It’s time to move beyond butter chicken

Butter chicken is a delicious South Asian dish loved by many. Photo courtesy of NYT Cooking.


Butter chicken – in all its spicy, savory goodness – is a sensational dish that is enjoyed by many. With its vibrant orange sauce, tender chicken and spicy flavor, the dish has made its way into the mainstream american culture. On social networks, ICT Tac in particular, South Asian cuisine is trending, with butter chicken in particular being very popular. In Western culture, butter chicken is the hallmark of South Asian cuisine. As popular as it is, it’s not the only example of South Asian cultural cuisine.

Butter chicken wins the popularity contest

As one of the most popular Indian dishes, butter chicken is widely known, and rightly so. traditionally called murgh makhani, he hails from the Punjab region of northern India and has grown to develop quite a dedicated fanbase both inside and outside of South Asia. However, South Asian food exists beyond the butter chicken bubble of popularity. It also exists beyond indian food; South Asian cuisine consists of a multitude of regional and cultural foods spanning the entire South Asian subcontinent. It encompasses various countries and cultures. But why is butter chicken so popular?

First-year pre-pharmacy major Raj Kadakia explained why butter chicken is so popular.

“As for the taste, [butter chicken] is one of the most [comforting] food,” Kadakia said. ” There is meat. The creaminess of the sauce also contains tomato… When we get it here in our [American] restaurants… they don’t make it really spicy so people may like it… It almost looks like a tomato-basil type soup with chicken… That’s literally how people see it.

Kadakia agrees that butter chicken is delicious, but could it be overrated?

Rushda Hussein, a junior biochemistry student, shared her thoughts on whether or not butter chicken is overrated.

“I think it’s valued rightly,” Hussein said. “It’s not too crazy of a dish. I think for someone who has never had one before, it’s a good thing for them to try.

The variety of South Asian cuisine

Butter chicken is an undeniably delicious dish, but there are countless other foods that others say are just as delicious. South Asian cuisine is filled with a variety of ingredients and foods, and the use of these ingredients differs across ethnic and geographic regions. Given this diversity, there is also a plethora of other delicious foods.

The countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are all part of the South Asian subcontinent, with Afghanistan and the Maldives considered by some to be South Asian countries. A combination of countless aromatic spices – such as turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, cardamom, curry leaves and saffron to name a few – are almost always used. Meat is eaten more commonly in some parts of South Asia than others, often due to religious reasons.

South Asia’s religious diversity is a major contributor to its culinary diversity. Muslims abstain from pork, while many Hindus are often lacto-vegetarians. Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, so beef is not often eaten. Jainism strictly adheres to the principle of non-violence, and this also applies to the consumption of meat and other living creatures. Some followers of Sikhism do not eat meat, but the general consensus among Sikh scholars is that eating meat is a personal choice.

One of Hussein’s favorite aspects of South Asian cuisine is its variety.

“Each region kind of has its own specialty,” Hussein said. ” For Gujaratis, we tend to have more vegetarian food as it is mainly a Hindu society. But I know if you go to Hyderabad or a lot of [other regions in] Punjab, they have chicken and goat.

Kadakia is also Gujarati and shared some details about the basics of Gujarati cooking, especially when it comes to daily staples.

“Where I’m from, we eat daal, bhaat, shaak [and] roasted.” said Kadakia. “Daal is a lentil soup. [since] there are many types of daal… Roti is the flatbread where I come from. Often people know what naan is, and they hear about it all the time, but again [roti and other flatbreads are not] always represented… [And,] the shaak is curry; some people also call it subzi.

Freshman biology major Rida Jawad gave an insight into Pakistani cuisine, as someone born in Pakistan.

“I grew up on a lot of South Asian food,” Jawad said. “I didn’t really like spicy food, so when I was little my parents would tone it down a bit… I always ate South Asian food, [and] there is this dish called zarda … [that’s] just like sweet rice.

Although zarda is a sweet dish, it still uses some essential spices, mainly cardamom and saffron. It also often includes nuts and dried fruits. It is a sweet dish that is sometimes eaten with something savory, instead of being an individual dessert dish.

Kadakia shared her thoughts on some of the most popular aspects of South Asian cuisine, especially in America.

“Most of my American friends tend to like Punjabi food more,” Kadakia said. “There is more meat [and] more of those comfort foods that people are used to here.

Go beyond the butter chicken bubble

Butter chicken is undoubtedly a fan favorite, but South Asian cuisine offers a diverse range of dishes that should also be tried. Hussein shared that one of his favorite dishes is nihari.

“My favorite [dish] is nihari,” Hussein said. “I think it’s really good. This is [made] with beef in general. It’s almost like a stew.

Nihari includes a handful of spices and seasonings that yield a delicious end result. It’s the definition of comfort food, with its warm spices and savory seasonings.

Kadakia also shared some of her favorite dishes, one of which was undhiyu, which is a Gujarati dish made with a variety of green vegetables cooked with fenugreek. It’s from the city of Surat in Gujarat.

There are a plethora of cultural foods specific to each cultural region of South Asia, and butter chicken is just one example. However, it’s time to get out of the butter chicken comfort zone.

chicken 65 shares the vibrancy of butter chicken, but it offers more spice and a jumpy kick. Try biryani for a rice dish filled with marinated meat, fragrant rice and a handful of delicious spices. Give haleema thick soup-like dish filled with shredded meat and lentils, to try to keep warm this winter.

South Asian cuisine is filled with delicacy after delicacy. Try something new during these colder months to find a new favorite.

Local South Asian restaurants in the greater Indianapolis area to try:

Bombay Bazaar: 7233 Fishers Landing Dr, Fishermen, IN 46038

Hyderabad House: 8540 Castleton Corner Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46250 and 8840 N Michigan Rd, Unit 105 Indianapolis, IN, 46268

Chapati: 4930 Lafayette Rd G, Indianapolis, IN 46254

House Biryani: 4857 W 38th St, Indianapolis, IN 46254

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