One of the most popular dishes in the country is the creamy and tangy butter chicken, where chunks of chiåcken cooked over charcoal are served with a tangy, yet creamy tomato gravy, that is mildly sweet and oh so tempting. Such is the popularity of the dish that restaurants in London have started serving this popular North Indian. Served with butter naans, tandoori rotis, or rice, this dish is will stir up your taste buds like no other.
From a health perspective, however, this is an absolute nightmare, as it is so caloric dense, that you would need to run, yes run for at least 2 hours to negate the effects of this dish.
Being a non-vegetarian dish, it comprises chicken chunks that are high in protein and low in fat. However, the preparation of the dish is what makes it an absolute nightmare from a fitness perspective. The chicken is first marinated in spices and curds and is then cooked over coal and while doing so, it is basted with oodles of butter or oil to keep the chicken nice and moist. Moving over to the gravy, the base of which is made of tomatoes, which in itself are not unhealthy, but when cooked in fats such as butter, it makes it a caloric bomb.
A glance at the nutritional information will leave you shell-shocked, as over two-thirds of the calories come from fats alone. No wonders why this dish is so delicious and tempting, as it derives most of its flavors from fats alone. These fats come from cream, butter, and refined oils that are added at various stages of the cooking process. Moreover, many restaurants only use a small amount of butter and substitute the fats with refined oils to keep the cost low. Topped off with a sizeable serving of cream and you have a dish that undoubtedly delicious, but is also extremely unhealthy. When served with bread such as butter naans and butter rotis, you are looking at a caloric intake of close to 1300 calories in a single meal.
The second highest calorie contributor to this dish is carbohydrates, which comes in the form of a gravy that is made using tomatoes, onions, cashew, and while these alone are not unhealthy, they add nothing nutritionally but only add to the caloric count. Moreover, restaurants add a teaspoon or two of sugar to balance out the tanginess of the tomato gravy, and as we all are aware that refined sugar can be extremely unhealthy.
Not so surprising is the protein content that contributes the least to the overall calories, all of which comes from the chicken itself. And while protein is necessary to not just build muscle, but for your body to function efficiently, it's the rest of the ingredients that are added to this dish that makes it extremely unhealthy.
Having earned the reputation of being one of the most popular dishes in the country, you can occasionally treat yourself to this cheat meal, or gorge on healthier options such as protein bars or if you insist on eating butter chicken regularly, you can at least look for healthier ways to prepare this dish without adding all the unnecessary fats. And while the healthier version of the dish may not be as savory as the original one, you at least know that the food that you’re consuming isn't bad for you after all.