Serves: 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course
1 medium bulb of garlic
½ cup (100g) unsalted butter
12 fresh (ideally) or dried curry leaves
Seeds from 10 cardamom pods, finely ground
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp dried chili flakes (optional)
½ tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
Sunflower or vegetable oil, for dipping the scallops
8 fresh king scallops, including the shell, cleaned, skirts removed and discarded
Lime wedges, to serve (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C/gas mark 7).
2. Roast the garlic for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft and beginning to color golden brown. Allow to cool a bit, then skin all of the garlic cloves, leaving just the soft roasted flesh.
3. Melt the butter in a small frying pan. When it is hot but not smoking, add the garlic flesh and mash it in. Next, add the cardamom and then the turmeric.
4. Add the curry leaves to the butter. The curry leaves should spit and pop. Fry, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.
5. Allow to sauté gently for another 2 minutes or so while you add the chili flakes (if using) and sea salt to taste. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. If the butter has gone a faint nut brown, this is fine. When the butter is done, leave to one side.
6. Place a small frying pan over a high heat and get it very hot. Pour a little sunflower or vegetable oil on a plate. Dip both flat sides of each scallop into the oil before lowering them into the pan. (This should be done to the coral too, if using.) An aggressive sizzling should be heard the minute the scallops kiss the pan. This hard fry will caramelize the plentiful sugars in the scallop meat, creating that heavenly savory toffee flavor.
7. Turn the scallops (and corals, if using) after about 1–1½ minutes, or after one side is browned, and brown the other side for another minute. If the scallops are small, you may only need to brown one side. The middle of the scallop should remain almost raw. Warm the curried garlic butter now, if need be.
8. Season the scallops with a little extra sea salt and arrange them either back in their shells or on a plate.
9. Spoon over the warmed garlic butter and serve with wedges of lime, if desired.