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Butter Tandoori-Style
Salmon Masala

For those of you who don’t eat meat -- and even for those of you who are normally quite carnivorous, like me -- sometimes it is great to redesign classic dishes to use fish or even vegetables.

This dish, based on the Indian classic, “Butter Chicken,” uses thick salmon fillets that have been marinated in yogurt and spices before being broiled to obtain a tiny bit of a char. The salmon is then coated in a spicy sauce of tomatoes, cream, and a tiny bit of butter. It’s a winning combination.

A bowl of Butter Salmon garnished with cilantro and yogurt by Simon Majumdar

Butter Tandoori-Style Salmon Masala Recipe

(Serves About 4)



For the Salmon:

  • 4 Thick Salmon Steaks (or Salmon Fillets) (Leave the skin on to help the fish stay together. You can remove it after cooking if you would like)

  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

  • 1 Teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder

  • ¼  Cup Whole Milk Yogurt


For the Sauce:

  • 1 Large White Onion

  • 3 Serrano Chili (Deseeded and Minced)

  • 1 Inch Fresh Ginger (Minced)

  • 3 Cloves Garlic (Minced)

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 Teaspoon Turmeric

  • 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar

  • 4 Large Red Tomatoes (Diced)

  • 1 Cup Water

  • 3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

  • ¼ Stick Unsalted Butter

  • 2 Tablespoon Ghee or 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

  • ¼ Cup Cilantro Leaf (Optional – for Garnish)


For the Salmon:

  1. Whisk together the garam masala, turmeric, red chili powder and yogurt.

  2. Smear this over the salmon until all the surface is coated.

  3. Place in a bowl or on a plate in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  4. When ready to cook, broil under a high heat for 10 minutes turning once.

  5. You want a little bit of char to appear on the salmon but you don’t want to over cook it as it will fall apart in the sauce.

For the Sauce:

  1. While the salmon is marinating, bring the oil or ghee to a medium temperature in a saucepan.

  2. Once heated, add the onions. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

  3. Add the chili, ginger and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

  4. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, ground ginger, salt, pepper and sugar. Combine well and cook for 2-3 minutes.

  5. Add the tomatoes and the water. 

  6. Bring to a simmer and cover the pan.

  7. Then, cook for 10-12 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.

  8. After the tomatoes have broken down, take the sauce and blend it to a smooth paste.

  9. Return to the pan and add the heavy cream and the butter.

To Serve:

  1. Place the cooked salmon on a serving dish or bowl.

  2. Spoon over the sauce until the salmon is completely coated.

  3. Sprinkle with cilantro leaf, if you are using it.

  4. Serve with plain Basmati rice or Indian breads, like my recipe for Garlic Naan.

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