Difference Between Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken

The Indian culinary landscape is vast, diverse, and full of flavors. Among its treasures are two delectable dishes that have captivated the palates of many: Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken. In our exploration of Chicken Lababdar vs Butter Chicken, we aim to unravel the unique characteristics of each, their historical origins, and their place in the rich tapestry of Indian cuisine. Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast or someone simply looking to understand the differences between these dishes, this guide promises insightful revelations.

What is Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken?

Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken are both popular North Indian dishes that have garnered admiration and love from food enthusiasts around the world. Both dishes are renowned for their creamy texture and delectable flavor profile, but they have distinct identities of their own.

Chicken Lababdar: This dish is characterized by its thick, luscious gravy made with a blend of tomatoes, onions, and a mix of Indian spices. It is enriched with cream and butter, giving it a rich flavor and velvety texture. The chicken is usually marinated for a longer time in Chicken Lababdar, making it tender and juicy.

Butter Chicken: Also known as “Murgh Makhani,” Butter Chicken traces its origins to Delhi. It involves chicken pieces marinated in yogurt and spices, which are then cooked in a tandoor (clay oven) before being simmered in a creamy tomato gravy enriched with butter. The tanginess of tomatoes combined with the richness of butter makes this dish an all-time favorite.

What is the Main Difference Between Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken?

The main difference between Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken lies in their flavor profiles and preparation methods. While both are North Indian dishes with rich gravies, Butter Chicken is characterized by its creamy, tangy tomato-based sauce with a pronounced buttery flavor. In contrast, Chicken Lababdar has a deeper and spicier taste, achieved through a prolonged cooking process and the addition of coarsely ground spices and onions. This gives Chicken Lababdar a slightly chunkier consistency and a more layered flavor as compared to the velvety smoothness of Butter Chicken.

Key differences between Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken:

  1. Marination: In Chicken Lababdar, the chicken is often marinated for a more extended period, which infuses deeper flavors into the meat, whereas Butter Chicken requires a shorter marination time.
  2. Texture of the Gravy: Butter Chicken has a smooth and creamy gravy, while Chicken Lababdar usually has a slightly chunkier consistency due to the coarsely ground ingredients.
  3. Tanginess: Butter Chicken typically has a more pronounced tangy flavor due to the larger quantity of tomatoes used.
  4. Spiciness: Chicken Lababdar often boasts a spicier profile compared to Butter Chicken.
  5. Origin: Butter Chicken originated in Delhi, while Chicken Lababdar doesn’t have a defined origin but is a modern Indian restaurant invention.
  6. Creaminess: Butter Chicken often contains more butter and cream, making it richer, whereas Chicken Lababdar might use less dairy.
  7. Cooking Technique: While both dishes might use tandoor-cooked chicken, it is more traditional and prominent in Butter Chicken.
  8. Presence of Onions: Chicken Lababdar incorporates onions in its gravy, contributing to its unique taste and texture. In contrast, Butter Chicken focuses primarily on tomato-based gravy.

Key similarities between Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken:

  1. Cream and Butter: Both dishes are renowned for their rich, creamy gravies, courtesy of the generous use of cream and butter.
  2. Chicken: Both dishes predominantly use boneless chicken pieces, which are marinated to enhance their flavor.
  3. Indian Spices: Both Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken use a medley of Indian spices, giving them a robust flavor profile.
  4. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a primary ingredient in the gravies of both dishes, though in varying quantities.
  5. Serving Accompaniments: Both dishes are best enjoyed with Indian bread such as naan or rice preparations like Pulao or Biryani.
  6. Popularity: Both dishes are immensely popular and commonly found in North Indian restaurant menus worldwide.
  7. Color: Owing to the use of tomatoes, cream, and certain spices, both dishes typically have an enticing orangish hue.

Pros of Chicken Lababdar over Butter Chicken:

  1. Flavor Depth: Due to its longer marination process, Chicken Lababdar often has a deeper infusion of spices, resulting in a more profound flavor experience.
  2. Texture Variety: The slightly chunkier consistency of Chicken Lababdar offers a varied texture, which might appeal to those who prefer a bit of bite in their gravies.
  3. Onion Addition: Incorporation of onions in Chicken Lababdar introduces an additional layer of flavor, which is absent in the predominantly tomato-based gravy of Butter Chicken.
  4. Spice Level: For those who crave a spicier taste, Chicken Lababdar generally boasts a spicier profile compared to Butter Chicken.
  5. Versatility: Chicken Lababdar can be easily adapted to various spice levels and consistencies based on individual preferences, making it a flexible dish.
  6. Modern Appeal: As a newer invention in the realm of Indian cuisine, Chicken Lababdar might appeal to those looking for modern takes on traditional dishes.
  7. Less Dairy: While still rich, Chicken Lababdar might sometimes use less dairy compared to Butter Chicken, which could be preferable for some individuals.

