Award-winning Suffolk chef Lilian Hiw simplifies Asian cookery with this tasty tandoori recipe
I was delighted to be invited to write a monthly column to share my love and passion for food.
Let me introduce myself, my name is Lilian Hiw and I am originally from Singapore.
I am a private chef, cookery teacher and owner of Lilian’s Kitchen.
My years of training in the classical kitchen, combined with my exposure to the bold, fragrant and exotic international food culture in Singapore and my travels influences my style of cooking.
Lilian’s Kitchen was born six years ago with the vision to share my love of Asian food.
I was initially cooking privately for dinner parties and teaching clients to cook in their homes.
A year later, I launched my public cookery classes and was thrilled to have customers travelling from London, Cambridge and Essex etc to attend the classes.
I just love the privilege of sharing my experience, my culture, the cuisine from my heritage and the chance to demystify Asian cookery.
I am excited to share my Tandoori salmon kebab recipe with you this month.
The philosophy behind all my recipes is that everyone should be able to produce authentic tasting Asian food with readily available ingredients from your local stores, easy to follow methods and using my tips, be able to replicate the dishes at home with ease.
So, using three simple ingredients – salmon, Greek yoghurt and tandoori spice – this recipe is easy to prepare, quick, healthy and the warming spices makes it instantly tasty.
You can pick up authentic tasting tandoori spice from most supermarkets, they are labelled with different names like Tandoori curry powder, Tandoori spice mix or Tandoori masala.
The ingredients generally include paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, cloves, mace, fenugreek, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, chilli, nutmeg, tomato powder and citric.
Traditionally, red or yellow food colouring is added to give the food its signature tandoori appearance. Nowadays, paprika, tomato powder and or chilli are used to give the typical red colour of the tandoori and to impart a smoky and acidic flavour with a hint of heat.
Food cooked in a tandoor oven is known as tandoori.
Traditionally, a tandoor oven is made from clay, it is cylinder in shape, open at the top and wood or coal is heated up to a blazing 300 to 400 degree Celsius.
For the home cook trying to recreate the tandoor oven, a barbecue with a clay domed lid that has an adjustable air vent is a good substitute as the shape of the cover reflects the heat evenly and the air vent creates an exchange of air, allowing the food to get a nice char from the high temperature but still kept moist.
The good news is, a barbecue is not essential, as this recipe can also be cooked easily in a conventional home oven, frying pan, air fryer or oven. How great is that?
You can serve the salmon on a skewer for a garden party, or stuff the cooked salmon into pitta pockets or folded flatbread for a casual meal and a quick snack, or serve them as whole fillets for a dinner party.
The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can also use the same recipe to create additional dishes, substituting raw king prawns or chicken in place of the salmon. Check out my recipe notes for tips and trade secrets.
The fresh coriander and garlic yoghurt dip deserves a shout out, too.
With just three ingredients, plus a pinch of salt, you can produce a creamy, tangy, fragrant and fresh dip that can be used as a sauce or dressing to complement countless dishes.
If you fancy an extra crunch, you can add some finely diced cucumber to the dip, the taste and texture of the cucumber compliments the spiced salmon well.
Just a little tip – slice the cucumber into half lengthwise, use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds before you dice the cucumber. The seeds are water logged, so this little step would ensure you have a creamy sauce instead of a watery one.
I chose this as my first recipe to share with you because it is very popular amongst my students and friends. They cook it at home often as it is so quick, easy and tasty.
Tandoori salmon is definitely my family’s ‘go to salmon dish’ too, and my son Daniel loves it. It was also greatly received by the audience at last year’s Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival when I did my demonstration on the Stove cookery theatre stage.
Numerous people who attended the cookery theatre very kindly contacted me to let me know how much they have enjoyed recreating them at home.
That made me very happy as it warms my heart that my determination to demystify Asian cooking is coming true and more people are able to enjoy and partake in making simplified Asian dishes.
As I was writing this article, I received the wonderful news from London & South East England Prestige Awards that we have won Cookery School of the Year 2023/24!
This was made even more exciting when they also announced we have won, for the third year running, Private Chef of the Year.
I am absolutely thrilled with these accolades and it definitely calls for a celebration!
Now that the warmer weather and sunshine are more prevalent, I am motivated to throw some tandoori salmon kebabs on the barbecue, pop open a few bottles and invite some friends round to celebrate with us.
I really hope that you will try this and future recipes and I would love to hear of your creations. Better still, send me some pictures on Facebook or Instagram @Lilianhiw or email me at email@example.com.
TANDOORI SALMON KEBABS
Prep time: 10-15minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
For the kebabs:
500gm fresh salmon fillets (roughly 4 fillets), cut into cubes
4 teaspoons Greek yoghurt, full fat
2 teaspoons Tandoori spice
Salt to taste (see recipe notes 1)
For the dip:
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt, full fat
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil, to brush on salmon before grilling
Skewers – metal or bamboo (see recipe notes 2)
Mix cubed salmon with yoghurt, spice and salt, leave to marinate for 5 mins (see recipe notes 3).
In the meantime, mix all the ingredients together for the dip. Set aside ready to serve.
Skewer salmon onto metal or bamboo skewers, brush with oil. Cook on the barbecue, under a grill (see recipe notes 4) or pan fry them!
Taste the tandoori spice before adding salt. Different brands have varying amounts of salt added to the spice mix.
If using bamboo skewers, soak the bamboo skewers for 10 minutes in warm tap water prior to skewering, it helps prevent the skewers from burning too easily and gets rid of any foreign smells.
Do not marinate the fish for too long or the texture of the flesh will become mushy.
If cooking under the grill, cover the exposed bamboo skewers with foil to stop them from burning.
*Using the same recipe, you can replace salmon with raw king prawns or chicken to create a new dish. When making tandoori chicken, marinade overnight to allow the seasoning to penetrate through to the core of the meat.
INTRODUCING LILIAN HIW
Lilian is chef and owner of local business Lilian’s Kitchen, offering private dining experiences and cookery classes.
She grew up in Singapore where she was inspired by the bold, fragrant and exotic international food culture.
Lilian has worked as a chef at some of the most prestigious hotels in south-east Asia and the Far East, including time as catering sales director at the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
London & South East England Prestige Awards Private Chef of the Year 2021, 2022 and 2023; Cookery School of the Year 2023
Call 07813 702759