I will start with the main message. Chicken Tikka Masala IS the same as Butter Chicken. Simple.
Now for the longer post, complete with digressions.
I read a little while ago that Chicken Tikka Masala was Britain’s favourite dish. (It’s recently been overtaken by stir fry, apparently.) And was often served at pubs. (I remember on my first trip to the UK being served a curry with chips – as in fries – in a flash pub and thinking, replete with my early 20s sophistication, what uncouth barbarians these English are!)
So I planned to have a chicken tikka masala when I got here. Unfortunately, Britain has moved on. There’s a tonne of gastropubs (gastro is the new gourmet, though gastro means something entirely unappetising to me) but none serve curies. Comfort food seems in. And the Indian restaurants seen to have gone “authentic”.
But luckily we found an “old-fashioned” curry house. (Doubly luckily, it was the cheapest place at which we ate and was yummy so we went twice. Half the price than most places so comparing taste for money it was the best.)
So I ordered Chicken Tikka Masala.
When it arrived it looked suspiciously like the dish I always order when we go to an Indian restaurant in Australia.
In fact, so often do my sons and I order it, and we always get two because we don’t want to share, we earn the ire of Mr S. But for us Butter Chicken is not only our dish of choice, it is the only main course we really enjoy. And for us it defines the restaurant. Butter chicken no good? Well we won’t return. Suffice to say, I am a Butter Chicken expert.
Not only did the Chicken Tikka Masala LOOK like Butter Chicken, it tasted like Butter Chicken.
Could it be the same by another name?
When we got back to our accommodation I googled it. Most agree it is. One pompous Indian writer said they were different dishes. That the Tikka Masala was developed from England based on Campbell’s Tomato Soup while the Butter Chicken came from fresh tomatoes in Indian.
Clearly she hasn’t heard of convergent evolution.
They are the same dish.
Variations between restaurants will be greater for each than any variation between the two “different” dishes.
At least my sons and I can eat at Indian restaurants in the UK content in the knowledge we will get our dish.
* a rose by any other name.