Chicken Korma vs. Butter Chicken: Unraveling the Delicious Distinctions

Chicken Korma vs. Butter Chicken: Exploring the differences

Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken are two popular and iconic dishes in Asian cuisine. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart. This article will explore the key differences between Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken, including their ingredients, cooking methods, and flavors. By understanding these variations, you can appreciate the unique qualities of each dish and make an informed choice when selecting your next Indian culinary experience.

Chicken Korma: A Spicy Delight

Chicken Korma is a dish that holds a prestigious status, having once been served to the elite of the Mughal Empire. This flavorful recipe features a blend of roasted spices, dark caramelized onions, yogurt, and other aromatic spices. Traditionally made with chicken, beef, veal or lamb, it can also be combined with vegetables or bone broth.

Ingredients for Chicken Korma

To prepare an authentic serving of Chicken Korma, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Sliced Onions
  • Black Cardamom
  • Green Cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Star Anise
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Black Cumin Seeds
  • Bay Leaves
  • Ginger Garlic Paste
  • Chicken (medium cut)
  • Sea salt
  • Paprika Powder
  • Roasted Coriander Powder
  • Red Chili Powder
  • Yellow Food Color
  • Water Color
  • Mildly acidic yogurt
  • Nutmeg Powder
  • Mace Powder
  • Garam Masala Powder
  • Butter Powder
  • Kewra Water
  • Blanched almonds (to garnish)
  • Ginger (for garnishing)

Preparation of Chicken Korma

Follow these steps to make Chicken Korma:

  1. In a saucepan, melt the clarified butter (ghee) and sauté the sliced onions until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Mash the crispy caramelized onions to a grainy, powdery consistency. Drain excess oil and cool on paper towels.
  3. In the same saucepan, add the black cardamom, green cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks, black cumin and bay leaves. Roast for 1 minute.
  4. Add the ginger-garlic paste to the pot and mix with the spices.
  5. Add the chicken to the pot and saute until it changes color. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add salt, paprika powder, roasted coriander powder, red chili powder, and yellow food coloring. Mix for 2 minutes.
  7. Add water to pot and mix again.
  8. Turn off the heat and add the low-fat yogurt. Mix for 2 minutes.
  9. Return the saucepan to the heat and add the nutmeg and mace powder. Stir for another 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add the fried, chopped onions and mix well.
  11. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add garam masala powder, butter and kewra water. Give it a good mix.
  12. Decorate with blanched almonds and ginger.
  13. Serve hot with buttered naan or flatbread of your choice.

Butter Chicken: A creamy culinary creation

Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a dish that originated in India. Legend has it that it was created by mixing leftover tandoori chicken with tomato curry during a busy night at a restaurant called Moti Mahal in the 1950s. Butter Chicken gained popularity and quickly became an instant hit, eventually making its way to North America and Europe.

Ingredients for Butter Chicken


What is the main difference between Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken?

The main difference is in their flavor profiles and preparation methods. Chicken Korma is rich and mildly spiced with a blend of roasted spices, caramelized onions and yogurt. Butter Chicken, on the other hand, has a creamy and spicy tomato-based sauce with a hint of sweetness.

Are there any variations in the meat choices for these dishes?

Both Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken can be made with chicken, but they can also be made with other meats such as beef, lamb, or veal. However, chicken is the most commonly used protein for these dishes.

Which dish is spicier, chicken korma or butter chicken?

Chicken Korma tends to be milder in terms of spiciness compared to Butter Chicken. While Chicken Korma uses a blend of aromatic spices, it is not known for being overly spicy. Butter Chicken, on the other hand, can have a moderate level of heat depending on the recipe and personal preference.

Can I make these dishes vegetarian?

Yes, both Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken can be made vegetarian. For vegetarian options, you can replace the meat with paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu, or a medley of vegetables such as cauliflower, peas, and potatoes.

What is the most popular dish in Indian restaurants?

Both Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken are very popular dishes in Indian restaurants. However, Butter Chicken has gained more international recognition and is often considered a staple of Indian cuisine, especially in North Indian restaurants.

What are the best accompaniments for Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken?

Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken are traditionally served with naan (Indian bread), roti (whole wheat bread) or rice. They pair well with a side of raita (yogurt sauce), pickles, and fresh salad to complement the flavors of the dish.