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Seared Scallops Moilee

  • Author: Vasanti


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


  • 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


  • 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!