Butter Chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes and is renowned for its creamy texture and unique flavor. It’s a delicacy that has become well-known around the world, with many people wanting to know what does butter chicken taste like?
This article will provide an in-depth exploration into what makes this dish so special, from its ingredients to how it’s cooked.
Table of Contents
Butter Chicken Overview
Butter chicken, also known as Makhani Murgh, is a North Indian dish that consists of marinated chicken pieces in a creamy tomato and butter sauce. The base of the sauce is what lends this dish its signature flavor and texture. It’s made with cream, tomatoes, spices, and of course, butter.
The marinade for the chicken is what gives it its unique taste. Typically, it uses yogurt to tenderize the meat along with garam masala and other spices like ginger garlic paste, coriander powder and cumin powder.
Origins: India & Pakistan
Butter chicken is believed to have originated in the Northwest regions of what is now India and Pakistan. It was created by an Indian chef in 1947, shortly after India’s independence from Britain, who wanted to create something special for his customers using what he had on hand.
The dish quickly gained popularity throughout the region, becoming a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Today it can be found all over India and in many restaurants around the world. From its humble beginnings as a regional delicacy, this now beloved dish has achieved global renown. Butter chicken has swept the world in a wave of flavor, with its presence seen from South Asia to Europe and North America. From fine dining establishments to casual eateries, people can now savor what butter chicken tastes like no matter where they are!
Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala
Butter chicken and tikka masala are two similar dishes that have both achieved worldwide popularity. Though the two dishes share similarities, the main difference between these two dishes is the base for their sauces.
Butter chicken uses a richer, creamier sauce made from butter, cream and tomatoes, while tikka masala typically uses ghee. Ghee is a clarified butter that is often used in Indian cooking, and it produces a slightly different flavor than the creamy sauce found in butter chicken.
Flavor Base: What Makes Butter Chicken?
The flavors of butter chicken come from its rich and creamy base. The tomatoes add a sweet tanginess to the dish, while the butter adds richness and depth. The spices like garam masala, ginger garlic paste, coriander powder and cumin powder all contribute their unique flavors as well.
Garam masala is an Indian spice blend made from a combination of cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. It adds warmth and depth to the dish while also providing a subtle sweetness.
Ginger garlic paste is what gives butter chicken its savory flavor. The combination of ground ginger and garlic creates a strong umami flavor that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients.
Coriander powder and cumin powder contribute their own unique flavors as well. Coriander has a sweet lemony taste while cumin is earthy and smoky. Together they provide an unforgettable base for this classic Indian dish.
Cumin and chili powder are used to balance the sweetness of the tomato and add a bit of heat. The amount used is what gives this dish its unique flavor profile and can be adjusted according to taste.
Complexity: Spices & Herbs
In addition to what makes the base, there are several other spices and herbs that can be added to make butter chicken even more flavorful.
Bay leaves, for example, are what give this dish its distinctive aroma and can be used either fresh or dried.
Turmeric, which has a mild flavor with earthy undertones, is often used for its color as well as its taste. Other spices like fenugreek leaves, asafoetida, and green chili can also be added to give the dish a unique flavor profile.
Cilantro is another herb that lends a unique flavor to butter chicken. Its bright and earthy taste adds complexity to the sauce and pairs particularly well with the creamy base.
Cardamom is also commonly used in this dish. Its sweet and smoky flavor adds a unique aroma to the dish and can be used either whole or ground.
Mint is another herb that is often used in butter chicken. It provides a freshness that balances out the richness of the tomato sauce and makes for an overall more pleasant eating experience.
Texture: Creamy Sauce, Tender and Juicy Meat
The texture of butter chicken is what truly sets it apart from other dishes. The sauce is thick and creamy, coating the chicken pieces in a luxurious coating. It’s what makes this dish so comforting and satisfying.
Sauce: Tomato, Cream, Unsalted Butter
The sauce is what gives butter chicken its creamy and rich texture. The sauce for this dish is incredibly creamy, thanks to the combination of tomatoes, cream, and unsalted butter. The tomatoes are what adds the tangy sweetness, while the cream and butter provide richness and depth.
These ingredients create a velvety-smooth sauce that coats the chicken pieces with an intense burst of flavor in each and every bite.
Meat: Chicken Pieces Marinated in Yogurt & Spices
The meat used in butter chicken is usually boneless and skinless chicken pieces that have been marinated in yogurt and a blend of spices.
The yogurt helps to tenderize the chicken while the spices infuse it with flavor. After being cooked, the chicken pieces become incredibly juicy and tender, providing an amazing contrast to the creamy sauce.
