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Saturday Serving Pickle's Sunil Ghai shares some recipes from his first book

The award-winning chef and owner of Pickle, Tiffin and Street restaurants has a new book, Spice Box out now.

I FELL IN love with cooking while helping my mother as a child. She was an exceptional home cook. I later trained as a chef at the five-star Overoi Hotel Group in India, which taught me about cooking to a very high standard.

I came to Ireland in 2000 and at the time, I noticed the lack of authentic Indian food here. I was determined to claim back the ‘Indian-ness’ of this cuisine and encourage the people in Ireland to embrace it, so I opened Pickle on Camden Street in Dublin and then Tiffin and Street restaurants.  

image001 (2) Joanne Murphy Joanne Murphy

Now, I have a new book, Spice Box and in it I have over 100 recipes and hope to encourage you to also inject some spice and taste into your own home cooking.

There really isn’t any mystery in the creation of authentic Indian dishes at home and once you use the key spices that are available at supermarkets around the country with ingredients that can be sourced locally. Getting the flavour right means you can serve up anything you like, to the delight of family members or guests.

image003 Spice Box: Spices for use Joanne Murphy Joanne Murphy

For today, why don’t you try the recipes below, you might surprise yourself when you sit down to some authentic Indian flavours this evening. Enjoy!


Jumbo prawns with mango and avocado salad

(Tandoori jhinga)

JUMBO PRAWNS Jumbo Prawns Joanne Murphy Joanne Murphy

Everyone loves prawns – we go through 25 kilograms of peeled and deveined prawns in a week at Pickle. These prawns are perfect for the barbecue, as keeping them in the shell stops the delicate meat from burning or overcooking, but they also work well cooked on a griddle pan on the hob. Keeping the shell on also improves the flavour and reduces the need for salt, as the shell naturally adds some briny flavour.

Serves 4
1. For the salad dressing:
50m rapeseed oil
zest and juice of ½ lime
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt

2. For the mango and avocado salad:
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled stoned and diced
40g rockets
handful of fresh coriander leaves
20g pumpkin seeds, toasted

3. For the second marinade:
16 raw jumbo prawns, unpeeled and butterflied (see below)
zest and juice of 1 lime
2–3 dried lime leaves thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coconut milk, for basting
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


Prep and measure out all the ingredients before you start cooking so that everything is ready to go and the spices don’t burn.

1. Start by whisking together all the salad dressing ingredients.
2. Put the mango, avocado and rocket into a large bowl, then drizzle over the dressing and toss gently to coat. Finish with the toasted pumpkin seeds and set aside.
3. To butterfly the prawns for this recipe, cut them in half lengthways from top to tail but without cutting all the way through the shell, then press them out flat.
Heat up a griddle pan over a high heat on the hob (it’s fine to use a regular frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan).

Put the prawns, lime zest, lime leaves, grated ginger, paprika, salt and oil in a large bowl and toss to coat.

Add the prawns to the hot pan, butterflied side down. Cook for 60–90 seconds on each side, then use a pastry brush to baste the prawns all over with the coconut milk and squeeze in the lime juice. Cook for 1–2 minutes more if necessary, just until the prawns are cooked through – the shell should be pink and the meat should be white and firm, but not tough or rubbery. Add the chopped fresh coriander at the very end.

To serve, divide the prawns between four plates, spoon over the sauce from the pan and serve with the mango and avocado salad on the side. 

Easy Butter Chicken (Punjabi Murgh Makhani)

image004 Butter Chicken Joanne Murphy Joanne Murphy

When people order butter chicken in my restaurants I presume that they know the dish has butter and cream in it, yet I once had a customer tell me he didn’t want any butter in his butter chicken. (I suggested he have a curry instead.) When I was doing my training in India, one of my first jobs was to melt 4 kilograms of unsalted butter so that the chef could use it to baste the chicken. This dish is meant to have plenty of fat and rich flavours. It’s our bestselling dish by far.

Serves 4
1. To marinate the chicken:
80g thick Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp grated or finely chopped ginger
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp fine sea salt
750g boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into large pieces (50g)

2. For basting:
large knob of butter, melted

3. For the sauce:
125g butter
1–2 fresh green chillies, halved lengthways
1 tbsp grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp grated or finely chopped garlic
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp cashew butter
1 x 700g jar of tomato passata
100ml cream

4. To serve:
plain boiled basmati rice (see page 000)
a few spoonfuls of thick Greek yoghurt
handful of chopped fresh coriander
naan (shop-bought or see page 000)


Measure out your spices into two separate bowls: one medium bowl for the paprika and salt for the marinade and one small bowl for the paprika and salt for the sauce.

Prep and measure out all the remaining ingredients before you start cooking so that
everything is ready to go and the spices don’t burn.

1. Put the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, paprika and salt in a medium bowl and mix to combine, then add the chicken pieces and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave out on the counter to marinate for 20–30 minutes while you make the sauce (or even better, let it marinate in the fridge overnight)

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Transfer the chicken to a baking tray and spread out the pieces in a single layer. Cook in the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes, until almost cooked through.

2. Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter, then set aside.

3. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the green chillies, ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in the paprika and salt and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the cashew butter.
Add the passata and stir to combine, then add the chicken, increase the heat to medium and simmer for 20–30 minutes, until the flavours have combined and the sauce has reduced a bit.

Add the cream and simmer for 1–2 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Remove and discard the green chilli halves. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the curry to settle for 5 minutes.

4. Ladle the curry into warmed bowls on top of plain boiled basmati rice. Add a spoonful of Greek yoghurt on top of each bowl and garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Serve with warm naan on the side. 

Sunil Ghai grew up in Gwalior in northern India. He completed his training as a chef at the prestigious five-star Oberoi hotel group in India before moving to Dublin in 2000. He opened his own restaurant, Pickle, in central Dublin in 2016. Pickle was an immediate sensation for its authentic home-style northern Indian food. In his first cookbook, Spice Box, Sunil shares his approach to making delicious Indian food at home with readily available ingredients. Sunil lives with his family in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Spice Box by Sunil Ghai is published by Penguin Sandycove (2023). Photography: © Joanne Murphy


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