Al Mirage in Tooting prides itself on tasty Pakistani cuisine that provides a healthier option for their customers. We sat down with Shamim for a chat (and some pakoras and mango lassi).
Hi Shamim. So, how long has Al Mirage been here, and why did you settle in Tooting?
We’ve been here since 2006. We chose Tooting because we love it. After all, we’ve lived here for 16 years and Mitcham before that, so we’ve always had an affinity for the area.
So you and your family run it?
Yes, myself and my husband Saeed, who’s our head chef, and has just clocked up 25 years experience as a chef. Our sons Awaez and Mujahid help to run the place too.
And what kind of food do you serve?
Pakistani food. If you’re unfamiliar with it, we’ll happily advise you on what to try. For example, we always recommend our mixed grill (grilled chops, chicken tikka and masala ﬁsh). It’s something that people don’t have the facilities to do at home, so it’s a bit special, and one of our even healthier options (but I’ll come to that in a minute).
It’s also worth trying our pahari gosht (lamb on the bone) with a fresh green salad, and mint or lemon tea. We’re very proud of our naans – we do keema, peshwari, cheese and more. Aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), chicken karahi and lamb korma are all popular choices, as is chicken tikka masala – we have a different spin on it though, as customers have a choice of two sauces, a creamy one and an Asian one.
We also serve nehari, (slow-cooked beef stew) and haleem (slow-cooked lamb stew).
And you strive to make the food as healthy as possible?
Absolutely, Saeed is really passionate about making healthy food, without compromising on quality. We were one of the ﬁrst restaurants in Tooting to use sunflower oil instead of ghee and have greatly reduced the amount of salt in the food – we also use a minimal amount of oil, so our food is as healthy as we can make it, without sacrificing taste.
We’ve even gained ofﬁcial recognition for our healthy food, winning the Heartbeat Award, a scheme run by local authorities to recognise restaurants and food establishment which
offer customers a healthy choice of menu.
We’ve also proudly supported the Tooting Foodival for the last few years, cooking up locally donated fruit and veg which is served for free to the community!
Tell us about your regulars.
People come back time and time again, so we’re very familiar with many of our customers. Some started coming in with their kids, and we’ve watched them grow up over the years – it’s really lovely to see the customers growing up before our eyes!
Two of our regulars, Sam and Graham, come in around once a week all the way from Tolworth. We always chat and have a catch-up. We want people to feel welcome here and to provide as much of a family atmosphere as possible.
And what else do you offer?
We of course do takeaway and free home delivery. We also cater events in the restaurant – we can accommodate 130 people over two floors. There is a lift to the ﬁrst floor making it accessible for people with disabilities. There is a separate room for parties of up to 70 — ideal for weddings and other functions. We’ll also provide catering at a venue of your choice.
Sounds like you love what you do!
Of course – we wouldn’t be doing it otherwise!
The restaurant is HMC Halal certified and has a strict no alcohol policy.