Soneva Kiri, our resort on the island of Koh Kood in Thailand, recently announced its newest dining experience, Down to Earth by Chef Umed. Located on the beach beside the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand, this toes-in-the-sand restaurant is helmed by Chef Umed Singh, Soneva Kiri’s Chef De Cuisine. On the set menu, diners will find dishes whose origins can trace their heritage back through time to the days of the Indian Maharajahs, Maharanis, and their lavish palaces.
The menu consists of six courses, taking diners through a selection of salads, starters, and naan accompanied with an assortment of dips. The main course arrives on a wooden platter heavily laden with chicken shish kebab, duck koobideh, lamb kebab, and Goan pork sausages. This is complemented by a vegetable biryani, as well as roast and smoked vegetables. The journey along the Northern Frontier ends with a traditional Indian dessert, and is priced at THB 5,272 nett per person. Vegetarian and plant-based set menus are also available.
Taking its inspiration from the Northern Frontier region, each dish uses a simple preparation style, with the meat, seafood and vegetables lightly marinated and cooked in a tandoor so they remain tender and succulent. Spices are used sparingly, so as not to overpower the natural flavours of the fresh ingredients. The tandoor and kebabs rely on different cooking variations that bring out distinct flavours and aromas. Many of the dishes in this cuisine have a smoky flavour that comes from using the clay tandoor, and the rich, thick gravies are a result of using dried fruits, cream and saffron. The hints of Middle Eastern influences from beyond India’s northern border add another dimension to each dish.
Chef Umed’s favourite dish on the menu is the Tandoori Lamb Chop, where he marinates the lamb in chili, cream cheese, fenugreek leaf powder, and his homemade spice mix. The lamb is then cooked in the clay tandoor over hot coals, winning the hearts of many diners who come to Down to Earth. A natural storyteller, Chef Umed can often be found regaling stories to guests about the history of each dish, bringing to life the exotic flavours with tales from India’s past.
Chef Umed, who heads up Down to Earth’s kitchen is originally from Chandigarh, the capital of the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. He has been a chef at Soneva Kiri since 2017, moving up the ranks from Indian Chef to Chef de Cuisine in 2019. Prior to joining the Soneva family he began his career in hospitality at the Fairmont Jaipur, from there he went to work for The Oberoi Vayavilas Wildlife Resort and later at The Oberoi in New Delhi.