The Keralan Moilee Curry

You’ll often find a dish called Moilee on the menus of Indian restaurants. It’s a traditional fish curry from the southernmost state in India, Kerala. The fish is marinated in salt, black pepper, and turmeric before being poached in this deliciously spiced curry leaf-scented coconut milk broth that gets its vibrant golden yellow color from turmeric and its rich flavor from garam masala. Slit green chilies add a hint of heat, perfectly balanced by the sweetness of coconut milk and tanginess from lemon juice. Presenting my newest creation – Seared Scallops Moilee. I’ve given it a modern twist by using lovely bay scallops, coated with black pepper and turmeric, seared to perfection, and served in a pool of the traditional Keralan curry.

Seared Scallops Moilee

A Versatile and Flavorful Curry for the Whole Family

The well-balanced and flavorful Moilee curry works very well for my family, as it’s not too spicy and perfect for me to whip up on a weeknight. It comes together fairly quickly, and is easy to make with frozen fish or shrimp that I tend to always have on hand. This time, I decided to elevate my usual recipe and use scallops instead of the usual fish or shrimp. 

Seared Scallops Moilee

The scallops are dusted with freshly ground black pepper and turmeric before getting a quick sear in the pan. If you don’t eat scallops, you can use shrimp/prawns, any white fish of your choice, or even chicken tenderloins. You can also make it vegan/vegetarian by substituting the scallops with cauliflower and potatoes, along with any other veggies like peas, carrots, etc.

Seared Scallops Moilee

Spooned over rice, appam or idiyappam that are easily available in the frozen section of the Indian grocery stores, this delicious Seared Scallops Moilee makes for an elegant meal – a quick and easy weeknight dinner or a laid-back traditional weekend brunch! I have outlined step-by-step details below that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

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Seared Scallops Moilee


  • Author: Vasanti

Description

A modern spin on the classic Keralan curry, featuring seared scallops in the classic turmeric spiced, coconut milk-based Moilee sauce.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 lb bay scallops, about 1416 (see. Notes)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp fine ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • For the Moilee Sauce
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) coconut oil or a neutral oil of choice
  • 56 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 -inch (1.3 cm) piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1012 grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half along the length
  • 34 slit green chilies
  • 113.5 fl oz (400 ml) can of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 medium lemon or lime
  • 45 sprigs of cilantro, leaves chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • Sprinkle the scallops with salt, pepper and turmeric and toss to coat evenly.
  • In a deep sauté pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When it starts shimmering, add the scallops in one layer.
  • Lower the heat to a medium-low and without moving, allow the scallops to brown lightly on the side that is down. This should take about 2 minutes.
  • Flip the scallops using a spatula or a pair of tongs and let them brown on the other side for 2 minutes.
  • Transfer them to a platter and set aside.
  • In the remaining oil, add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, throw in the curry leaves.
  • Take a couple of steps back while the curry leaves splutter!
  • Let the curry leaves sizzle for about 30-45 seconds.
  • Using a pair of tongs, fish 2-3 leaves out of the pan and set them aside along with the scallops for garnishing.
  • Add the sliced onion to the pan. Sprinkle some salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes till it softens.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste, slit green chilies, turmeric and the garam masala followed by the halved grape tomatoes.
  • Sauté for about 2 minutes to cook the ginger-garlic and spices out.
  • Pour in the entire can of light coconut milk and stir to combine.
  • Season with salt and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a medium sized lemon.
  • Combine well, cover the pan and let it come to a boil.
  • Simmer uncovered for 4-5 minutes.
  • To serve, spoon the sauce into a shallow bowl or a plate. Place the seared scallops in the hot sauce along with steamed idiyappam (rice noodles or string hoppers) or basmati rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro, reserved fried curry leaves and enjoy!

Step-by-Step Details

Step: 1

Sprinkle the scallops with salt, pepper and turmeric and toss to coat evenly.

Step: 2

In a deep sauté pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When it starts shimmering, add the scallops in one layer. Lower the heat to a medium-low and without moving, allow the scallops to brown lightly on the side that is down. This should take about 2 minutes.

Step: 3

Flip the scallops using a spatula or a pair of tongs and let them brown on the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer them to a platter and set aside.

Step: 4

In the remaining oil, add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, throw in the curry leaves. Take a couple of steps back while the curry leaves splutter!

Step: 5

Let the curry leaves sizzle for about 30-45 seconds. Using a pair of tongs, fish 2-3 leaves out of the pan and set them aside along with the scallops for garnishing.

Step: 6

Add the sliced onion to the pan. Sprinkle some salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes till it softens.

Step: 7

Add the ginger-garlic paste, slit green chilies, turmeric and the garam masala. - Add the halved grape tomatoes at this point (missed in the picture!) Sauté for about 2 minutes to cook the ginger-garlic and spices out.

Step: 8

Pour in the entire can of light coconut milk and stir to combine.

Step: 9

Season with salt and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a medium sized lemon.

Step: 10

Combine well, cover the pan and let it come to a boil.

Step: 11

Simmer uncovered for 4-5 minutes.

Step: 12

To serve, spoon the sauce into a shallow bowl or a plate. Place the seared scallops in the hot sauce along with steamed idiyappam (rice noodles or string hoppers) or basmati rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro, reserved fried curry leaves and enjoy!

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Dry or Wet Scallops?

Purchase “dry scallops” from the grocery store as they are not treated with any chemical additives or preservative solutions unlike the “wet scallops”.

Pat Dry before using

Additionally, make sure to pat the scallops dry very well with a paper towel just before using them, for the best searing results.

Recipe Variations

If you don’t eat scallops, you can use shrimp/prawns, any white fish of your choice, or even chicken tenderloins.

You can also make it vegan by substituting the scallops with cauliflower and/or potatoes, along with any other veggies like peas, carrots, etc.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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