Samui Wining & Dining
Ideally Indian

When it comes to going Indian, Noori is still the tops!

26It was sometime in the middle of the 16th century that India was ‘discovered’. Naturally India, and its cuisine, had been sitting there all the time. But this was an era of excitement. This was when thousands of seafarers were busily shipping new plants, herbs and spices all over the world. And thus, for the first time, the so-called civilized world was able to enjoy the sublime flavours of the Indian continent. Since that time Indian food has spread across the globe and become one of the most popular cuisines anywhere – just ask DD Pandi!

     DD’s name is . . . just DD! He’s known to all by this name, and he’s the manager of the very successful Noori India restaurants in Chaweng. He is a little unusual, in the sense that not many such managers have degrees in Hotel Management and Tourism. Or, indeed, have lectured in the subject, as DD did at the School of Hotel Management and Catering Technology at Jaipur National University. That’s where he was until 2002, anyway, at which point he came to join his brother, Peter, on Samui.

     Peter had been working in Dubai but had already become interested in Thailand; perhaps it was something to do with his Thai fiancé? But that’s where he moved, to Samui, to establish one of the first Indian eateries on the island. Business boomed, his reputation grew, and it wasn’t very long before everything was getting too much for one person to handle. And so, after a little persuasion, DD moved to Samui to lend a hand. “I was thinking of being here for a few months,” he reflected with a smile, “and that was 10 years ago!”

     One of the first things that was needed was a bigger and better location. So the brothers made the move from a side street in the southern end of Chaweng Beach Road to a more spacious location, right across from the Chaweng Buri Resort and directly on the main beach road. “This certainly kept us busy for a while,” continued DD. “But I was really missing my students and the academic world. So we came to an agreement. I now take time off for two months every year and continue with my teaching. And then I come back refreshed and ready for another session in paradise! This arrangement allows me to indulge in my passion for teaching and renew my credentials, but being away also triggers new ideas about opportunities for Noori.”


We make popular Indian dishes that fulfil
everyone’s desires,” he beamed. “We’ll transport
you across the Indian Ocean to experience the
tastes of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Jaipur

      DD is a warm and gracious man with a vivacious personality. He’s known for his irrepressible sense of humour and many locals and visitors alike return to his restaurant because of this. (As one of them commented, “ . . . it’s the best quality teasing anywhere on the island!”) As you’ll have gathered already, DD is not only of an intellectual persuasion but also has enviable culinary qualifications to match. He’s worked at the 5-star Leela Kemensiki hotel in Mumbai and was also the General Manager of Desert Resort, Mandawa, at the time it was awarded ‘Best Hotel Award’ from the Indian Government. Channelling his passion for authenticity and experience into Noori India, DD is emphatic about using only top quality ingredients, and he educates his chefs in the importance of this, together with an expert methodology in the preparation of authentic North Indian food. “We make popular Indian dishes that fulfil everyone’s desires,” he beamed. “We’ll transport you across the Indian Ocean to experience the tastes of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Jaipur.”

      DD’s formula of quality ingredients, well-trained staff, innovative menus and attention to detail, together with a highly individual personal relationship with his customers, has kept Noori firmly at the top of an ever-growing list of Indian restaurants on Samui. The menu includes everyone’s favourite Indian dishes, together with several innovative Indian-Thai fusions. You’ll find over 20 different styles of freshly baked breads to select from and an imaginative presentation that emphasises clean textures and clear flavours. As in DD’s personally recommended ‘chicken dawa’, ‘lamb masala’ or ‘chicken tikka masala’. And you’ll get to enjoy all of this whilst comfortably seated beneath the exclusive Rajasthani art on the walls and lulled by the classical Indian music playing in the background. It’s also a great location for street-watching!

      After 12 years of success, a second branch of Noori India was opened in south Chaweng (also on Chaweng Beach Road, near Poppies Samui) a few years ago. When asked about the philosophy behind the internationally-acclaimed Noori India restaurants, DD immediately related this to ‘experience’: “Every dinner or event, no matter how small or large, is meticulously organised and carried out with a minimum of fuss.” This philosophy similarly applies when extending the Noori India ‘brand’ into Event Catering, which has now become another element in their portfolio. They’ve catered for over a dozen functions last year alone, including several very successful weddings; 170 guests at Anantara Bophut and 120 at Centara Grand Beach Resort, for instance.

       Never one to rest on his laurels, DD went on to open the Noori India Cooking Centre in January 2011; a purposeful environment where he and his team teach students how to peel, chop, crush, knead and stir exotic ingredients into delicious Indian meals, whilst also imparting all the secrets of crafting fine North Indian dishes.

       Although a committed workaholic, DD always seems calm and centred, no doubt because he organises himself to interleave his work with time to meditate, read and exercise. He’s a man who continues to grow in his field and remains passionate about good Indian food. And he’s always pleased to share his knowledge and skills, together with his anecdotes, with anyone who’s interested in authentic Indian cuisine. Which, of course, is what Noori India is all about!




Rob De Wet


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