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What's The Difference Between Butter Chicken And Chicken Tikka Masala?

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Author: Saffron Road Chef John Umlauf

Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken are two of the most popular South Asian dishes in the world. They've helped spread that region's bold, delicious flavors across the globe. But where did they originally come from? Both are similar in that they can be traced back to South Asian restaurant chefs enhancing or altering previous recipes. 

 

In the case of Butter Chicken, the legend goes that, in the late 1940s, Chef Kundan Lal Gujral created this dish by developing a tomato sauce to cover the tandoori chicken he was famous for. And, as you can probably guess from the name, his sauce contained a good amount of butter and cream. After putting the meal on the menu in his Delhi restaurant, a classic dish was born.  

 

The history of Tikka Masala is less certain, with different stories on how the dish came to be. Its history stretches back 5,000 years to the first use of the tandoor, the Indian clay oven. However, Tikka Masala itself is a much more modern dish. Most stories agree that a Bangladeshi chef in Britain developed the recipe by taking Butter Chicken and making it more palatable to British tastes. It became such a hit that the dish was crowned as Britain's national dish!

 

Saffron Road honors these two recipes as distinct and important milestones in the evolving landscape of world cuisine by recreating them as authentically as possible for you to enjoy at home. Our Butter Chicken is true to its name, with butter and cream among the top five ingredients in the sauce. It also has a soft, herbal note alongside the tomato to complement and enhance its creaminess—a true comfort food. Our Tikka Masala, on the other hand, takes a bolder approach. It's packed with the masala flavors of cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilies. This spiciness is softened by the addition of yogurt rather than cream, which adds a bit of a tangy edge to the sauce. 

 

At Saffron Road, we seek to inspire and connect people through a shared love of ethical, premium world cuisine. We source high-quality, wholesome ingredients that come from family farmers we know and trust. Our wide selection of authentic dishes and delicious snacks are finely crafted with healthy ingredients and exciting, exotic flavors. So, go ahead and dig in—there's a world of food out there to discover.

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