Samui Wining & Dining
Incredible India
Not only is the Indian cuisine incredible at Noori India, but its General Manager, D.D. Pandey, is too!

 

Page7Feb

“Samui is full of accidental entrepreneurs.” Noori India’s General Manager, D. D. Pandey, declares. And he’s dead right. D. D. himself is educated to MA level, has seven languages under his belt, and is highly trained in hotel management. He’s also worked in hospitality for many big-name hotels in his time. And yet, here he is on Samui.

     Five years ago, after 18 years of the corporate grind, D. D. made the move and hasn’t looked back since. His naturally philosophical mind is now accentuated by chilled-out island charm. If you go to Noori India you’ll probably meet D. D., and the chances are that you’ll love him too. His personal touch is visible in all aspects of the business – from the décor and lovingly prepared food in the restaurant, to the highly personalised cooking classes at the Noori India Cooking Center – so you’ll immediately feel at home. There are two Noori India restaurants, and both are on Chaweng Beach Road; one opposite Chaweng Buri Resort (where D.D. spends most of his time) and the other just along from Poppies Resort. So, wherever you are in Chaweng, you can easily get your Indian food fix.

     If you walk past the restaurants, the mouth-watering aroma wafting into the street is enough to lure you in like a moth to a flame. And once you’re in, you won’t be let down. The starters come piping hot and freshly prepared. Like the vegetarian samosas, for example, which arrive atop a bed of julienned lettuce and alongside homemade mint and mango chutneys to really punch up the flavour. And when you order, the dishes don’t take long to come out as D. D. doesn’t like to keep people waiting. “When people are sitting with nothing they are dissatisfied,” he explains.

      After subduing the rumbling in your belly with those delectable small bites, you move on to the mains. And they’ve got all the usual favourites – chicken tikka masala, butter chicken and chicken vindaloo – alongside many others to keep you coming back for more. Each dish incorporates the very best authentic Indian spices and comes adorned with finely chopped herbs for that special touch. As an accompaniment, the garlic naan certainly doesn’t disappoint. It comes smeared with a lick of juicy butter and decked out with generous chunks of diced garlic pieces scattered alongside freshly chopped herbs. The bread is crispy around the edges and yet wonderfully doughy in the centre. It is truly delicious.

     Whilst many think of Indian food as spicy, and some so much so that they’re afraid to try it, it’s actually very varied and also caters for those shy of spices. Meat cooked in the tandoor is perfect for those wary of spice-laden sauces and is very healthy too! Take, for example, Noori India’s ‘harabhara kebab’, which is a marinated, boneless chicken dish, mixed with spinach and coriander and cooked in the oven. Many vegetarian dishes are also perfect for those who have an aversion to spice as they’re often quite mild. The ‘papad masala’ here is the perfect illustration of such a dish, comprised of finely chopped cucumber, tomato, onion and coriander finished with a squeeze of lemon juice to really lift out the flavours. It’s then served on top of a roasted papad – that’s a poppadom to you and me.

      Cooking classes at the Noori India Cooking Center are also something to remember. D. D. will personally take you on a journey through Indian cuisine. His vast wealth of knowledge is complemented by his personal wit and cool charm. And in this area, too, his passion shines through, “Making good food takes time. I could take two hours just to explain one sauce!” But, alas, time constraints prevail and the classes, where you will make five dishes, are perfectly pitched at three hours long. They are held daily, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and then again from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, and are very reasonably priced at 1,800 baht per person. You’ll have a choice of five menus from the ‘cookbook menu’ – including vegetarian and vegan ones – to ensure a personalised class. And, as he says on his brochure, “The skills you’ll be taught will still be in place long after the tan has faded!” You can come alone, bring a partner, or go with a group of friends. And if one class really whets your appetite for learning more about the art of Indian cooking, then grab another session and fine-tune your culinary expertise. You’ll even get 10% off second and subsequent classes.

     The prices in Noori India’s restaurant are very reasonable too, and that’s another part of D. D.’s philosophy. “It’s not just about making money. It’s about passion,” he says. And if your plans for dining are of a grander scale than dinner for two (e.g. for a party or wedding), Noori India is a well-adept caterer and has provided the food for many a 5-star hotel bash. Alternatively, if you were thinking of serving some tasty Indian cuisine at an intimate dinner party at your house, that can also be arranged.

      The Indian Tourist Board’s current slogan is ‘Incredible India’. And from incredible India comes incredible Indian food and, of course, incredible characters, like D. D. and previous diners, such as the famous Indian wicket-keeper and batsman, Parthiv Patel, who recently dined at Noori India with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

Christina Wylie

 


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