Healthy oven-baked tandoori salmon tikka in 10 minutes (that does not use food coloring). More importantly, melt-in-your-mouth salmon that is full of smoky tandoori flavors. You don’t have to put up with dry salmon anymore!
About the recipe
Have you ever taken a bite of tandoori salmon at Indian restaurants that looked bright orange and appetizing? Were you disappointed to find that it tasted bland and overcooked?
I’ve experienced that several times and I’m sure you must have, too.
That’s when I decided to bake my own salmon tandoori, also called salmon tikka. This recipe took a lot of effort, I should say the most number of trials, to get it right. Testing the recipe (until I was satisfied) was the hardest part.
Tandoori cooking is typically done in a tandoor oven which is a cylindrical clay oven. The smoky tandoori flavors can be achieved in this oven baked tandoori salmon recipe. The easy step by step instructions will help you make this recipe like a pro.
Baking salmon with a crust as in pesto-crusted salmon is delicious and also easy.
But cooking Indian salmon recipes is a bit tricky. Especially tandoori flavors are quite overpowering.
In tandoori pomfret recipe, the buttery pomfret absorbs tandoori flavors so well.
But salmon has a unique flavor of its own. I feel it is a sin to overpower that amazing flavor 😉
Long story short, I settled for a toned-down version of tandoori marinade that will allow the salmon flavor to shine through. It is more like the paneer tikka marinade.
(This is the fun part of making your own tandoori masala. You can tweak it however you want.)
So here is the final result of all my efforts which will help you make the best tandoori salmon tikka. Make sure you read the tips and tricks below to make the best use of this recipe.
Why you’ll love this baked tandoori salmon recipe
- A quick and easy salmon recipe like most of my seafood recipes.
- Tandoori salmon fillets are made of simple ingredients you can find at any Indian grocery store.
- The combination of salmon and tandoori flavors is well balanced. It gives you the salmon tikka that does not taste over-seasoned with Indian spices.
- Salmon does not get overcooked and rubbery since we broil it for a very short period. (This is in contrast to the baked salmon kabobs recipe where we cook at a low temperature for a long period. They turn out soft and juicy, but not browned.)
- You can achieve the signature bright-red “tandoori” look and smoky flavor using natural healthy ingredients. No food colors are used in this recipe. The trick is to….(Have some patience, my friend! Please read further…)
- Salmon: Thinner pieces work well for this recipe. Ensure that the thickness of the salmon fillets is about 1 inch or less.
- melted butter or ghee: for basting the salmon before broiling. Oil can also be used, but ghee/ butter gives a rich flavor and brighter color to the tandoori salmon.
- mustard oil: Again, a unique flavor you wouldn’t want to miss. That being said, you don’t have to kill yourself if you can’t find it. You can settle for any cooking oil, preferably vegetable oil.
- yogurt: A must-have ingredient for tandoori masala. 1 tablespoon is enough for this recipe.
- lemon juice: for the tang.
- Kashmiri chili powder: it imparts a bright red color to the dish without the heat of regular chili powder. It can be replaced with smoked paprika.
- If you want a bit of heat, feel free to add ½ teaspoon of regular red chilli powder or cayenne pepper.
- coriander powder
- garam masala
- turmeric powder
- cumin powder
- pepper & salt
How to make salmon tandoori masala (marinade)
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)
Here comes the important step. DO NOT skip this: Heat mustard oil in a small pan for about 5 minutes on medium flame.
Heat until you get the aroma of toasted oil. Do not let it smoke.
Add the hot oil to Kashmiri chili powder in a bowl. Mix well and let it cool.
Once it cools down, add the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix well.
How to make tandoori salmon
- Remove skin and pin bones if any, from the salmon fillets. Chop them into smaller cubes of about 2-inches width.
- Wipe excess moisture from salmon cubes using kitchen towels. Place them in a large bowl.
- Let them marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 390°F. Set the oven to “broil” mode.
- Shake off the excess marinade from the salmon pieces. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking tray. Brush with melted butter.
- Place the tray in the middle rack of the oven and broil for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter.