What Kind of Chicken is The Best for Cooking?
Crafting the perfect butter chicken requires top-tier ingredients. For a flavorful dish, select only succulent and tender chicken breasts or thighs that are free-range for maximum juiciness and taste. Utilizing these high quality components will ensure an exquisite dinner every time!
How to Cook Butter Chicken
- Cooking butter chicken is a relatively straightforward process. Begin by marinating the chicken pieces in yogurt and spices for at least 30 minutes or overnight. This will infuse the chicken with flavor and help tenderize it.
- In addition to marinating the chicken, it’s important to simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes before adding the chicken pieces. Simmering the sauce will help to bring out all the flavors and allow them to meld together.
- Then, sauté your onion and garlic in a skillet for about five minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices to the skillet and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Lastly, add your marinated chicken pieces and simmer until cooked through.
For a truly authentic experience, butter chicken is best cooked in a traditional tandoor oven. The intense heat of the tandoor helps to impart an unmistakable smoky flavor to the dish that can’t be attained any other way. Put the butter chicken pieces in the tandoor and cook in batches until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
If a tandoor oven isn’t available, butter chicken can also be cooked on the stovetop or in a conventional oven. The cooking time will vary depending on what method you use, but the end result should be tender and juicy chicken pieces that are immersed in a delicious cream sauce.
Serving: Best Enjoyed with Naan Bread or Rice
Butter chicken is best served with naan bread or rice for soaking up all that delicious sauce! It’s also delicious served with chapati and other Indian flatbreads.
Naan Bread is a popular oven-baked flatbread and provides the perfect vehicle for scooping up the creamy sauce. Rice is also an excellent accompaniment, as it absorbs all the wonderful flavors of this dish. Both options provide the perfect accompaniment for this delectable dish; however, some people prefer to eat it with naan as it helps to balance out the richness of the sauce.
For a truly indulgent experience, consider serving butter chicken alongside other classic Indian dishes such as biryani, dal makhani, or saag paneer. Biryani is a rice dish made with fragrant spices and layered with chicken or vegetables. Dal makhani is a lentil-based curry that is simmered in tomato gravy, while saag paneer features spinach and cubes of paneer cheese. All three dishes pair wonderfully with butter chicken and make for an unforgettable meal!
Variations: Adding Vegetables and Other Ingredients
Butter chicken can also be made with vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and bell peppers. These add a touch of freshness to the dish and make it more healthy. Coconut milk is another ingredient that can be used in place of cream for a lighter version. Some people also like to add mango pulp or diced pineapple to give the dish a sweet and tangy flavor.
Experience: What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like?
Now that you know what goes into making butter chicken, it’s time to experience what butter chicken tastes like? This dish has its own unique flavor that sets it apart from other Indian curries. When you take your first bite, you’ll be greeted with a savory, creamy sauce that melts in your mouth. The flavors from the garam masala and other spices come through but are balanced out nicely by the sweetness of the cream and butter.
The combination of tomato-based sauce, creamy unsalted butter and marinated chicken pieces creates a dish that is both comforting and indulgent. The smokiness of the tandoor oven adds an irresistible depth to the flavor. The succulent chicken pieces also add to the overall taste, as they absorb all the wonderful spices and provide yet another layer of flavor.
Q: What is the best way to serve butter chicken?
A: Butter chicken is best served with naan bread or rice for soaking up all that delicious sauce! It’s also delicious served with chapati and other Indian flatbreads. For a truly indulgent experience, consider serving butter chicken alongside other classic Indian dishes such as biryani, dal makhani, or saag paneer.
Q: Is butter chicken healthy to eat?
A: Butter chicken can be made healthier by using coconut milk instead of cream, as well as adding in vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and bell peppers. It is still a rich dish that contains a good amount of fat, so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation.
Q: Does butter chicken freeze well?
A: Yes! Butter chicken freezes very well and can last up to 3 months in the freezer when stored properly. Allow the curry to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and then place into the freezer. To reheat, simply thaw overnight and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through. Enjoy your delicious frozen butter chicken whenever you like
Conclusion: Every Bite is Heavenly!
At the end of the day, what does butter chicken taste like? Nothing short of heavenly! Every bite of this succulent dish is packed with flavors and textures that make it undeniably delicious. The silky cream sauce and tender chicken pieces combine to create a symphony of flavors that you simply can’t get enough of.
Whether you serve it with naan bread or rice, butter chicken is sure to become a family favorite! So what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and start cooking up something special today! Enjoy your meal and savor every heavenly bite of this classic dish!