Simple Butter Scallops

Butter chicken (also known as chicken makhani) is one of my favorite take-out dishes.  It’s a rich, spicy, tomato-cream sauce that is laced with pieces of chicken breast.  Most recipes are fairly complex and require a large range of spices.  My goal, as an inherently lazy cook, was to make something that was quick to put together and required fewer spices.  I’m pretty happy with my quick, decidedly inauthentic version of the dish.  Scallops cook really quickly and they are wonderful bathed in this sauce, but you can use chicken or shrimp with excellent results.

Simple Butter Scallops

Doesn’t that look great?  I used some smaller, dry-pack sea scallops and I have made this three times in the past month.  Incredibly fast and delicious.

Simple Butter Scallops
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 cup minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger paste
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons garam masala
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche (or heavy cream)
  • fresh cilantro, to garnish
  1. In a large skillet or wok pan, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until it just starts to soften. Add in the garlic paste, ginger paste, tomato paste, salt, garam masala, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. It will be very thick, but the cooking at this stage will bring out the flavors of the spices.
  2. Add in the scallops and the creme fraiche, and cook until the scallops are just cooked through. This will take about 5 minutes. Garnish with the fresh cilantro and serve.

Simple Butter Scallops

I use creme fraiche because I typically only consume cultured dairy (and I like to make my own), but heavy cream works well as a substitute.  You could make this dairy free by using coconut oil instead of the ghee, and using a cup of full-fat coconut milk in place of the creme fraiche.

All of the spices are to taste, so you can make this as mild or spicy as you like.

Simple Butter Scallops

After a month of not-very-clean eating, I am planning on a month of soups and salads to get back on track.   Time to cleanse the body of the holidays!

Thanks for reading,


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14 Responses to Simple Butter Scallops

  1. Bonnie Banters January 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    Fabulous way to start the New Year…looks and sounds so flavorful! Happy New Year Angela!

    • Angela January 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      Happy New Year, Bonnie!

  2. Eric B. January 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    We are going to have to try this one! In fact, we might have to do this with chicken tonight! We have everything except the ginger paste. Do you suppose some powdered ginger would substitute?

    • Angela January 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      You could do that for sure, just decrease it by at least half, as the powdered stuff is a lot stronger.

  3. Heath February 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Puree a butternut squash with some ghee and mix both squash and scallop meal after cooked in microwave.

    My pastes took the form of a small skinned ginger root and two cloves of garlic. I added a few oz. of water and zipped in my nutri-bullet.

    Omitted cayenne for the kiddos. Sweeter blend, add more cinnamon.

    Good recipe. Ty

  4. Yuli April 19, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    I made these but with shrimp instead and they were divine! Everyone in my family loved them.

    • Angela April 20, 2015 at 8:41 am #

      Great idea! I’m so glad you liked it, thanks for letting me know.

  5. Meghan May 19, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    This dish was my first attempt at at Indian fare and it was a big hit with the hubby and my 5 year old. I added a bay leaf and about 2 TBS of butter to the tomato paste…(hey, it isn’t called buttered chicken/shrimp/scallops for nothing, right? Gotta feed that HDL!) 🙂 I thickened up the sauce by adding a dollop of full fat greek yogurt and some cashews I blended with half and half in the blender. We will be eating this on a regular basis from here on out. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Angela May 20, 2015 at 7:09 am #

      Wow, excellent additions! Sounds delicious, Meghan, so happy that you liked the recipe.


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