Do you want to eat an Indian dish at your local Indian restaurant? Or do you have difficulty figuring out the difference between these two dishes your friends can’t stop talking about?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Generally, the main difference between these two dishes lies in their texture (level of creaminess) and preparation method. Below you’ll find differences and similarities of butter chicken and tikka masala explained in detail.
I hope you’re ready for our Butter chicken vs. Tikka masala battle!
• How is Butter Chicken made?
Butter chicken or murgh makhani is a dish from India made from pieces of chicken marinated in spices (chili powder, fenugreek) and yogurt, cooked in butter or ghee, and simmered with tomatoes and onions.
• How is Butter Chicken served?
Butter chicken is often served with Basmati rice or naan bread. A dish can include tandoori chicken, mild curry and basmati rice, and steamed vegetables.
• The origin story of Butter Chicken
“Butter chicken, or murgh makhani, known in India, originates from Punjab. The story goes that a Punjabi chef living in New Delhi was experimenting with butter-fried chicken and came up with something so delicious he decided to give it a name: murgh makhani, or buttery chicken.” (1)
• How is Tikka Masala made?
Tikka masala is a dish from India that is traditionally made with chunks of meat, onion, garlic, ginger, and tomato puree. The sauce is typically spiced with garam masala, cayenne pepper, or paprika.
• How is Tikka Masala served?
Tikka masala is typically served with steamed Basmati rice and some warm naan bread. Tandoori cauliflower or roasted broccoli can also be served with this meal.
• The origin story of Tikka Masala
The word “tikka” means “bits” in Hindi and Urdu. Masala refers to the spices used in the dish.
“The dish’s origins are debated. Some believe that it was invented in the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef in Glasgow, Scotland, who, in order to please a customer, added a mild tomato-cream sauce to his chicken tikka, which is pieces of boneless chicken marinated in yogurt and curry spices and served on a skewer, kebab-style.
More likely, it derived from butter chicken, a popular dish in northern India. Some observers have called chicken tikka masala the first widely accepted example of fusion cuisine.” (2)
Butter Chicken Vs Tikka Masala: 7 Differences
Even though butter chicken and tikka masala are both chicken recipes, there are still lots of differences between them. The difference between tikka masala and butter chicken can be seen in the ingredients used, their tastes, and how they’re cooked:
1. Preparation method
When it comes to butter chicken vs. tikka masala, the preparation method of each dish is what makes them different.
Tikka masala is a dish prepared with a tomato-based sauce, whereas butter chicken is prepared with a creamy tomato sauce. Butter chicken chunks are fried, whereas in tikka masala you skewer and bake the chicken in a tandoor oven.
Butter chicken sauce is of light orange-brown color, whereas chicken tikka masala sauce is richer and redder. The color of each dish is a result of the spices used in it, such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, and chili.
They are mixed with yogurt or cream to make a paste that is then added to the dish.
Tikka masala has a lot of spices, but it doesn’t contain any sugar. Butter chicken has a lot of sugar in it, which makes it sweeter than tikka masala.
Therefore, another difference between tikka masala and butter chicken is sweetness, which is contributed both by the ghee, chili peppers, and heavy cream. You can also use milk as a substitute for heavy cream in some cases.
Tikka masala is a much spicier dish than butter chicken.
Tikka masala is made with a tomato-based sauce, yogurt, and spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper.
Butter chicken is made with a tomato-based sauce, butter or ghee (clarified butter), chili powder, sugar, and other ingredients.
Another difference between these two dishes lies in the presentation.
Tikka masala is usually served in a bowl with a tomato-based sauce, whereas butter chicken is served in a bowl with a creamy orange sauce.
Your taste buds may not know the color difference between these two dishes. However, they sure know the difference between a creamy curry paste with a small tomato intensity and a butter-marinated chicken.
The tikka masala dish has a thicker sauce with creamier consistency and chunks of vegetables in it. The butter chicken is more watery with larger chunks of meat cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
Even though chicken tikka masala and butter chicken are similar dishes, they taste differently.
Tikka masala often has tomato as the main ingredient, while butter chicken does not. Tikka masala is also usually spicier than butter chicken because it uses more chili peppers than butter chicken does.
Butter Chicken Vs Tikka Masala: 3 Similarities
Despite their differences, butter chicken and tikka masala also have a few similarities:
The similarity between tikka masala and butter chicken can be seen in the ingredients used to make both dishes. They both have chicken meat as their base, using marinated chicken thighs, chicken chunks, or chicken breasts.
Both dishes consist of chunks of meat cooked in a tomato sauce with different spices. However, tikka masala does not have butter, whereas butter chicken does, still making them both extra healthy.
3. Origin (debatable)
Both butter chicken and tikka masala recipes have Indian origins. The origin story of butter chicken is clear, whereas the origin story of tikka masala is debatable (see their origin stories above).
Tikka masala is much spicier than butter chicken, whereas butter chicken has a more watery texture. The main similarity lies in the fact that both dishes have marinated chicken meat as their base.
I hope you enjoyed our Butter chicken vs. Tikka masala battle!