Butter Chicken Across Regions: Explore Regional Variations

Butter Chicken Across Regions
5 min reading time

Butter chicken is a classic dish that is beloved by many. However, did you know that there are unique variations of this dish across different regions in India? Each variation offers a different take on this classic, putting its own spin on the flavorful dish.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the butter chicken across regions. From the spices and ingredients used in each region to the unique cooking techniques utilized, we’ll explore everything that makes these dishes stand out.

Core Findings

  • Butter chicken is a classic dish that has been adapted to include unique regional variations in India.
  • Northern Indian butter chicken is known for its rich flavors and tandoori cooking methods.
  • Southern Indian butter chicken incorporates coconut milk, curry leaves, and aromatic spices.
  • The original butter chicken recipe has an interesting history and has risen to international fame.
  • Exploring the regional variations is a mouthwatering journey that showcases the versatility of butter chicken.

The Original Butter Chicken Recipe

Butter chicken is a dish with a rich history that spans centuries. The original recipe can be traced back to the kitchens of Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, India, where it was created by the restaurant’s founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, in the 1940s.

The story behind the creation of this dish is an interesting one. Lal Gujral, who had previously worked as a chef in the kitchens of the British Indian Army, decided to open his own restaurant after India gained independence in 1947. He wanted to create a dish that was both flavorful and easy to eat, and that would appeal to both Indian and Western palates.

“I was running a small roadside eatery in Peshawar when I saw a group of British Army officers enjoying their food. They had ordered a tandoori chicken, but complained that it was too dry. That was when I decided to create a gravy dish by using a tomato-based sauce.”

– Kundan Lal Gujral

And so, the original butter chicken recipe was born. Lal Gujral combined smoky tandoori chicken pieces with a velvety smooth tomato-based gravy that was made richer with the addition of butter, cream, and a blend of aromatic spices. The dish was an instant hit with foreigners and locals alike, and soon became an iconic dish in Indian cuisine.

Today, variations of the original butter chicken recipe are found all over the world and are enjoyed by millions. But there’s no denying that the original recipe holds a special place in the hearts and tastebuds of many, and its origins continue to inspire culinary innovation and experimentation.

Butter Chicken in Northern India

Butter Chicken Across Regions

North Indian butter chicken is a popular dish that has its roots in Punjabi cuisine. What makes this variation of butter chicken unique is the distinct blend of spices and ingredients used in this region. The use of tandoori cooking methods gives the dish its unmistakable smoky flavor.

The preparation of this dish requires marinating chicken overnight with a blend of spices such as garam masala, cumin, and coriander. The chicken is then cooked in a clay oven, giving it a unique flavor and texture. The dish is completed with a rich, creamy tomato sauce that has a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess.

Distinct Spices and Ingredients in North Indian Butter ChickenTandoori Cooking Methods
Garam MasalaCooking in Clay Oven
CuminUse of Charcoal
CorianderHigh Heat Cooking

North Indian butter chicken is indulgent and rich, making it a perfect dish for special occasions. The distinct flavors and techniques used in this region create an unforgettable culinary experience that is loved all over the world.

Butter Chicken in Southern India

As we move down to the southern regions of India, we come across a different take on the beloved butter chicken recipe. South Indian butter chicken encompasses the flavors of creamy coconut milk, fragrant curry leaves, and an abundance of aromatic spices. These unique ingredients add a depth of flavor and complexity to the dish that distinguishes it from its Northern counterpart.

The use of coconut milk is an essential characteristic of South Indian cuisine, and it elevates the butter chicken with a creamy and sweet undertone. The curry leaves, which are prevalent in the South Indian kitchen, add a distinct aroma and herbaceous flavor that complements the earthy spices.

Additionally, South Indian butter chicken typically uses boneless chicken, which is marinated in a blend of yogurt and spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. The chicken is then cooked in a tomato-based curry and finished with a swirl of cream. The resulting dish is a delicious amalgamation of sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors.

Overall, South Indian butter chicken is a perfect representation of the region’s vibrant and distinct culinary traditions. Its unique ingredients, fragrant spices, and rich flavors are bound to tantalize your taste buds.


Regional variations of butter chicken highlight the diverse and rich flavors of Indian cuisine. Through exploring the different ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques used in each region, we can appreciate the unique twists on the classic recipe. From the smoky and intense notes of North Indian butter chicken to the fragrant and creamy flavors of South Indian butter chicken, there’s something for everyone.

It’s easy to see why butter chicken is a beloved dish worldwide. The combination of succulent chicken, rich tomato sauce, and fragrant spices creates explosions of flavor in every bite. We invite you to explore the regional variations and decide which one suits your palate the most. With so many options, you’ll never get tired of this timeless classic.

So go ahead and savor the flavors of regional butter chicken. Whether you’re a fan of the traditional recipe or looking for something new, you’ll be sure to find something delicious. Remember, the possibilities are endless when it comes to Indian cuisine and butter chicken is just the tip of the iceberg.

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