- Serve tandoori salmon with mint chutney or cilantro chutney.
- Tandoori flavors: Hot mustard oil with chili powder is responsible for the smoky flavor and the bright colour of this baked tandoori salmon. Try not to skip this step.
- Contrary to popular belief, this tandoori salmon tastes better if marinated longer. I have tested for up to 5 hours and it tasted amazing. The marinade is better absorbed and flavorful on the inside, too (Regular visitors here know that I’m always obsessed with flavors). This recipe beats the claim that salmon should be marinated for only a maximum of 30 minutes.
- Which rack in the oven? Ensure that you place the baking tray in the middle rack. While testing, I realised that salmon gets overcooked if placed in the top rack.
- Broiling time: DO NOT broil for more than 5 minutes, unless your salmon pieces are more than 1-inch thick.
- Internal temperature: If you have a food thermometer, check the internal temperature of salmon.
- It should be 125°F /52°C (120°F /49°C for wild-caught salmon) if you want your salmon medium rare.
- Or 145°F/ 63°C for salmon that is well done.
- Don’t have a thermometer? No worries. Cut through the thickest part of the salmon and check if it opaque.
- Opaque and pink=medium rare.
- Opaque and white=well done.
- Cooking times: May slightly differ based on your oven. If you find that the salmon is undercooked, broil in the oven for a couple of minutes more. Remember that the salmon continues to cook even after it is removed from the oven.
What to serve with tandoori salmon tikka
Make wraps with this salmon tikka by replacing chicken tikka in tandoori chicken rolls.
No time to blend chutneys? Serve this tandoori salmon with a simple cucumber salad or raitha.
Serve salmon tikka with coconut cauliflower rice for a low carb healthy meal.
Common questions about cooking salmon
What is the healthiest way to eat salmon?
Roasting in the oven is healthier than pan-frying. The best way to maintain healthy levels of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in salmon is to bake it.
Baking or broiling in the oven with less added fat helps keep down your total fat intake. Baking may also be a better way to retain the vitamin D content of fish.
Why is my salmon white and not pink?
The tandoori marinade imparts a nice orange-red color to the salmon on the outside. If you like your salmon medium rare, it should be a light shade of pink on the inside. If the salmon is white on the inside, that means it is well done.
The rule of thumb is to cook salmon for 5 minutes at 200°C/ 390°F for every ½ inch thickness for roasting. If the recipe calls for broiling (like this recipe), cook for 5 to 7 minutes for every 1-inch thickness.
This is a fail-proof way to get perfectly cooked salmon out of the oven. If the salmon is of uneven thickness, take the thickest part into consideration.
What is the difference between roast and broil?
Roasting is a slow-cooking method that uses overall heat from all sides of the oven to cook food evenly.
In contrast, broiling is a quick-cooking technique that uses high, direct heat from your oven’s top heating element. Broiling mainly provides top-down heat at high and extra-high temperatures to brown or crisp the top of food.
How do you cook salmon without drying it out?
When you overcook salmon, it gets dried out. Marinating salmon in a yogurt-based marinade like this tandoori salmon is one way to prevent salmon from drying out.
The mode in which salmon is cooked also helps in keeping it moist and tender. Either cook it in the oven in broil mode for a short time (like this salmon recipe) or slow-bake at lower temperatures like salmon kabobs.
Can you microwave leftover salmon?
Leftover salmon could still get overcooked if heated for a prolonged time. One way to prevent the salmon from drying out is to place a small bowl of water in the microwave while reheating.
This way, you can “steam” the salmon without overcooking it. Also, heat it until it is just warm enough to eat and not very hot until it gets cooked and turns rubbery.
More salmon recipes
Love fish curry in a hurry? Try this beginner-friendly Kerala fish curry with coconut. You’ll fall in love with it 🙂
More tandoori recipes
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Hi! I’m Sheeba, welcome to Go Healthy ever after!
I have a passion for cooking delicious nourishing food that’s easy to cook with fresh natural ingredients free from additives or preservatives. The easy healthy recipes you find here will inspire you to cook with creativity.