Chocolate shawarma exists at Martabaan restaurant

When it comes to restaurants, many proclaim innovation but, Martabaan truly succeeds.

Martabaan is a new fine dining destination carefully crafted by internationally acclaimed chef, Hemant Oberi.

Its fresh concept is best described as a ‘contemporary classic’ which blends traditional Indian recipes with refined techniques. To celebrate its arrival in the capital, we were invited to get a first taste of the new location and most importantly, the food. 

Nestled inside Emirates Palace, Martabaan extends the grandeur and luxuriousness of the hotel with earth tones, natural finishes and ornate chandeliers providing just the right amount of sparkle.

The space is quaint with a long, narrow bar area that opens to a more generously laid out dining room. The décor draws from Indian aesthetics with colourfully upholstered seating and pillows wrapped in an array of textiles. 

Trays of perfectly presented appetisers like chicken tikka fondue make the rounds. We dip portions of chicken into a vat of warm, creamy cheese and manage to get it into our mouths without incident. We also sample shrimps on the rocks; sizzling, spiced shrimp resting on a plate of hot, black stones. The bite-sized shrimp is well seasoned and not too spicy. 

Next, we tuck into the hummus Martabaan platter, which contains mini naans and four different flavours of hummus including tahini, truffle and regionally inspired cumin chickpeas and pickle hummus.  

With the goal of defying convention, Indian staples like butter chicken are not on the menu but we get our fill of reimagined versions of tandoori lamb and biryani. Succulent pieces of lamb are carved and paired with stuffed jacket potatoes and cumin asparagus. We enjoy servings of biryani rice scooped from a glass ‘deg’. We also double up on mains with juicy pieces of three lemon chicken tikka, marinated in kaffir, Italian lime and lemon – don’t judge us.  

Chef Oberi’s inventive spirit really shines through at the end of the meal when we sink our teeth into a locally-inspired dessert. Chocolate shawarma, a sweet take on a UAE favourite, is prepared in and served from, a specially designed appliance commissioned by the Chef himself. The device, like a vertical rotisserie, produces delicious portions of rich, gooey chocolate with crispy edges – so good that we devour without snapping a photo. This original concept was both a satisfying way to end the meal and a testament to true innovation. 

Need to Know: We say: Indian with a twist. AED 700 for two. Emirates Palace Hotel, Corniche West. Daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11pm. 02 690 9000,


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