Loya Restaurant at Taj Palace New Delhi is not only a culinary odyssey through north India, but also a visual and creative one.
Venture beyond the imposing rose-gold entry doors of Loya, at The Taj Palace, New Delhi, and embark on an exhilarating journey through the vibrant tapestry of North Indian cuisine.
The intricate and imposing interiors set the stage for an unforgettable dining experience, and a fantastic night out – and some memorable instargam moments. The interiors are creative and simply stunning.
The restaurant’s name Loya, derived from a Pashtun word meaning “a gathering for a feast,” perfectly captures the essence of this culinary sanctuary. There are huge floor to ceiling glass windows where diners can watch the chefs creating their wonders all night – it is entertaining and insightful.
Here, the focus lies in rediscovering the authentic flavors of North India, venturing beyond the ubiquitous Butter Chicken to showcase the region’s diverse and dynamic culinary landscape – and there is plenty on offer that is not curry.
According to the Taj Palace Hotel’s dossier, four years of meticulous research, culinary innovation, and meticulous dish crafting have culminated in this exquisite restaurant.
Every aspect, from the delectable cuisine and handcrafted beverages to the tiniest details of the décor, reflects this dedication to authenticity and refined elegance.
A Culinary Symphony Rooted in Tradition
Loya’s culinary philosophy is deeply rooted in the concept of “Paanch” (five), inspired by the five life-giving rivers of Punjab and the five elements that govern the universe.
This spiritual philosophy is reflected in the restaurant’s cooking techniques, which employ five time-honored methods passed down through generations:
- Dungaar: The art of smoking, imparting a unique smokiness to dishes, evoking the warmth of traditional village hearths
- Dum: The art of slow-cooking, resulting in tender, melt-in-your-mouth meats, infused with rich flavors and aromas
- Baghar: Tempering spices in hot oil, releasing their fragrant essences and enhancing flavors, a culinary dance that awakens the senses
- Sigdi: Cooking over a coal fire, imparting a distinct rustic flavor, reminiscent of open-air village cooking
- Hand-pounding masalas with a sil-batta: Ensuring the freshest, most flavorful spices, a testament to time-honored culinary traditions
A Culinary Oasis Awaits
Chef Rajesh Wadhwa and Chef Gagan Sikka, the culinary masterminds behind Loya, invite guests on an immersive culinary journey through the heart of North India.
The kitchen, a symphony of activity and beauty, is where culinary magic unfolds. Patterned rolling pins, reminiscent of Chef Rajesh’s grandmother’s dessert creations, clay pots, iron kadhais, and elegant glass domes housing delectable bhartas – each piece of kitchen equipment tells a story and serves a purpose, a testament to the heritage and passion that infuse every dish.
A Culinary Adventure Begins
Loya can be enjoyed in a number of ways – even a light meal of cocktails and appetisers at the gorgeous bar is heavenly and sufficient, but the culinary journey commences with the Pella Swaad, an appetiser course that tantalises the palate with its refreshing tanginess and symphony of flavours.
The cocktails are offer are fresh and fabulous – and some come with the Loya logo on top, which is fabulous branding and again, great for instagram. There are bottled wines and several wines by the glass.
The Timbri Jhinga, marinated prawns served with a pahadi bhang jeera chutney, awakens the senses with its zesty notes and light combination of fresh flavours. This is not the typical array of Indian flavours and textures.
The Paneer Teen Mirch, rich and dense, boasts a symphony of flavors from three types of chillis: crushed kali mirch, fresh achari red, and green chillis, a culinary masterpiece that ignites the taste buds.
Next arrives the Ghost Chilli Murg Tikka, a masterpiece of smoke infusion.
The sweltering heat of the Bhut Jolokia is expertly tempered by a smoked carrot-coconut purée, creating an explosion of flavors that leave you craving more, a testament to the chefs’ mastery of balance and complexity.
As you savor each dish, the restaurant’s ambiance transports you to the heart of North India. The décor, inspired by the region’s rich cultural heritage, features five distinct patterns on the walls, blending Rajasthani jharokhas, stone jalis, and Mughal ornamentation in earthy sandstone textures, creating a sense of grandeur and authenticity.
Dessert is exceptional – I loved the set of delicious four kaffir flavoured pastel ice creams served on sticks stuck into a timber plank. Innovative. There is also a tin “trunki” of Indian sweets which is again amazingly unique.
Seating is varied and most comes courtesy of chairs inspired by the rope khatiyas found in rural parts of North India, while rustic-chic cutlery in kansa and clay adds to the overall vibe, a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.
Striped tapestries adorning the ceilings evoke memories of old bazaars, while large hand-carved vases and pots ground the space, adding an element of rustic charm. I loved the brass gold plates and rainbow striped napkins – fresh, elegant, Indian in style and unique.
Ornate brass lanterns cast a warm glow, and paintings on the walls depict medieval marketplaces, further reinforcing the idea of age-old community celebrations, transporting you to the vibrant heart of North India.
Loya is more than just a restaurant; it’s a culinary pilgrimage to the heart of North India. With its meticulous attention to detail, authentic flavors, and stunning ambiance, Loya is a must-visit for any discerning gastronome seeking an unforgettable culinary odyssey.