Whenever I see peanuts and spinach in a menu item, I order it. I just love the combination—and I know I’m not alone since I find myself in good company with the millions of Maharashtrians. Shrimp or any other firm-fleshed fish works well as an alternative to the grilled sea scallops in this curry.–Raghavan Iyer
Indian Pan-Grilled Sea Scallops
For the Kolhapuri masala
- 1 cup dried red Thai or cayenne chiles stems removed
- 1/2 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 4 blades mace
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons ground Kashmiri chiles or 1/2 tablespoon cayenne (ground red pepper) mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
For the sea scallops
Make the Kolhapuri masala
- Combine all the ingredients except the ground Kashmiri chiles in a medium-size bowl, and stir to coat with the oil.
- Preheat a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Pour the oiled spices into the skillet and roast the blend, stirring constantly 3 to 4 minutes.
- Immediately transfer the spices to a plate to cool. Once they are cool to the touch, place half of the spices in a spice or coffee grinder and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. Pour the ground mixture into the same medium-size bowl and grind the remaining half. Combine. Stir in the ground Kashmiri chiles.
- Store in a tightly sealed jar, away from excess light, heat, and humidity for up to 2 months.
Make the sea scallops
- Combine the scallops with the turmeric in a medium-size bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or as long as overnight, to allow the flavor to permeate the thick muscle (since there is nothing acidic to break down the mollusk’s texture, it’s fine to marinate them overnight).
- Pour the peanuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they have the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallops, marinade and all (there won’t be much at the bottom of the bowl), arranging them in a single layer. Sear the scallops’ two broad sides until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate.
- Add the garlic to the same skillet and stir-fry until it is light brown, about 1 minute. Pile in the spinach leaves, cover the skillet, and cook until the spinach is wilted, 5 to 8 minutes. (As the steam rises from within, the leaves will sweat and release their liquid, which will deglaze the pan and build yet another layer of flavor.) Stir in the masala and salt.
- Add the scallops (including any liquid pooled in the plate), and cover them with a blanket of the wilted greens. Cover and cook, without stirring, until the scallops are firm to the touch but not rubbery, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer the scallops to a serving platter. Add the peanuts to the spinach in the skillet, and stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to allow the nuts to absorb the excess liquid and thicken the sauce, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Spoon the spinach-peanut mixture over the scallops, and serve.
Originally published August 02, 2009