Loya: The North Indian Culinary Odyssey At The Taj West End, Bengaluru

When it comes to North Indian cuisine, Punjabi dishes often take center stage, enchanting our taste buds with their rich flavors and aromatic spices. However, there's a hidden gem in Bengaluru that invites you on a culinary journey beyond Punjabi cuisine. Enter Loya, a restaurant that promises to be a doorway to the diverse and exciting cuisine of North India.

September 20, 2023: As you step into Loya, you’ll be greeted by rustic yet chic decor. The colorful cushions adorned with vibrant red, yellow, and green stripes, reminiscent of the Indian tapestry, provide a warm and inviting atmosphere. The furniture is inspired by traditional Indian khatia and peeda, adding an authentic touch to the dining experience. Antique pahadi vessels grace the counters, accentuated by stone pillars that evoke the rugged terrain of the mountains.

A name rooted in tradition

The name ‘Loya’ draws inspiration from the Pashtun term ‘loya jirga,’ which signifies a grand council of tribal leaders coming together for a sumptuous feast. This sense of communal gathering and celebration is beautifully reflected in the restaurant’s ambiance, creating a feeling of belonging and unity through local food and captivating conversations.

Copper lanterns, adorned with philgiri art, hang from the ceiling, transporting diners to the homes of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. In the indoor seating area, monitors on the walls display visuals of the flora and fauna of the regions, immersing guests in the natural beauty of North India. Even the cutlery, meticulously crafted from steel and brass, showcases local artworks, enhancing the entire experience.

Culinary artistry rooted in tradition

Loya’s culinary art is deeply rooted in the traditions of indigenous tribes residing in the mountainous regions, known as the pahadi ilaaka. Beyond their commitment to sourcing fresh, local ingredients, Loya excels in its dedication to authentic cooking techniques.

The kitchen skillfully employs age-old methods such as dhungar for smoking, baghar for hot oil tempering, sigdi for traditional coal cooking (uple), and the slow-cooking finesse of dum. Traditional clay pots and iron kadhais are used to cook, infusing each dish with earthy flavors and colors that are emblematic of the region.

A diverse and authentic menu

The food menu at Loya, carefully crafted by Chef Rajesh Wadhwa, is extensive and a tribute to the research conducted by Loya’s team during their culinary expedition through the Northern Indian mountains. Many dishes feature indigenous ingredients such as timru fruit (Indian prickly ash), jhakhiya seeds (wild mustard seeds), kaala neembu (preserved lemon), preserved black garlic, bhoot jolokia (ghost pepper), and patthar ke phool (stone flower).

Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat lover, Loya offers a wide choice. Standout dishes include the kachori chaat, a delightful blend of dried green pea vatana and anardana with saunth chutney. For a unique experience, try the kathal baingan bharta, where smoked jackfruit and brinjal are prepared using the dhungar technique over Himachal Pradesh’s applewood chips, paired with missi roti.

Meat lovers can savor the Kangra khodiya gosht, a pahadi-special mutton curry infused with hand-ground charred walnut ink, giving it a unique black hue. Another must-try is the tender minced meat chapli kebab served on flaked paratha. Seafood lovers won’t want to miss the timbri jhinga, marinated with shrub seeds and served with bhang jeera chutney. To conclude your meal on a sweet note, indulge in Gud-ke-maan, a delightful almond kheer straight from the chef’s grandma’s cookbook.

An ambiance that transports you

Loya boasts diverse spaces, including a chic champagne lounge, a stylish bar area, and a charming Qissa lounge. The Qissa lounge, in particular, exudes a nostalgic aura, reminiscent of summer vacation memories in grandma’s backyard. A swing gently sways from the branches of a tamarind tree, and outdoor seating is arranged with large brass plates transformed into tables, creating a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern comfort.

Innovative and authentic drinks

Loya’s bar menu, known as Loya Paanch, focuses on using local ingredients and spirits from the North. Divided into five sections: Harmony, Experience, Authentic, Revered, and The Spirit, each offers a desi take on classic cocktails.

The influence of New York-based mixologist Hemant Pathak is evident in Loya’s cocktail menu. One standout creation, The Masala Whiskey, inspired by the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, has made its way from Junoon, New York to Loya, Bengaluru. It’s a must-try, featuring special homemade masala syrup, whiskey, bitters, and a touch of star anise smoke.

Another delightful creation is the Mulethi cocktail, where liquorice-infused gin, homemade citrus blend, and sugar harmonize perfectly under a captivating black honeycomb tuille. It’s a beautifully balanced drink that allows the gin’s botanical flavors to shine alongside the licorice.
Loya’s bar program is truly exceptional, offering an array of well-balanced cocktails in the pub capital of the country. So, pull up a high chair at the bar, trust your bartender, and savor your Himalayan mule as the nearby fountain’s soothing flow completes the experience. At Loya, it’s all about a “mountain” of flavor in an oasis of ambiance.

Loya offers diners an experience of rich, diverse culinary traditions of North India. With its adherence to authenticity, dedication to indigenous ingredients, and innovative cocktails. It’s a culinary journey that transports you from the Gangetic plains to the Himalayan foothills, all within the heart of Bengaluru. Visit Loya and get transported on an unforgettable North Indian food odyssey today.

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