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Alhamra - Lombok.....

The Mystery of Arabia!

Originally there was Ali Baba, niow further down the same road is Alhambra, same staff same food but better premises. They serve food of the Middle East. A small eating house somewhere in between a simple warung and café, nothing flash! In fact it is just like the thousands of kebab houses you find throughout the Middle East.

Like many restaurants in Indonesia they translate Kambing as Lamb, whereas in fact it is goat. Goat meat when properly handled is a very sweet delicate meat.

Entrees start with Sambousa [Arab versions of the Indian Samosa], large triangles of thin filo pastry are stuffed with a mix of minced goat meat and finely chopped vegetables, very tasty! They normally arrive with a simple sauce accompaniment of tomato and chilli. Ask for their great mustard mayonnaise instead, it gives these wonderful pastries a lift in taste. Your plate of two Sambousas cost $1.

Syurba al Adas is a lentil soup, yellow lentils boiled then mashed and combined with flour for thickening, a hearty soup is this, full of fibre. Maraq is an Arabian soup of goat meat and vegetables. Zalata is an Arabian salad, just a bowl of chopped tomato and cucumber, OK if combined with a main that has roti [unleavened bread].

Shoarma, originating in Egypt, is shredded beef tossed in a sauce, and eaten with roti. The Shish Kebab is unusual, marinated strips of beef are grilled on skewers but then removed before serving, again eaten with roti which you wrap around before dipping in the mustard mayonnaise. Awsal is kebabs of goat, a Turkish satay; first marinated in yoghurt, paprika powder and other spices before being grilled over embers then served with a side garnish of crushed pineapple, peppers and onion. The meat is served after being removed from the grilling sticks and the small pieces of meat are incredibly tender and full of taste. Again you eat with roti, wrapping the meat within a fold of the roti and dipping in a tangy mix of mayonnaise, egg yolk and mustard.

Dejaj is grilled marinated meat from either kambing [goat] or chicken. Kambing Bakar is grilled goat, although goat meat is not suited to direct grilling without a prior preparation of slow boiling and/or marinating.

The main dishes at Alhamra are based around their Kebuli, which is special Arabian rice. I had thought that Persian rice as served with Chelo Kebabs had the most complicated preparation method but this one is even more so. Firstly the rice is pan fried in oil with a mix of fresh herbs and spices; cumin, cardamom, coriander and cloves amongst others. When the 'smell is right'; stage two begins. Coconut milk and water is added and the rice is simmered slowly until completely dry, placed aside and left to cool. It is then steamed before serving. The result a light and fluffy non-greasy fried rice, that smells as good as it tastes. This is normally served with a small lump of meat [goat or chicken] still on the bone. You drag out slivers of meat and mix into the rice, along with the side sambal of red chilli, tomato and onion and combine with the small pile of freshly sliced red and green chillis mixed with diced cucumber and onion to lessen the heat. Mix all together and let the fire simmer inside! Wonderful!

Most of the other main courses can also be had with Kebuli, Roti or both.

Pure Halal, so no alcohol, but a big variety of soft drinks including their Special Punch, a blend of fresh juices whisked with soda, a refreshing drink, as is their special Mint Tea [made for two persons]. Something very different is their Avocado & Coffee drink. They also have Arabian Coffee [with cinnamon and cloves] or Chocolate, as well as the usual range of milk shakes and juices. Even more different is their Tamr Float, date juice mixed with vanilla ice cream. Syai bil Na'na is mint tea and Syai bil Halib is a milk tea made with the addition of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, a real taste of Arabia.

Incredibly cheap and with the same sort of funny, cheeky, young service you come to expect in Marrakesh and other similar North African Arab cities, although only the owner at Ali Baba is from the Middle East [Yemen], the staff are all local Sasak.

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Alhamra - Lombok
Jln. Catur Warga 4,
Mataram, Lombok.
(0370) 640.800
11.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., daily.
Off-street in front of restaurant.
Rp. 80,000 for two [+ drinks]
Credit Cards:
- None
Cheeky but fun!
Eat and go.
Cheap meat and rice.
Last Reviewed:
March 2009
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