|September 26, 2022


Introduction to Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken 

Almost everyone knows that Butter chicken and Chicken Korma are legendary dishes in Asia and many other parts of the world. 

While these mouthwatering delicacies are widely consumed in many Indian restaurants, people unfamiliar with these dishes can get easily confused between the two — which is quite understandable since both words use the same type of spices or "garam masala." 

What is the difference between Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken? 

chicken korma

Butter chicken is a primarily dairy/milk-based dish that uses ingredients like heavy cream, butter, milk, and yogurt along with spices for its curry, whereas Chicken Korma is more of a spice-based gravy consisting of deeply caramelized onions, ground/whole spices, and seasoned oil.

What's the origin of Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken's invention can be called an accident! (What a very fortunate accident, indeed!) You may find this hard to believe.

Restaurant Moti Mahal can be credited for inventing Butter Chicken sometime in the 1950s. Legend says this buttery chicken curry was made by mixing leftover food to feed customers. 

The story goes that one day, on a jam-packed evening, cooks at Moti Mahal mixed leftover Tandoori chicken with some tomato gravy and thus inadvertently ended up "inventing" an extremely tasty lip-smacker that would be known as "Butter Chicken" from then on.

Butter Chicken, just like Chicken Tikka Masala or Chicken Shahi Korma, is a rage worldwide now and has even become very popular in North America and Europe. This dish's unique combination of sweetness, spiciness, and richness makes it delicious.

Butter chicken was eventually popularized by a slew of modern Indian restaurants in America and became an instant hit. Since then, there have been many variations of this iconic recipe, just like the equally legendary Tikka Masala recipe, but the taste and consistency of its gravy have primarily remained the same.

What's the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Korma?

The best way to demonstrate the difference between these two recipes would be to explain how they are made.

What is Chicken Korma?


Chicken Korma or Murg Shahi Korma is a mixture of yogurt, roasted spices, caramelized onions, and additional spices. Pair the Korma Masala with beef, veal, chicken, or lamb. There are other regional varieties of Korma, like Mutton Korma, Chicken Kurma (in South India), Chicken Coconut Korma, and many others.

Due to the roasted cumin and coriander, the dish often gives off an incredible and mouth watering aroma.

Chicken Korma consists of two main sections:

  1. The first part is a thick gravy base with a thin layer of oil. The korma masala gravy is rich, spicy, and grainy.
  2. The second part is the sauce producing an exceptional chicken korma taste. 

What is Butter Chicken?

chicken korma

Coming to Butter Chicken, this chicken curry is a delectable mixture of yogurt, cream, butter, garam masala (spices that are grounded and roasted), tomato paste, milk, onions, and spicy curry (which is a blend of several masalas), and even more cream.

Butter Chicken is amongst the most widely consumed chicken dishes in Indian restaurants worldwide, just like Chicken Tikka and Tikka Masala. The recipe for making Butter Chicken also is extremely popular, like the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. Even though there are many variations to the recipe/ingredients, the gravy taste remains mostly the same.

Significant differences between Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken

Method of Preparation

Chicken korma is usually cooked in an oven or on a stovetop. In an oven, preheat to 350° C and cook for 45 minutes or until tender. You can also cook Chicken korma in a pan. You can even slightly sear chicken korma for better flavor before allowing it to simmer in the sauce.

Now, Butter Chicken takes a bit longer to cook. You must cook it on low heat for up to 3 hours or until the meat becomes tender. After that, you need to allow it to simmer with spices and butter for another hour. Then, you finish the cooking process by adding coconut milk or heavy cream. For the best-tasting butter chicken, it's better to prepare this dish in a tandoor or clay pot.


Because of the yogurt and nut paste, Chicken Shahi Korma generally has a thicker and chunkier sauce.

Even though butter chicken shares many of the same ingredients, korma curry tends to have a smoother consistency and texture.


Chicken korma focuses more on flavor than on heat. The korma masala contains spices such as cinnamon and cardamom that gives Chicken Korma a spectacular taste. Additionally, it has a certain tanginess due to the tomato paste.

Butter chicken is usually mild and creamy in flavor. It also is a bit spicier due to the addition of turmeric and chili powder masalas.

Nutritional Value

Chicken korma contains vitamins and minerals like sodium, potassium, dietary fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. So, if you are watching calories and body weight, note that chicken korma has about 300-330 calories per serving.

Similarly, Butter chicken is also a rich source of nutrients. It is considered richer in Vitamin A and calcium. 

But, when you compare Butter Chicken with Chicken Korma, butter chicken is generally the richer/heavier dish in terms of calories consumed. One serving of Butter Chicken comes to around 470-630 calories!


When comparing prices, Chicken korma is the more affordable dish as it doesn't use as many ingredients as butter chicken.

Butter chicken is not considered a "friendly-on-the-pocket" dish like Chicken Korma. It is generally expensive everywhere because of its longer preparation time and the use of more ingredients.

frequently asked questions

What is the difference between chicken korma and chicken curry?
Is korma or butter chicken healthier?
Is chicken korma very spicy?
Can butter chicken be made with coconut milk?
Is korma sweet or spicy?


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