Samui Wining & Dining
Currying Flavour
At Noori India, not only can you eat great Indian cuisine
but you can learn how to cook it too.


Currying FlavourWalking into a good Indian restaurant is always a joy for the senses. There’s the inimitable smell of the spices. There’s the familiar décor with its framed pictures of the homeland. There’s the music, Indian classical playing softly in the background. And, if it’s a really good restaurant, there’ll also be a smiling owner ready to welcome you and go through the dishes on the menu you might not be sure of.


And although DD Pandey is that man, he takes things even further. General Manager of the acclaimed Noori India restaurant (there are two branches on Chaweng Beach Road but DD spends most of his time at the one that’s just 100 metres north of McDonald’s and Starbuck’s), DD decided earlier this year to open up Noori’s very own Indian cooking school, to show customers and the curious how to make authentic Indian food. And since then, he’s already had novice chefs from the Indian food-loving countries of England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia. But recently, he’s been seeing a new trend emerge, with several Russian customers also wanting to learn the difference between madras and masala.


I was surprised to see the large number of Russian customers wanting to learn Indian cooking, as well as the greater numbers of Russians coming into the restaurant,” DD says. “That’s been quite recent – before, my customers were always from the same countries, especially England and Australia. I also get Thai women coming in who are married to Western men and who want to learn to cook the food their partners like best.”


But the type of customers joining the cooking school will normally correlate with the customers at the restaurant, he adds, as the idea for the school initially came from regular customers to Noori India over the years asking DD if he would be able to teach them how to make their favourite dishes. So if Indian food is becoming popular in Russia, and Russian people on Samui come to Noori India for dinner, then it’s likely that the Noori India Cooking Center will continue seeing a rise in Russian clientele.


It’s on the very southern section of Chaweng Beach Road that bends back up towards the main ring-road and offers two classes a day, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, respectively. There’s a choice of five different menus options: two vegetarian, one fish, one prawns and one chicken, covering Indian classics like papad, chicken masala, chapatti, raita and saag paneer. And as there’s no point cooking these dishes without knowing the basics of how they’re flavoured, each class starts with DD presenting three different trays of spices and explaining their use in Indian food. He encourages students to touch and try most of the spices during the demonstration, so you can finally put a name to the spice whose taste you’re already familiar with.


You’ll be shown how to properly chop vegetables, given the proper way to roll dough so that it’s even, told the exact order to add spices to a dish and taught how to twist a chapatti in the pan so that it rises up as fluffily as it should. If you’re making a dish like masala, DD will check your tastes and tolerance for spicy food so he knows how mild or hot to help you make it – Indian food doesn’t have to set your mouth on fire. And, of course, once the class is over, you get to eat your session’s work, inviting a friend or partner along to share the results, if you wish.


Classes cost 1,800 baht per person, including all ingredients, and you’ll be presented with a Noori India Samui apron and a certificate of achievement for your kitchen wall. And, as DD says, the class will provide memories and skills to take home long after the tan has faded.


Lisa Cunningham


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