Top Facts About Paneer Makhani vs Butter Chicken

Top 11 Facts About Paneer Makhani vs Butter Chicken

Do you love Indian food as much as we do? Then you have come to the right place. Since Indian food is made with a lot of love and loads of spices, it may seem overwhelming to understand what goes into making your favorite Indian dishes.

Indian restaurants might not tell you their secret ingredients, but this article will tell you all you need to know about paneer makhani vs butter chicken. Let’s begin with how these delicious dishes were first made. 

1. When Are These Dishes Traditionally Eaten

  • Paneer Makhani and butter chicken are among the all-time favorite dishes in Indian cuisine and a very important part of India’s culinary history.
  • They are very popular at Indian weddings, in restaurants, and during festivals like Diwali.
  • Butter chicken and paneer makhani are the most ordered dishes. 
  • Traditionally, they are both North-Indian dishes but are eaten not only throughout the Indian subcontinent but loved across the world.

2. Paneer Makhani vs Butter Chicken: A Comparison

FeaturesPaneer MakhaniButter Chicken
Main IngredientPieces of paneerPieces of chicken (bone-in or boneless)
GravyCreamy gravy made with pureed tomatoes mixed with spicesSmooth, creamy gravy with pureed tomatoes mixed with spices
Cooked InButterButter
Specific CuisineVegetarian, contains gluten and nutsNon-Vegetarian, contains meat, gluten, and nuts
Spice LevelMedium HeatMedium Heat

In love with Paneer Makhani and Butter Chicken yet? If not, then these fun facts will surely sway you towards the buttery gravy and melt-in mouth pieces that these dishes have to offer. 

3. Butter Chicken Was An Accidental Invention

Yes! You heard that right. A Delhi-based Indian man named Kundan Lal Gujral operated a small restaurant called Moti Mahal. Once when there was just too much leftover from a batch of tandoori chicken (slow-grilled chicken), Kundan Lal decided to randomly pop it all into a tomato-based gravy that was cooked in butter. 

Lo and behold! The resultant curry was so successful that various variants later, paneer makhani, made its appearance in the Indian cuisine. 

4. Paneer Makhani vs Butter Chicken: 1 Unique Ingredient

Paneer Makhani is often called the vegetarian version of butter chicken as they are made in an identical manner with the same gravy. The only significant difference is the addition of either paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or chicken pieces into the prepared gravy. Both the paneer and the chicken is marinated using similar ingredients.

5.  They Have The Same Name

Confused? Makhan is the Hindi (Indian language) word for butter. Thus, both the dishes are made in butter and have the same gravy or curry base. 

Another fun fact is that Paneer makhani is popularly known as paneer butter masala, while butter chicken is often called murgh makhani, where murgh stands for chicken. But you may discover some surprising details about paneer makhani vs paneer butter masala

Due to the similar ingredients used like garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves, tomato paste, cardamom pods, and heavy cream, the taste, and smell of both dishes are identical.

6. They Can Be Eaten Both With Rice and Indian Bread

Combinations are very important when it comes to having a complete and satisfactory meal. Not all things that are yummy separately can be eaten together. But due to the similarity in the gravy consistency and taste in the battle between paneer makhani vs butter chicken, they go equally well with any accompaniments.

Thus, you can eat either creamy curry with basmati rice, steamed rice, jeera rice, or ghee rice. They taste equally amazing with roti paratha, garlic naan, or plain naans, and you can even experiment a little and try it with English bread. 

7. The Gravy is Made with Similar Ingredients

Don’t believe us? Check out the ingredient list in this recipe card. You can easily find all these items at your local Indian grocer. This same base can be used to make both dishes. 

  • Fresh tomatoes- pureed
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon garam masala powder 
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Garlic cloves and 1 inch ginger- blended to form ginger-garlic paste
  • Bay leaf
  • Kasturi Methi or dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oil 

8. You Can Make Paneer At Home

Yes! This is true. Though a variety of cheese, making homemade paneer is very easy. You just need some milk and half a teaspoon of either lemon juice or vinegar. Similarly, you can prepare a restaurant-style paneer dish by following a few easy steps.

Follow this link to know how to keep paneer soft.

Making butter chicken may be a bit more difficult, but it is also definitely doable. Indian curries look complicated, but their rich flavors are easy to replicate. 

9. There Are Gluten-Free Versions of Paneer Makhani and Butter Chicken

This may seem improbable since the word ‘butter’ is literally staring at your face and the creamy texture is a given of these recipes. But, ingenious chefs have found a way to incorporate these Indian curries into a gluten-free regime. How did they do it?

For this, you just need to replace the white butter and cream in the recipes. Blending soaked cashews to a smooth paste is a great alternative to get the identical creamy consistency. You can also use whole milk or 2% reduced-fat milk or even skip it completely and add water instead. 

Coconut milk is also a good replacement for making a delicious dish. Using regular vegetable oil in place of butter also makes these dishes healthier. The taste will still be that of the flavorful curry that you have come to love. 

10. You Can Use Ready-made Tomato Paste 

Most Indian curries can be made with a staple tomato-based paste. For making butter chicken, this paste is a great way to save time. Or you can also get this tikka masala sauce and add some heavy cream and melted butter to mimic the makhani taste. 

Using a mild curry sauce with cooking cream will also do the trick. Indian cooking is made easy with these ready-made sauces. 

11. Nutritional Facts: Paneer Makhani vs Butter Chicken

We hate to say this, but your favorite Indian dishes may not be all that healthy. But with proper exercise and portion control, you should not have to stop yourself from indulging in the creamy goodness of paneer makhani and butter chicken. 

A bowl of paneer makhani can contain between 300-350 calories, while butter chicken has 415-480 calories based on servings and preparation methods. Here is also the ultimate cheat sheet on paneer vs chicken.

 Paneer MakhaniButter Chicken
Saturated Fat106%94%
Vitamin A23%43%
Vitamin B167%
Vitamin B259%
Vitamin B35%
Vitamin B650%
Vitamin B1217%
Vitamin C16%24%
Vitamin D7%
Vitamin E7%
Vitamin K8%
Vitamin B93%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet.

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