Is Chicken Makhani The Same As Butter Chicken

Is Chicken Makhani the Same as Butter Chicken? Answered

Last Updated on July 18, 2024 by Shari Mason

The vast variety of savory Indian cuisine consistently sparks my curiosity, compelling me to delve into the details of various dishes.

So is Chicken Makhani the same as Butter Chicken?

At first glance, they may seem identical, but subtle differences exist. Stay with us as we unravel the mystery behind these delectable dishes.

Is Butter Chicken Similar To Chicken Makhani?

Chicken Makhani Dish

Butter Chicken bears similarities to Chicken Makhani in its creamy, tomato-rich gravy and possesses certain distinctive elements that set it apart—traditionally known as “Murgh Makhani.” 

Butter Chicken is often sweeter in flavor, sometimes attributed to adding honey, sugar, or fruits like fenugreek.

Furthermore, the proportion of tomatoes is typically more pronounced in Butter Chicken, lending it a slightly tangier undertone. 

“I can’t stay without butter chicken and butter naan. And I won’t complain if I get Dominos and Pizza Hut pizzas on my plate every day.”

– Sargun Mehta

While both dishes showcase a harmonious blend of spices, Butter Chicken’s seasoning may lean towards a milder, more universal appeal. 

What truly defines Chicken Makhani [1] is its luscious sauce: a velvety blend of tomatoes, butter, cream, and a symphony of spices.

The result is a tantalizingly rich and aromatic gravy with a subtle tanginess from the tomatoes, balanced by the creaminess of butter and cream. 


A Closer Look

FeatureChicken MakhaniButter Chicken
OriginNorthern India, especially PunjabOften attributed to Delhi
Base IngredientsChicken, tomatoes, butter, cream, spicesChicken, tomatoes, butter, cream, spices
Taste ProfileRich with a pronounced buttery flavorSlightly sweeter and tangier
Common SpicesGaram masala, cumin, coriander, cardamomGaram masala, cumin, coriander, fenugreek
ConsistencyCreamy, with a butter-heavy finishCreamy, but might be lighter with a more pronounced tomato essence
SweetnessSubtle, unless modified by specific recipesOften contains added honey or sugar for a sweeter undertone
Cultural AssociationClosely linked with Punjabi kitchensFrequently associated with North Indian and Delhi cuisines

Are The Spices Used Differently?

In the aromatic world of Indian cuisine, Chicken Makhani and Butter Chicken employ a medley of spices that form the foundation of their rich flavors.

Common ingredients like garam masala, cumin, coriander, and turmeric often grace both dishes. 

However, the blend, proportion, and even the inclusion of certain unique spices can vary based on regional influences, family recipes, and individual chefs’ touches. 

For instance, some Butter Chicken recipes might favor fenugreek (methi) more heavily, imparting a characteristic sweetness, while a Chicken Makhani might have a more robust hint of cardamom or cloves. 

Although the core spices might overlap, these subtle variations and nuances lend each dish its distinct identity and depth.

Which Dish Is Richer, Butter Chicken Or Chicken Makhani?

Bowl of Butter Chicken

When gauging richness in culinary terms, Chicken Makhani and Butter Chicken stand out as indulgent delicacies bathed in creamy gravies that celebrate butter and cream. 

However, Chicken Makhani, true to its name with “Makhan,” meaning butter in Hindi, often tends to have a slightly heavier hand with butter [2], leading to a richer, butterier finish in its sauce. 

“Chicken Makhani and Butter Chicken: two dishes, one heart, yet each sings its flavorful song.”

– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

Conversely, while creamy and luxurious, Butter Chicken might lean more towards the tomato essence, often balanced with additional sweetening agents.

This can lead to a slightly lighter consistency than the opulent butter-forward Makhani. 

Yet, it’s essential to remember that individual recipes, chefs, and regional variations can play significant roles in determining the richness of a particular preparation, making each dish a unique experience in its own right.

Which One Is More Authentic?

The term “authenticity” in the culinary realm is complex and rooted deeply in regional traditions, histories, and personal experiences.

Chicken Makhani and Butter Chicken have genuine claims to authenticity within the vast landscape of Indian cuisine. 

Chicken Makhani, with its butter-infused legacy, traces its roots to the Punjabi kitchens, while Butter Chicken has its tales of creation, often linked to the vibrant streets of Delhi. 

It’s not a matter of one being more authentic than the other; instead, it’s about recognizing that each dish embodies its rich heritage and story. 

Authenticity, in this context, is not a competition but a celebration of the diverse and storied culinary traditions that India brings to the global table.

Read: How Did Cracker Barrel Come Up With Its Name?


u003cstrongu003eWhat curry is most similar to butter chicken?u003c/strongu003e

The curry most similar to Butter Chicken is Chicken Tikka Masala.

u003cstrongu003eWhat is Makhani sauce made of?u003c/strongu003e

Makhani sauce is made of tomatoes, butter, cream, and spices.

Final Thoughts

While Chicken Makhani and Butter Chicken revel in creamy, tomato-based gravies and have overlapping origins in North Indian cuisine, they are not entirely the same. 

Subtle differences in preparation, flavor profiles, and ingredients make each dish distinct. Chicken Makhani typically emphasizes the richness of butter, while Butter Chicken might lean towards a sweeter and tangier taste. 

Appreciating both dishes requires understanding these nuances and celebrating the diversity they bring to Indian culinary traditions.


Shari Mason

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