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Help with an Indian Dish Recommendation

I am looking for a specific Indian dish I had a long time ago and don't remember what it was called. It might be a Chicken Tikki Masala or Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) or something else altogether? I do know it was not overly spicy, very creamy, red based and it was eaten over basmati rice. Can someone give me more info? I can't tolerate something too spicy. Any suggestions would be appreciated. My DH has made reservations for Indian on Friday and I'm not sure which would be better or if it would be something else. I do love chicken. I'd also like suggestions for a recipe I could make at home.

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  1. Tikka masala tends to be quite spicy. Makhani perhaps less so, although I've never actually tried it.

    1. Chicken Tikka Masala is a westernised dish based on Chicken Makhani. Both are creamy and very mild. Would be served with rice or bread.

      You might also look out for a korma or biryani (assuming Indian restaurants where you are serve these dishes). Again, mild spicing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        To my experience biryani is a dry rather than a creamy dish.

      2. Was color was the sauce? Right now, as Harters mentioned, I'm thinking you had either Chicken Makhani (reddish sauce that includes tomatoes) or Korma (paler, cream-colored sauce that is yogurt-based).

        2 Replies
        1. re: 4Snisl

          The sauce was a reddish based (I am assuming tomato). But I know I could have devoured a lot of it!

          1. re: boyzoma

            Whoops- should have read your original post more carefully to see "red based" in your description! I'm red-faced....:)

            I'm thinking you had chicken makhani, where the sauce is usually made up of spices, tomatoes, butter and yogurt or cream. I don't make it at home, so unfortunately don't have a good recipe to share. You may want to google images of "chicken makhani" or "Indian butter chicken" to see if those images look like what you had.

            Enjoy your night out! If there's anything else that appeals to you on the menu, simply ask if you can have the spice level mild- often, that accomodation can often be made on the spot (e.g. the chefs simply add less cayenne powder to your order).

        2. I've eaten at several different Indian restaurants and, come to think of it, don't think I have ver seen BOTH the Tikka masala and the Makhani on any one menu so maybe they are variations of each other. I'm not expert on that so I'll leave that for someone else to address.

          I woudl say that I've never noticed either dish to be particularly spicy - both are a creamy, red/tomato-based curry sauce. I think you'd be fine with either one. It will also be very worthwhile for you to mention when you order that you would prefer it NOT be very spicy. They can then adjust the dish if necessary.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cookie44

            Very good suggestion. Its not that I don't like spicy, its just that my heartburn doesn't like it! I have been looking at some local Indian menus (we seem to have lots of them in our area) and you are right - its either one or the other as far as Tikka Masala or Makhani. I'm hoping someone can answer that question. The recipes I've seen for Makhani use raisins and I don't remember having raisins in mine (I don't care for raisins anyway).

            1. re: boyzoma

              My favorite local Indian restaurant serves both tikka masala and makhani, FWIW.

              1. re: boyzoma

                I'd wager it was Chicken Tikka Masala, which is ubiquitous. It is very popular in the UK, where it was developed to please the local palate. I've heard it is the most popular restaurant dish there. The meat is boneless and the sauce is smooth. Chicken Makhani has bones, cashews in the sauce, and is not quite as common.
                Chicken korma is mild, too, a bit creamier, with a sauce that includes nuts and golden raisins. (You say you don't care for raisins - I love golden, loathe regular).

                Cooks Illustrated has a fine recipe for CTM but like most Indian foods, there are a lot of ingredients. Occasionally I make a simplified version of CTM or korma, which isn't bad, but generally I leave my Indian food in more experienced restaurant hands.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Perhaps Chicken Makhini varies from one restaurant to another or one region to another. I've had it several places in my area (Washington, DC area) and it has never had cashews and I believe I've never had one with bone-in chicken either. Just what I've seen here...

            2. My local Indian restaurant told me that chicken tikka masala and chicken makhani are the same, except that the first employs breast meat and the second thigh meat. Level of spice, I'm sure, varies according to the maker.

              1. Sounds like butter chicken to me. A search for "butter chicken" IN QUOTES produced several recipes among 33 hits.

                1. So one of our local Indian restaurants had a dish called Mughlai Curry as well. Can anyone tell me what is the difference between Chicken Mughlai, Chicken Makhani and Chicken Tikka Masala? Now I am really confused. Please help CH's (and I thank you all for your input).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: boyzoma

                    Probably much the same dish. Mughlai indicates a dish cooked in the style of the imperial Mughals - the cuisine was heavily influenced by the cuisine to its west - the much less "hot" but rich food of Persia.

                    Bear in mind that many restaurant dishes have westernised names and are probably unavailable in the home country under that name. And, as with anything else, recipes change and adapt according to local tastes. So, for example, the Chicken Tikka Masala that I might find in my local restaurant will not be exactly the same as I might fidn in other restaurants in the UK. And it will be a fair bet that, as it has now crossed the Atlantic, it has probably been adapted to American tastes. I've no direct experience of this (never having eaten Indian food in America - or liking CTM for that matter) - but there's a similar thing with Chinese food. I've eaten dishes in America that have the same name in the UK and they are very different.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Very well said. A lot of ppl need to realize that just because it's labeled as "Indian Food" does not mean that it is not susceptible to the exact same variations on themes as every other cuisine. I have at least a hundred different Indian and Pakistani restaurants in my area. Butter chicken is almost always boneless, some use thigh, some use breast, the sauce is a smooth tomato base with a touch of cream or milk. Usually on the less spicy side of the spectrum. On most menus, it's described as tandoori chicken which is then simmered in the sauce after it's been cooked in the tandoor. I don't think that it always the case, however. I think it's mostly chunks of chicken slowly cooked in the sauce, but whatever. In the Indian markets, there are plenty of spice packets that call for ground nuts in their butter chicken instructions and plenty that do not, and also do not have ground nuts with or in tha masala. Generally speaking though, Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani is a smooth tomato sauce with a touch of cream, not too spicy. The other variables (nuts, type of chicken, etc) will be dependant on what restaurant you go to, not someone else's restaurant.