Alibabba Arabian Cuisine sources South American inspiration

 Owner Geraldine Diaz, center, works hard to ensure her staff feels that Alibabba is their place, too.

Owner Geraldine Diaz, center, works hard to ensure her staff feels that Alibabba is their place, too.

Geraldine Diaz opened Alibabba Arabian Cuisine at 9006 S. Fry Road, Ste. C, Katy, on June 20, 2016. The restaurant features a fusion of Arabian and Mediterranean cuisine, including shawarma, falafel and tabbouleh.

“I come from a small town in Venezuela where about 40 to 50 percent of the [people] are from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria­—just a lot of different places like that,” Diaz said.

She grew up in Maturin, Venezuela, about a 6.5-hour drive from the capital city of Caracas. It was easier to find Arabian and Mediterranean food in her hometown than it was to find traditional Venezuelan cuisine, she said.

Diaz studied food technology in Venezuela at Universidad de Oriente in Cumaná. Her husband, Gustavo Carvajal, is a petroleum engineer and was transferred to Scotland from 2002 to 2005 and again from 2008 to 2011. Diaz and their two children, Miranda and Diego, went as well.

The family moved between Scotland and Venezuela mostly, but when an opportunity arose to work in the Greater Houston area in 2011, the family moved to the U.S. Diaz and her family subsequently moved to Katy in June 2012. Diaz then decided to put her culinary education to use and serve what she considered a niche cuisine.

“There was no Arabian food in the area, so when we wanted [that kind] of food, we had to drive for miles and miles,” she said.

Diaz contacted a friend and chef, George Rojas, in Venezuela and asked him to start the restaurant with her. Together, they developed a menu and signature dishes with a variety of combinations.

At Alibabba Arabian Cuisine, dishes can be ordered a la carte or on combination plates. The restaurant’s most popular item is a combination plate of fried kibbes, falafel, grape leaf rolls, Arabian rice, tabbouleh and two dip choices.

Ali Babba Arabian Cuisine in Katy uses South American inspiration Combination plate No. 2 is the most popular dish at Alibabba Arabian Cuisine. It comes with two fried kibbes, two falafel balls, two grape leaf rolls, Arabian rice, tabbouleh salad, a side of pita bread and a beverage.[/caption]

Kibbes are small, football-shaped fritters with ground beef, onions and other ingredients that give them a savory flavor. The Arabian rice is mildly seasoned with fresh ground beef, chicken, almonds and garlic, and a smooth flavor.

Diaz said she can accommodate most food allergies but added pine nuts or shaved almonds are integral ingredients for most of the restaurant’s menu. Diaz said her staff make the restaurant successful by educating customers and providing good service.

“We like to be like a family team, so [staff] can feel like this belongs to them as well,” she said.

Alibabba Arabian Cuisine

9006 S. Fry Road, Ste. C, Katy