb tuille
-LOYA MANHATTAN: Indri single malt, rye whisky, house amaro, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, maraschino cherry
-GULAB: Rose-cardamom vodka, fresh pineapple, rose-citrus mist
-VINTAGE PALOMA: Mezcal, Aperol, grapefruit juice, lime, vintage chai, grapefruit soda