Cons of Chicken Lababdar compared to Butter Chicken:

  1. Traditional Authenticity: Butter Chicken, with its rich history and origin in Delhi, offers a taste of authentic North Indian cuisine. Chicken Lababdar, being a modern invention, lacks this historical significance.
  2. Simplicity: The creamy and smooth texture of Butter Chicken is straightforward and loved by many. The chunkier consistency of Chicken Lababdar might not appeal to everyone.
  3. Richness: The generous use of butter and cream in Butter Chicken gives it a rich and velvety mouthfeel that might be preferable for those craving a more decadent dish.
  4. Tangy Flavor: The pronounced tangy flavor in Butter Chicken, resulting from the use of tomatoes, might be more appealing to some palates than the more balanced flavors of Chicken Lababdar.
  5. Global Recognition: Butter Chicken is more widely recognized and appreciated worldwide, making it a safer choice for those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine.
  6. Consistency: With its well-defined method of preparation, Butter Chicken tends to have a more consistent taste across different restaurants, while Chicken Lababdar might vary more significantly depending on the chef’s interpretation.
  7. Pairing Options: The mild and creamy flavor profile of Butter Chicken pairs seamlessly with various Indian bread and rice dishes, making it a versatile choice for a meal.

Pros of Butter Chicken over Chicken Lababdar:

  1. Historical Significance: Hailing from Delhi, Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani offers a rich taste of authentic North Indian culinary tradition, which many enthusiasts find appealing.
  2. Creamy Consistency: Butter Chicken is known for its consistently smooth and velvety gravy, a texture that is often favored by those who appreciate a uniform and creamy sauce.
  3. Global Acclaim: Butter Chicken is one of the most recognized and celebrated Indian dishes globally, making it a familiar choice for both newcomers to Indian cuisine and long-time aficionados.
  4. Rich and Decadent: The generous incorporation of butter and cream makes Butter Chicken incredibly rich, offering a decadent dining experience.
  5. Mild Flavor Profile: Butter Chicken typically has a milder and less spicy flavor, which can be more palatable for those who prefer less heat in their meals.
  6. Versatility in Pairings: Its mild and creamy nature allows Butter Chicken to pair seamlessly with a variety of Indian bread and rice dishes, ranging from plain naan to aromatic biryanis.
  7. Distinct Tanginess: The pronounced tangy flavor from tomatoes in Butter Chicken offers a unique taste that differentiates it from many other Indian chicken dishes.

Cons of Butter Chicken compared to Chicken Lababdar:

  1. Less Spicy: Those craving a spicier kick might find Butter Chicken a bit too mild when compared to Chicken Lababdar.
  2. Caloric Content: Due to the abundant use of butter and cream, Butter Chicken can be more calorie-dense, which might be a concern for health-conscious diners.
  3. Limited Texture: While many appreciate the smoothness of Butter Chicken, those seeking a varied texture might find it lacking in contrast to the slightly chunkier Chicken Lababdar.
  4. Less Diverse Flavor Profile: The predominant flavors in Butter Chicken are tanginess from tomatoes and richness from dairy, which might seem less diverse in profile when compared to the multifaceted taste of Chicken Lababdar.
  5. Overexposure: Given its global popularity, some frequent diners of Indian cuisine might find Butter Chicken too common and might crave something less ubiquitous.
  6. Dairy Dependency: The dish relies heavily on dairy products for its signature taste, which might not be suitable for those with dairy sensitivities or preferences.
  7. Less Onion Flavor: Lovers of the layered taste that onions bring might miss this flavor in Butter Chicken, which is more present in dishes like Chicken Lababdar.

