Fried Chicken > Rara chicken vs butter chicken

Rara Chicken vs Butter Chicken: What is The Difference?

Rara chicken and butter chicken are two of the most popular curried chicken dishes in Indian cuisine. While they share some similarities, there are some key differences between these flavorful chicken curries.

What is Rara Chicken?

Rara chicken originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It gets its name from the Hindi word “rara” meaning rare or unusual.

Rara chicken is made by cooking chicken pieces in a spiced tomato and yogurt sauce. The sauce usually contains garlic, ginger, spices like coriander, cumin, garam masala, and Kashmiri red chili powder. This gives rara chicken a tangy, mildly spicy flavor.

Some versions also include cream or coconut milk to give it a richer, creamier texture. Rara chicken has its origins in tandoori chicken cooking techniques, where the chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices before being cooked in a very hot tandoor oven. The sauce mimics those flavors.

Related post: Jerk chicken vs curry chicken?

What is the History of Rara Chicken?

While the exact origins of rara chicken are unclear, it likely emerged as a way to capture the flavors of tandoori chicken in a sauce that could be made at home without a tandoor oven.

The use of yogurt and spice marinades for tandoori chicken dates back centuries in the Punjab region, which was influenced by Mughlai cuisine. Adding tomato to create the rara chicken sauce may have come later.

Rara chicken as we know it today has become popular across India, Pakistan and beyond as a tasty chicken curry dish that is easy to make at home. It’s commonly served at restaurants and home kitchens.

What is Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, originated in New Delhi but is now loved all over India and internationally.

It consists of roasted chicken in a smooth, creamy, lightly spiced tomato and butter sauce. The sauce usually contains tomatoes, butter or cream, spices like garam masala, fresh ground garlic, ginger and cilantro.

The chicken is first marinated in yogurt and spices like chili powder, garam masala, turmeric and cumin. It is then roasted in the oven or grilled before being added to the rich sauce.

The result is a chicken curry that is indulgently creamy, with a mild aroma and a sweet, tangy flavor. Butter chicken was likely influenced by the British tradition of cooking meats in butter.

What is the difference between Rara Chicken and butter chicken?

While both are chicken curries using a tomato-based sauce, there are some key differences:

    • Rara chicken has a tangy flavor thanks to the yogurt and uses less cream, while butter chicken is creamier and richer.
    • Rara chicken uses more aromatic spices like cumin, coriander and garam masala while butter chicken uses fewer, milder spices.
    • Rara chicken includes onions, garlic and ginger cooked into the sauce while butter chicken’s sauce is made without.
    • Rara chicken tends to be spicier thanks to the use of chili powder while butter chicken is mild.
    • Rara chicken sauce is thinner compared to the velvety, luxurious sauce of butter chicken.
    • Rara chicken chicken pieces are added raw to the sauce, while butter chicken uses pre-roasted chicken.

So in summary, rara chicken has a fresher, spicier, tangier flavor while butter chicken is creamier and more gently spiced.

How to make chicken rara?

Making rara chicken at home is easy. Here is a simple recipe:


    • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 1 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 inch ginger, grated
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
    • Fresh cilantro for garnish
    • Rice or naan, for serving


    1. In a bowl, combine chicken with 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon each cumin, coriander and garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and salt to taste. Let marinate 30 minutes.
    2. In a pan, sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté 1 minute more.
    3. Add tomatoes and cook until softened. Add remaining 1/2 cup yogurt and spices. Simmer 5 minutes.
    4. Add marinated chicken and simmer 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and tender.
    5. Adjust salt and spices to taste. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice or naan.

So in summary, rara chicken packs a tangy, aromatic tomato flavor infused with Indian spices, yogurt and chicken. It’s fresher tasting than ultra-rich butter chicken and makes for a delicious weeknight curry dinner. Give it a try!

What is the difference between chicken curry and butter chicken?

The main difference is that traditional chicken curry uses a mix of spices simmered in a sauce, while butter chicken is chicken simmered in a creamy tomato and butter sauce. Chicken curry also has many variations across regions of India, while butter chicken is one specific dish.

Is rara chicken spicy?

Rara chicken has a mild to moderate spice level, depending on how much red chili powder is used. It tends to be tangier from the yogurt and tomatoes rather than very spicy. Adjust the chili powder to your desired spice level.

What is rara chicken served with?

Rara chicken is usually served with a starch to soak up the tasty sauce. Plain basmati rice or naan bread are perfect pairings. Some chopped cilantro or onion on top adds a nice fresh flavor contrast.

Is rara chicken the same as butter chicken?

No, rara chicken and butter chicken are different dishes. Rara chicken uses more spices, yogurt and less cream for a tangier flavor. Butter chicken is more focused on creamy, mild tomato and butter flavors. But both are delicious!

Which is healthier, rara chicken or butter chicken?

Rara chicken is slightly healthier due to using yogurt and less cream or butter. But both dishes can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


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