Kebabs may bring to mind hot coals, backyard barbecues, and long, laid-back summer days. But there’s no reason to save skewering for the summer months. By turning to our broilers, we can have quick, flavorful kebabs on the table any evening of the week, no matter the weather or time of year.
I came up with the recipe for these salmon kebabs with radish raita as a way to bridge late winter and early spring—just as the first tender radishes are appearing at the farmers markets near me, yet spring’s bounty is still weeks away. All winter long I’ve been slow-roasting salmon in the oven, so these super speedy, boldly flavored kebabs are a welcome change of pace. I can look out my kitchen screen door to two grills, but when it’s dark and cold outside, and I’m juggling dinner prep with homework duty, the broiler is my best friend.
What makes these kebabs so special, and so good, is the radish raita. One batch of the raita does double duty: a small amount acts as a marinade for the salmon, and the rest is a sauce at the table. To punch up the flavor of the marinade portion, I add kashmiri chili powder, commonly used in Indian cooking for its bright red color and gentle heat (though sweet paprika and a pinch or two of cayenne are fine substitutes). In a matter of minutes, the salmon kebabs emerge from the broiler crisp and charred on the outside, and flaky and tender on the inside. The little bits of radish that cling to the salmon impart a lovely texture and depth of flavor. It’s hard not to have fun smearing and dipping each bite of the seared, spiced salmon in the cooling raita on the plate.
Notes and Tips
Traditionally, raita is made with dahi (or curd), a thin, salted yogurt. Plain, whole-milk yogurt (one that’s low in sugar) is the best approximation. Cumin and mustard seeds, tempered first in hot oil to release their flavor, nicely complement the flavor of salmon and radish, though other spices (individually or in combination) can be used, such as crushed coriander, cayenne, and garam masala. A little spice goes a long way.
A thick fillet of salmon works best for kebabs; ask your fishmonger to remove the skin. To get a head start on dinner, marinate the salmon in the morning and refrigerate; just hold back the salt in the marinade until you’re ready to broil the kebabs. The kebabs cook quickly under the broiler, so flip them after a few minutes, and check for doneness after a few more.
Thread the pieces of salmon on two skewers to prevent them from doing somersaults when you flip the kebabs, and leave a little space between each piece to promote even browning on all sides. If you’re in a big hurry, skip the skewering and broil the whole piece of salmon for a few minutes longer than the kebabs. You’ll forfeit surface area (which equals flavor) but gain prep speed.
You can use a grill pan instead of a broiler; just make sure the pan is large enough for the skewers to lay flat, to promote a good char on the salmon. Or, of course, head outside to the grill!
These kebabs are versatile in the way they can be served. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Garam masala peas: cook peas until tender, drain them, then stir in butter or ghee, garam masala, and a little lemon juice to taste.
- Simply roasted or steamed asparagus or broccoli.
- A green leafy salad (young tender spinach and arugula are nice options), dressed with raita. To make the dressing, whisk a few tablespoons of raita with lemon juice (to taste) and just enough olive oil or vegetable oil, to thin.
- Meera Sodha’s perfect basmati rice.
- Warm naan, either served on the side or smeared with raita and stuffed full of salmon and greens.
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded radish (from about 4 medium radishes), divided
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/4 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces (ask your fishmonger to remove the skin)
- 3/4 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder (or substitute an equal amount of sweet paprika and a pinch or two of cayenne)
- a small handful of fresh cilantro or mint leaves, for serving
How else do you put your broiler to work? Let us know in the comments!