Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala: The Differences, Delicious Recipes and Tips

In the realm of Indian cuisine, two titans of taste and flavor stand tall, each with its unique blend of spices, creamy textures, and tantalizing aromas. Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala are both celebrated dishes that have captured the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.

Yet, beneath their creamy veneers lies a distinct culinary journey that traces back to the rich heritage of Indian cooking. Here is the differences between Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala.

Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala

Origins and Evolution

Butter Chicken:
Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, boasts a legendary origin story. It is said to have been created in the kitchens of Moti Mahal, a renowned restaurant in Delhi, during the 1950s. The dish was born from the ingenious idea of combining tandoori-roasted chicken with a velvety tomato-based gravy. The result was a harmonious symphony of smoky char, creamy butter, and rich spices.

Tikka Masala:
Tikka Masala’s roots are somewhat disputed, with various claims to its invention. Some theories suggest that it emerged in the UK, while others trace it back to India. Regardless of its origin, Tikka Masala revolves around marinated and grilled chicken pieces, known as “tikkas,” immersed in a spiced tomato and cream sauce. This dish exemplifies the blend of Indian and British culinary influences, a testament to the diverse tapestry of flavors.

Ingredients and Preparation

Butter Chicken:
The hallmark of Butter Chicken lies in its buttery and mildly spiced tomato gravy. Tender pieces of tandoori chicken are submerged in a velvety blend of tomato puree, cream, and spices like garam masala, fenugreek leaves, and cumin.

The tomato imparts a tangy sweetness that contrasts with the richness of cream and butter. The dish is typically served with naan or rice, allowing the perfect vessel to soak up the luscious sauce.

Tikka Masala:
Tikka Masala’s preparation involves marinating chicken pieces in a mixture of yogurt and spices, which can include coriander, cumin, paprika, and turmeric. The marinated chicken is then traditionally grilled in a tandoor oven for a smoky flavor.

The sauce, a luxurious blend of tomatoes, cream, and spices, is where Tikka Masala’s distinct taste profile shines. The marriage of spices with the creaminess of the sauce creates a comforting yet vibrant flavor experience.

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Flavor Profiles

Butter Chicken:
The flavor of Butter Chicken is characterized by its creamy, tomato-based sauce. The richness of the butter and cream harmonizes with the tangy sweetness of the tomatoes, creating a balanced and comforting taste. The spices, while present, are often more subdued, allowing the creamy texture to take center stage. The dish offers a mild heat that is accessible to a wide range of palates.

Tikka Masala:
Tikka Masala showcases a bolder flavor profile, with the marinated chicken imparting a smokiness that complements the robustness of the spiced tomato cream sauce. The spices in the marinade and the sauce intermingle to provide layers of depth, creating a more pronounced and vibrant taste. The dish can vary in heat, depending on the choice and amount of spices used, making it adaptable to different spice preferences.

Cultural Impact and Popularity

Both Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala have gained international acclaim, finding their way onto menus in Indian restaurants worldwide. Their creamy textures and alluring aromas have contributed to their popularity among a diverse range of diners. These dishes have become ambassadors of Indian cuisine, introducing people to the vast array of flavors the country has to offer.

Those are the 4 differences of Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala, now let’s try to cook these two tasty dishes with these recipes:

Creamy and Flavorful Butter Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 1 lb (450g) boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • Salt, to taste

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cashew paste (soaked cashews blended with water)
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
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Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and ensure they are well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the marinated chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You can also grill the chicken on skewers for a smoky flavor.
  3. In a large pan, melt the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste to the pan and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  5. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, and red chili powder to the pan. Cook for a minute to release the flavors of the spices.
  6. Pour in the tomato puree and cook for 5-7 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the sauce.
  7. Stir in the cashew paste and heavy cream. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it thickens.
  8. Crush the dried fenugreek leaves between your palms and add them to the sauce. Season with salt according to taste.
  9. Gently add the baked or grilled chicken pieces to the sauce. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  10. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the Butter Chicken before serving.
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Tips for the Perfect Butter Chicken

  1. Marination Magic: Marinating the chicken not only infuses it with flavor but also helps to tenderize the meat. The longer you marinate (ideally overnight), the better the results.
  2. Tandoor Alternatives: If you don’t have a tandoor or oven, you can cook the marinated chicken on a stovetop grill or in a pan until it’s cooked through.
  3. Tomato Puree: For a smoother sauce, use store-bought tomato puree or make your own by blending fresh tomatoes.
  4. Creamy Consistency: Adjust the amount of cream and cashew paste to achieve your desired level of creaminess. If you prefer a lighter version, you can use milk instead of cream.
  5. Balance Spices: Adjust the red chili powder according to your spice preference. If you like it milder, reduce the amount or omit it.
  6. Fenugreek Finesse: Dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) add a distinctive aroma to the dish. Be sure not to skip this ingredient if possible.
  7. Serve with Love: Butter Chicken pairs wonderfully with naan, rice, or even roti. Garnish with cilantro for a burst of freshness.

Indulge in the rich and comforting flavors of homemade Butter Chicken, a dish that promises to delight your taste buds with every creamy and aromatic bite.

Tantalizing Tikka Masala Recipe

Ingredients

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 lb (450g) boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • Salt, to taste

For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
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Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken pieces, ensuring they are well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the marinated chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You can also grill the chicken on skewers for a smoky flavor.
  3. In a large pan, melt the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste to the pan and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  5. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, turmeric, and red chili powder to the pan. Cook for a minute to release the flavors of the spices.
  6. Pour in the tomato puree and cook for 5-7 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the sauce.
  7. Stir in the heavy cream and garam masala. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes until it thickens.
  8. Gently add the baked or grilled chicken pieces to the sauce. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  9. Season the Tikka Masala sauce with salt according to taste.
  10. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

Tips for the Perfect Tikka Masala

  1. Marination Matters: Just like with Butter Chicken, marinating the chicken is key to infusing it with flavor and tenderness. Overnight marination is recommended for the best results.
  2. Grill or Bake: Whether you grill the marinated chicken on skewers or bake it in the oven, you’ll achieve the signature smokiness that makes Tikka Masala special.
  3. Tomato Puree: Use quality tomato puree or make your own by blending fresh tomatoes. The tomato base is crucial to the sauce’s rich color and flavor.
  4. Cream Consistency: Like in Butter Chicken, you can adjust the amount of cream to suit your preference. For a lighter version, you can use milk instead of heavy cream.
  5. Spice Levels: Control the heat by adjusting the red chili powder. You can also add a touch of sweetness with a pinch of sugar or honey.
  6. Garam Masala Finish: Adding garam masala towards the end of cooking enhances the dish’s aromatic depth without losing its fragrant qualities.
  7. Serve Stylishly: Tikka Masala is delicious with naan, rice, or roti. Top with cilantro to infuse a burst of freshness.

Embrace the vibrant and aromatic world of Tikka Masala as you enjoy its flavorsome blend of marinated chicken and luscious spiced tomato cream sauce. This dish promises a culinary journey that captivates your taste buds from the very first bite.

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Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala: While Butter Chicken revels in its mellow, creamy elegance, Tikka Masala boasts a more vibrant and complex flavor profile. Each dish is a testament to the art of blending spices and textures to create an unforgettable culinary experience.

So whether you find yourself indulging in the luxurious embrace of buttery tomato goodness or savoring the smoky complexity of spiced tikka, both Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken showcase the rich heritage of Indian cooking in their own unique ways.

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