Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Shari Mason
Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a popular Indian dish for its rich and creamy flavor.
It is made with tender chicken pieces cooked in a flavorful tomato-based sauce, seasoned with a blend of spices, and finished with a generous amount of butter.
If you’re new to Indian cuisine and wondering what butter chicken tastes like, this article is for you.
Here, we will look closely at the flavors and ingredients that make this dish so delicious and some variations you may have.
What Are The Main Flavors Of Butter Chicken?
Butter chicken  is rich and creamy, with a balance of sweet and tangy from the tomato-based sauce and a subtle heat from the spices used in the dish.
The butter and cream add richness to the dish, balanced by the acidity of the tomatoes.
“Everything tastes better with butter. Meat that has fat in it is tender in a certain way, flavorful in a certain way. It’s hard to deny the flavor quotient there.”– Alice Waters, Chef
The spices used in the dish typically include cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and garam masala, which give the dish a warm and aromatic flavor.
Other ingredients commonly used in the dish include yogurt, lemon juice, and cashews or almonds, which can give a nutty flavor. The dish is usually garnished with fresh coriander leaves and fresh cream.
How Is It Traditionally Made?
Butter chicken is traditionally made by marinating chicken pieces in a mixture of yogurt, spices, and lemon juice. This marinade helps to tenderize the chicken and infuse it with flavor.
The chicken is then cooked in a tomato-based sauce, which is made by blending tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and various spices. The sauce is simmered with butter and cream to create a rich and creamy texture.
Once the chicken is cooked through, and the sauce is thickened, it is served with the sauce poured over it and garnished with fresh coriander leaves and fresh cream.
Some variations of the recipe may include roasting or grilling the marinated chicken before adding it to the sauce or adding cashews or almonds to the sauce for added texture.
The dish is served with rice or naan bread to soak up the sauce.
Some Variations Of Butter Chicken
- Chicken Tikka Masala : This variation is made by marinating the chicken in a yogurt and spice mixture, then grilling or broiling it before adding it to the tomato-based sauce.
- Mughlai Butter Chicken: This version is made with a sweeter and richer sauce that includes cashews, cream, and a variety of spices.
- Punjabi Butter Chicken: This version is a bit spicier than the traditional recipe and may include red chilies and a higher ratio of butter and cream.
- Keto Butter Chicken: This variation is a low-carb version of the dish, which can be made by using coconut cream instead of regular cream and swapping the traditional tomato sauce with a tomato puree.
- Seafood Butter Chicken: This version replaces chicken with seafood such as prawns, scallops, or fish.
- Vegan Butter Chicken: This version is made by replacing chicken with vegetables, such as cauliflower, tofu, or mushrooms, and using plant-based alternatives to butter and cream.
What Are Some Common Side Dishes For Butter Chicken?
- Basmati Rice: Basmati rice is a long-grain rice typically used in Indian cuisine. It is a fragrant, fluffy, and non-sticky rice that is perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce of the butter chicken.
- Naan Bread: Naan bread is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread typically served with Indian dishes. It is perfect for scooping up the sauce and is a great complement to the flavors of the butter chicken.
- Roti: Roti is an unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour. It is perfect for scooping up the sauce and is a great complement to the flavors of the butter chicken.
- Dal: Dal is a lentil-based dish typically served with Indian meals. It is a great source of protein and is a great complement to the flavors of butter chicken.
- Raita: Raita is a yogurt-based side dish typically served with Indian meals. It is seasoned with cumin, mint, and other spices and is a great complement to the flavors of the butter chicken.
- Chutneys: Chutneys are a type of condiment typically served with Indian meals. They can be sweet, spicy, or sour and are a great complement to the flavors of butter chicken.
Does butter chicken taste like tomato?
Butter chicken does have a tomato-based sauce, which gives it a slight tomato flavor.
The sauce is made by blending tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and various spices that give it a sweet and tangy taste.
Is butter chicken supposed to taste sweet?
Butter chicken is not necessarily supposed to taste sweet, but it can have a balance of sweet and tangy flavors depending on the recipe and the number of tomatoes used in the sauce.
How is butter chicken different from curry?
Butter chicken is a specific dish made with chicken and has a creamy, rich, and slightly sweet tomato-based sauce. At the same time, curry is a general term that describes a wide variety of dishes characterized by a sauce made from a combination of spices, herbs, and other ingredients.
Butter chicken has a balance of sweet and tangy flavors from the tomato-based sauce and a subtle heat from the spices used. The richness of the cream and butter balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
The recipe and flavor profile of the dish can vary depending on the cook, the region, and the ingredients used. It is served with rice, naan bread, or roti as side dishes.
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