★★★★★ / Pakistani / South Asian

Namek Mandi review: private dining Pashtun-style means scoffing a whole lamb

Rather than hog a whole hogget to yourself, bring some mates and tupperware with you to Tooting.

Private dining in London often means sitting in a finely upholstered room, but with some remorsefully threadbare food on the plates. But only if your event requires graspingly aspirational formality and if you stick to the unimaginative choices parroted repeatedly in listicles.

If you preorder the whole lamb from Pashtun restaurant Namek Mandi in Tooting, you get to gobble your meaty feast with blithe, hedonistic abandon in the privacy of your own upstairs dining room. You have to pop off your shoes though, as you sit on plump floor cushions, with thick drapes covering the window. The overall feel is of eating in someone’s living room, although that’s part of the charm.

The whole lamb has to be pre-ordered at least a couple days in advance. Although tipping the scales at approximately 15kg, the entire beast (albeit served without head, limbs or internal organs) had been roasted with remarkable consistency. Every strand, chunk and morsel was perfectly moist and tender, with not a single dry, excessively chewy or tough mouthful to be found.

The taste, of course, varied depending on the part of the animal, ranging from earthy to fatty to moreish. The skin was especially delectable, supple and lightly salted. Underneath it all was a king-sized bed of basmati rice, the soft grains separated from each other and with a lightly buttery yet instantly addictive taste – possibly due to the rendered lamb fat seeping into it. My dining companions – Happy Buddha, Veal Smasher, Porn Master, Road Runner and Young Skywalker – looked on in alarm as I moaned and shivered with guttural pleasure at every mouthful.

illustrative photo of the whole lamb at Namak Mandi
I’ve resolutely failed to photographically capture the sheer scale and size of this ungulate beauty.
illustrative photo of the lamb sajji with rice at Namak Mandi
So here are some intimate beauty shots instead.
illustrative photo of the whole roast lamb at Namak Mandi
No, no-one in my party really bothered with the token veg scattered about on top. Other than the sharp red onions, which are always welcome with meaty pleasures like this. 
illustrative photo of the whole lamb sajji at Namak Mandi
Pity the poor dishwasher who has to wash all these giant sajji trays and naan hooks.

If you’re somehow still in need of carbs, there’s always the naan that’s so large it comes hanging off a metal rack like a coat back from the dry cleaners. While soft and hearty, it wasn’t as cosseting and pillowy as the more obviously ghee-slicked naans available elsewhere.

illustrative photo of the naan at Namak Mandi
Naan a single crumb was left uneaten.

If you inexplicably need a starter while waiting for the lamb to be sedaned up the stairs to your room, opt for the chapli kebab. Each coarsely ground meaty patty was lightly crispy then tender, with hints of spicy warmth and ginger.

illustrative photo of the chapli kebab at Namak Mandi
Think of it as a Pashtun frikadellen.

Instead of attempting to choose between the sweet, salty and mango lassis, just order jugs of all three. The salty variant had hints of mint, while the mango was more evocative of the fruit than many other versions elsewhere, including the bottled supermarket stuff. None were ever overpowering.

Rice pudding, served cold, was a smooth, lightly sweet and milky affair – eminently refreshing after the relative richness of the lamb.

illustrative photo of the firni rice pudding at Namak Mandi
Yes, I did forget to take photos of the jugs of lassi.

The Verdict

Although I had to cradle my swollen belly home and it took several days to polish off the tupperwared leftovers, that only increased my satisfaction rather than diminishing it. I’m still in awe of how accomplished and satisfying the whole lamb at Namek Mandi was. Private dining room or not, it’s justifiably one of London’s eating highlights.

Name: Namek Mandi (they can’t seem to decide whether to spell it ‘Namek’ or ‘Namak’ and it really annoys me)

Address: 25 Upper Tooting Road, Tooting, London SW17 7TS

Phone: 020 8767 6120

Web: facebook.com/namakmanditooting

Opening Hours: Friday-Saturday noon-01.00 and Sunday-Thursday noon-midnight. 

Reservations? essential to pre-order the whole lamb sajji by at least a couple days.

Total cost for one person including soft drinks when shared between six: £55 approx.

Rating: ★★★★★


One thought on “Namek Mandi review: private dining Pashtun-style means scoffing a whole lamb

  1. “it’s good to hear from you .. it’s been a while .. I’ve missed reading your reviews” .. if you ever need an extra pair of munchers, I’m a great ‘taste angel’

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