Tandoori Salmon Pakora

I first saw this recipe being made by the esteemed BBQ writer and TV host Steve Raichlen. I remember watching his TV show Primal Grill (2008-2010 on PBS) with envy while he showed off an extensive grill/smoker collection.

On an episode entitled “Bombay Blast,” Steve made Tandoori Grilled Salmon Steaks. The most interesting aspect of this recipe was the inclusion of chickpea flour (aka garbanzo flour or besan) in the marinade. After making his recipe myself, I realized that the chickpea flour creates a little crunchy layer on the outside of the fish – resembling the “pakoras” my mom made when it was raining outside (a tradition in many south Asian families).

Over the years, I’ve experimented with this dish and found a few shortcuts: using garlic ginger paste and premixed tandoori spices.


  • 1-1/2 pounds salmon – cut so it will be easy to skewer

For the garlic water:

  •  3 tblspn of garlic ginger paste (or 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped and one 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and rough chopped)
  • 2 cups water

For the marinade:

  • 3 heaping tablespoons of garlic ginger paste (or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped and one 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and rough chopped)
  • 1 small onion, rough chopped
  • 1 package of Shan Tandoori Masala – available in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores and on Amazon
  • (if unable to get Shan Tandoori Masala, use 2 teaspoons coarse salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1-1/2 teaspoons ajwain (carom seeds) or caraway seeds, and 2 teaspoons turmeric powder)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1 cup chickpea flour (also called garbanzo flour or besan) – available at Indian/Pakistani grocery stores and at Whole Foods and Amazon

    Found chickpea flour (aka garbanzo flour or besan) in the bulk items section at Whole Foods
Ingredients assembled (except egg)


  1. Make the garlic-ginger water and marinade the salmon in it.  Add garlic ginger paste to water and mix thoroughly. Place the salmon in this mix and marinade, covered, in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

    Salmon in the garlic-ginger water
  2. Make the marinade. Mix the tandoori masala, yogurt, egg, and chickpea flour, Marinade the salmon in this mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

    The marinade.
  3. Set up your grill for grateless grilling. This is an important step! The chickpea flour will stick to grates and will be lost whenever the salmon is moved. Grateless grilling be accomplished in one of several ways. Steve Raichlen’s suggestion is to arrange bricks or other fireproof supports opposite each other on the grill grate; the idea is to suspend skewers between them. My method was to use a smaller grill (the Akorn Jr), remove the grate, and suspend skewers across the grate.

    The beautiful and tasty crust sticks to the grill, so grateless grilling is a must for this recipe.
  4. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees (medium-high heat). Thread the salmon onto metal skewers (I double-skewered them) and suspend between the two supports. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through and golden brown. Let rest for a couple of minutes before carefully removing from the skewers. Serve immediately.

    Salmon (and an onion on the left) suspended above the coal.
The final product ready to eat. Flavor permeates all the way through the salmon. 

3 thoughts on “Tandoori Salmon Pakora

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