Situations when Chicken Lababdar is better than Butter Chicken:

  1. Spice Craving: If you or your guests are craving a dish with a bit more heat and spiciness, Chicken Lababdar often offers a spicier profile compared to the milder Butter Chicken.
  2. Texture Variation: For those who prefer a varied texture in their gravies and enjoy the feel of coarsely ground spices and ingredients, Chicken Lababdar, with its slightly chunkier consistency, will be the better choice.
  3. Onion Enthusiasts: If the layered taste of onions appeals to you, Chicken Lababdar, which incorporates onions in its gravy, offers this unique flavor profile missing in Butter Chicken.
  4. Modern Culinary Experience: For diners seeking a contemporary twist to traditional Indian cuisine, the relatively newer Chicken Lababdar might be more fitting.
  5. Dietary Restrictions: While both dishes are rich, Chicken Lababdar might sometimes use less dairy, making it a slightly better option for those cutting back on dairy intake.
  6. Distinctive Flavor: For those looking to try something different and less globally common than Butter Chicken, Chicken Lababdar can be an excellent alternative.
  7. Adaptable Recipes: If you’re cooking for a group with diverse tastes, Chicken Lababdar can be easily tweaked for spiciness and consistency, offering flexibility in preparation.

Situations when Butter Chicken is better than Chicken Lababdar:

  1. First-Time Diners: For individuals trying Indian cuisine for the first time, the globally recognized Butter Chicken can be a safer and familiar introduction.
  2. Creamy Preference: If a smooth, creamy, and velvety texture is preferred, Butter Chicken with its consistent gravy will be a hit.
  3. Milder Palates: For those who prefer a milder, less spicy meal, Butter Chicken’s subtler flavors will likely be more palatable.
  4. Historical Culinary Journey: Diners who appreciate the historical significance and origin stories of dishes might lean towards Butter Chicken, given its rich history in Delhi.
  5. Dairy Lovers: The generous use of butter and cream in Butter Chicken makes it a delight for those who love rich and creamy dishes.
  6. Global Crowd-Pleaser: If you’re serving a diverse group of people, many of whom might already be familiar with Indian cuisine, Butter Chicken is a renowned dish that’s typically a crowd-pleaser.
  7. Tangy Flavor Seekers: Those who love a pronounced tanginess in their dishes, coming from the use of tomatoes, will find Butter Chicken to be more to their liking.
  8. Consistent Experience: If you’re dining out and seek a reliably consistent flavor, given Butter Chicken’s more standardized recipe across restaurants, it might be the safer bet.

Chicken Lababdar vs Butter Chicken Summary

Through our in-depth analysis of “Chicken Lababdar vs Butter Chicken”, it becomes evident that while both dishes hail from the same North Indian culinary tradition, they each offer distinct flavor profiles, textures, and histories. The choice between them boils down to individual palate preferences and the specific culinary experience one seeks. As with many great dishes, the best way to truly understand and appreciate them is to savor them. So, the next time you find yourself at an Indian restaurant or in your kitchen, consider indulging in both to appreciate the nuances that make each dish uniquely delightful.

AspectChicken LababdarButter Chicken
DifferencesDeeper infusion of spices, Onion addition, Chunkier consistency, Newer inventionHistorical significance, Creamy consistency, Global acclaim, Tangy flavor
SimilaritiesNorth Indian origin, Chicken as main ingredient, Rich and flavorful gravy, Spicy noteNorth Indian origin, Chicken as main ingredient, Rich and flavorful gravy, Creamy base
ProsFlavor depth, Texture variety, Versatility, Less DairyHistorical authenticity, Creamy consistency, Global recognition, Rich and Decadent, Distinct tanginess
ConsLess traditional authenticity, Simplicity, OverexposureLess spicy, Caloric content, Limited texture, Dairy dependency
Situations Favoring ChoiceSpice craving, Modern culinary experience, Onion enthusiasts, Adaptable recipesFirst-time diners, Creamy preference, Dairy lovers, Milder palates, Global crowd-pleaser, Tangy flavor seekers
Chicken Lababdar vs Butter Chicken Summary


What are the primary ingredients in Chicken Lababdar that give it its unique taste?

Chicken Lababdar is characterized by its rich blend of onions, tomatoes, and a medley of spices. It’s the deeper infusion of these spices and the addition of onions that give Chicken Lababdar its distinctive taste, setting it apart from Butter Chicken.

Is Butter Chicken suitable for individuals who are lactose intolerant or dairy-sensitive?

Butter Chicken traditionally uses a generous amount of butter and cream in its preparation, making it rich and creamy. As a result, it may not be suitable for individuals who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy. It’s always a good idea to check with the restaurant or chef if any dairy substitutes have been used or if they offer a dairy-free version.

Between Chicken Lababdar and Butter Chicken, which one is typically spicier?

Answer: Chicken Lababdar often offers a spicier profile compared to the milder Butter Chicken. However, spice levels can vary based on the chef’s preparation and the specific recipe being used. If you have a particular spice preference, it’s advisable to specify it when ordering at a restaurant.

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