Butter Chicken vs Dopiaza: What’s the Difference?

Written By Ollie Cartwright


In the world of delicious Indian cuisine, Butter Chicken and Dopiaza are two popular dishes that have captivated food enthusiasts globally. But how do they differ and which is the best?

Dopiaza next to butter chicken with labels for comparison

Butter Chicken is a creamy, tomato-based curry with tender chicken pieces, known for its mild spice and rich flavour. Dopiaza, on the other hand, is a less creamy curry characterised by a generous use of onions and a blend of aromatic spices.

What is Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, originated in Delhi, India, in the 1950s. It’s a dish where chicken is marinated in yoghurt and spices, and then cooked in a creamy tomato sauce.

This sauce is typically made with butter (hence the name), cream, tomatoes, and various spices like garam masala, ginger, and garlic. The dish is loved for its smooth texture and the perfect balance of tangy and sweet flavours.

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What is Dopiaza?

Dopiaza, meaning “double onions” in Persian, is a curry dish that originated in South Asia.

It’s known for its significant use of onions, appearing twice in the cooking process – once at the base of the curry and then again as a garnish. The dish includes a variety of spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and often features meat like chicken or lamb.

The onions in Dopiaza add a sweet, caramelised flavour and a slightly crunchy texture to the dish.

Similarities Between Butter Chicken and Dopiaza

Side-by-side, you can tell that Butter Chicken is different to Dopiaza. So you might be surprised to here that they do share some similarities:

  • Primary Protein: Both dishes commonly use chicken as the main ingredient.
  • Spices: They share a range of spices typical in Indian cuisine, like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala.
  • Serving Style: Both are typically served with rice or Indian bread like naan or roti.
  • Popularity: Butter Chicken and Dopiaza are popular dishes in Indian restaurants worldwide, loved for their rich flavours.

Differences Between Butter Chicken and Dopiaza

The list of differences is fairly extensive when comparing these two curries. Here are 5 things that make Butter Chicken different to Dopiaza:

  • Base Ingredients: Butter Chicken uses a creamy tomato base, while Dopiaza is characterised by a large quantity of onions.
  • Texture: Butter Chicken is smooth and creamy, whereas Dopiaza has a more varied texture due to the presence of onions.
  • Flavour Profile: The flavour of Butter Chicken is milder and slightly sweet, while Dopiaza offers a sharper taste with a focus on the flavour of onions.
  • Origin: Butter Chicken originated in North India, specifically Delhi, while Dopiaza’s roots are less clear but are believed to be from South Asia.
  • Preparation Style: The preparation of Butter Chicken involves marinating and grilling the chicken before adding it to the sauce, whereas Dopiaza often involves cooking the meat directly in the curry.
Is Dopiaza Hotter Than Butter Chicken?

Dopiaza is typically not hotter than Butter Chicken. Butter Chicken is known for its creamy, mild flavour, while Dopiaza, a dish characterised by its generous use of onions, has a more robust flavour but is not necessarily spicy. The heat level in both dishes can vary based on the recipe and personal preference.

Butter Chicken and Dopiaza: Which Wins?

If you were to walk into an Indian restaurant now and you had to order one of these two dishes, which gets your vote?

Do You Prefer Butter Chicken or Dopiaza?

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