chicken makhani vs chicken tikka masala

Chicken Makhani vs Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken makhani vs chicken tikka masala; what’s the difference? The most notable difference is the flavor profile. One gets its taste from spices and yogurt, while the other is made with butter and cream. 

This article will explore everything you need to know about these popular Indian cuisine dishes, including the similarities and differences between butter chicken (the common name for chicken makhani) and chicken tikka masala as well as a brief overview of their history. 

Chicken makhani vs tikka masala; let’s find out everything you need to know. 

Is chicken makhani similar to chicken tikka masala?

Both non-vegan chicken dishes use the cream as one of the most important ingredients. They’re Indian dishes sometimes served with basmati rice that have a wide consumer base globally. Indian restaurants outside of India usually use the two terms’ chicken makhani’ and ‘tikka masala’ interchangeably. 

So if you find yourself at one of these restaurants, there is a good chance you’ll get some version of chicken tikka masala even if you order chicken makhani. At best, it will be less spicy and may have some cream in it. 

What is the difference between chicken makhani and chicken tikka masala?

Chicken Makhani gets its flavor from the butter and kasoori methi (herbs)

Let’s start off with the chicken makhani vs chicken tikka masala comparison with a fun fact about chicken makhani. 

Chicken makhani is often referred to as Butter Chicken. This creamy tomato-based curry is one of the most popular Indian dishes globally. It’s made with cashew nuts, some aromatics, tomatoes, and heavy cream. 

Chicken makhani uses a lot of butter. This ingredient paired with a herbal kasoori methi finish gives it its distinctive flavor. Watch this video to learn how to prepare chicken makhani. 

Tikka masala is spicier and made with boneless tikka meat

Tikka masala refers to boneless pieces of chicken served in a somewhat sweet and yet tangy gravy. It is usually quite spicy, although you can ask your cook to moderate the spice level if you want. 

Chicken tikka masala is hearty, creamy, and packed with flavor. Take a look at this video to learn how to make your very own. In a chicken makhani vs chicken tikka masala comparison piece, it is crucial to have such insight into the food. 

Here is also another comparison that’s worth a look: chicken tikka masala vs tandoori chicken.

Tikka masala always uses boneless chicken pieces

Chicken tikka refers to boneless chicken pieces marinated in a mixture of spices. Masala refers to the gravy these chicken pieces are served in. So this dish always uses boneless meat. 

A lot of people prefer chicken tikka masala for the sole reason that it is easier to eat.

Traditional tandoori chicken, like chicken makhani, uses pieces of chicken with bones. However, a lot of variations have come up. Some restaurants in and outside of India have begun making this dish with boneless meat. 

In places where chicken tikka masala and chicken makhani are terms used interchangeably, both dishes are made with boneless meat. 

Chicken Tikka Masala: A British Innovation

The origins of chicken tikka masala can be traced to an Indian restaurant in Scotland. In the 1970s, a customer was served chicken tikka and sent it back to the kitchen, complaining about how dry it was. They wanted gravy in their dish. 

This is when chicken tikka masala was born. It’s quite interesting how this adaptation opened the doors for Indian food to be accepted and praised globally. Because once this happened, there was an increase in demand for chicken tikka masala, and it became popular internationally. 

So if you want to learn more about chicken tikka vs chicken tikka masala, the first thing you need to know is that one originated from the other. 

Butter Chicken: An Indian Creation

Butter chicken comes from India’s Moti Mahal. One could argue that this restaurant is among the handful of places where you can get proper butter chicken as most other places don’t understand the difference between it and tikka masala. 

So getting your hands on authentic butter chicken can be a little difficult outside of India. 

What is spicier: chicken tikka masala or chicken makhani?

In a chicken makhani vs chicken tikka masala comparison, chicken tikka is spicier than butter chicken. It has more spices that have strong bitter flavors. It also uses more garam masala and chili powder. The strong use of butter also makes chicken makhani less spicy than chicken tikka masala. 

Chicken makhani or butter chicken masala has cinnamon powder which is usually described as sweet wood. It has a warm and sweet flavor. On the other hand, chicken tikka masala has cardamom, which has a more citrusy flavor profile than sweet. 

Read up on chicken makhanwala vs tikka masala if you’re interested in learning more about chicken recipes made with butter and how they compare to tikka masala. A murgh makhani vs chicken tikka masala or comparison would also give you more insight into this niche. 

What you need to make chicken tikka masala

For those who want to make their own chicken tikka masala, you’ll need to get your hands on quite a few ingredients. You can find most of them at your nearest convenience store. However, you will need to go to a grocery store with an extensive spice collection for some. 

The ingredient list

Chicken tikka masala usually has the following:

  • Chicken breast pieces
  • Tikka paste 
  • Yogurt 
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Ginger and garlic paste (separately or combined)
  • Cream
  • Cashews
  • Onion
  • Tomato (tomato puree or tomato paste can also be used)

The spices you’ll need include

  • Coriander
  • Chili powder
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric 
  • Cumin 
  • Salt
  • Garam Masala
  • Black pepper

What you need to make butter chicken

As with chicken tikka, you can get most of the non-spice ingredients for butter chicken masala from just about any convenience store. You’ll need to go to a bigger department store for the rest. 

The ingredient list

Traditional butter chicken recipes use:

  • Chicken 
  • Curd
  • Almonds 
  • Bay leaves
  • Ginger and garlic paste or pulp (combined or separate)
  • Tomato 
  • Onion 
  • Fresh cream 
  • Butter 

The spices you’ll need to include

  • Cinnamon 
  • Cloves
  • Green cardamom 
  • Fresh coriander
  • Chili powder
  • Garam masala powder
  • Salt 
  • Black pepper

If you’re more inclined towards the spicy tikka masala, you’ll want to know more about chicken makhani too. This dish is among the best Indian curries. It has a similar flavor profile to tikka masala and so is a big favorite among people who like it.

Read our article on makhani vs tikka masala if you’re interested. 

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