Samui Wining & Dining
Ideally Indian

When D.D. Pandey came to Samui and took over running his brother’s restaurant
– Noori India – big things started to happen.

Ideally IndianBollywood has spurred a spiraling worldwide interest in Indian culture along with a growing fascination in Indian food. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bollywood-style stage musical, Bombay Dreams, was a massive hit and international blockbuster films, such as Slum Dog Millionaire, Bend It Like Beckham and Monsoon Wedding, have brought in legions of new Indian food fans hungering for authentic Indian dishes and ambience. But way back in 1998, before any of this silver screen-induced euphoria, Amit Pandey (commonly known as Peter) came from Mumbai to establish Noori India restaurant on Samui.


Peter spent over 12 years in Mumbai as a talented chef but after meeting his soon-to-be Thai wife, he decided to make the leap to move to Samui and open one of the first Indian restaurants, basing the menu on authentic high quality North Indian food  and selling it at reasonable prices. Within a few years, Peter turned to his brother, D.D. Pandey, in Mumbai to join him on Samui and run Noori India. However, at the time D.D., with 20 years of success in the hospitality industry and teaching hotel management in Mumbai, was far too busy. But following the tragic events of ‘9/11’, D.D.’s world, along with everyone else’s, changed.


D.D. was now ready for new challenges and a new setting and moved to Samui in 2002 to run Noori India restaurant. As the restaurant’s popularity grew the brothers decided to move from a side street in the southern end of Chaweng Beach Road to a more spacious location in busier mid-Chaweng, across from the Chaweng Buri hotel (its current location) and on Chaweng Beach Road itself.


And although happy on Samui, D.D. missed teaching in Mumbai, so the brothers worked out a new schedule which allowed him to return to India to teach for two months every year. Both brothers were more than satisfied with the results and D.D. says he returns to Samui refreshed and excited to start the next 10 months of running the business, explaining, “My schedule allows me to indulge in my passion for teaching and renew my credentials whilst allowing me time to evaluate new opportunities for Noori.”


A warm and gracious man with a vivacious personality and a vast knowledge of Indian cuisine, D.D. holds a hotel management degree from Jodhpur University and has a 5-star 20-year history in the hospitality industry that includes working at the Hotel Leela Kemensiki and being the general manager of Hotel Desert Resort, Mandawa, Rajasthan, at the time the hotel achieved the ‘Best Hotel Award’ from the Indian Government. Channeling his passion for authenticity and experience into Noori India, D.D. is emphatic about using top quality ingredients and educates his chefs in the importance of fresh ingredients and expert methodology in preparing authentic North Indian food that wows customers, noting, “We prepare popular Indian dishes that fill all our customers’ desires when it comes to Indian food. We virtually transport you across the Indian Ocean to feel and experience the taste of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Jaipur.”


D.D.’s formula of quality ingredients, personal management style, fully-trained staff, innovative menus and attention to detail has kept Noori firmly at the top of an ever-growing list of Indian restaurants on Samui. The menu includes everyone’s favorite Indian foods and an interesting range of classic dishes along with some innovative Indian-Thai fusions. There’re over 20 different styles of freshly baked breads to select from and an imaginative menu that emphasizes clean textures and clear flavours, such as D.D.’s personally recommended ‘chicken dawa’, ‘lamb masala’ and ‘chicken tikka masala’. And you get to enjoy all this whilst comfortably seated viewing exclusive paintings of Rajasthan art on the walls and hearing classical Indian music playing in the background. It’s also a great place for watching the throngs of passers-by.


Now in its 12th year of operation, a second Noori India restaurant outlet was opened in south Chaweng (also on Chaweng Beach Road, and near Poppies Resort) a few years ago. When asked about his philosophy behind the internationally-acclaimed Noori India restaurants, D.D. said it’s based on years of experience, stating: “Every dinner or event, no matter how small or large, is meticulously organised and carried out with a minimum of fuss.”


D.D.’s philosophy carried through when extending the Noori India restaurant brand into ‘Event Catering’, which soon becoming a popular element in the Noori India portfolio. They catered over a dozen events this year alone, including extremely successful weddings at Anantara Bophut (for 170 guests) and at Centara Grand Beach Resort (for 120) using Noori India’s customized menus.


Never one to rest on his laurels, D.D. opened the Noori India Samui Cooking Center in January this year; a wonderful place where he and his team teach his students how to peel, chop, crush, knead and stir exotic ingredients into delicious Indian meals whilst learning the inner secrets of making fine North Indian dishes.


An incredibly busy man, D.D. manages to stay calm and centered through skillful organising that helps him schedule his work with time remaining to meditate, read and exercise. D.D. is a man who continues to grow in his field and remains passionate about good Indian food and is always excited to share his knowledge and restaurant to anyone who’s interested in authentic Indian cuisine.


Geri Henderson


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