I mentioned, in my review of the Cinnamon Bun chips from last year’s batch of Do Us a Flavour finalists, that every year seems to have a “water cooler flavour” — an oddball flavour that’s present more for its conversation-starting abilities than its appropriateness as a chip.
I guess butter chicken is it for this year, though as far as weird chip concoctions go, it’s more Tom Cruise than Mel Gibson — weird, but not off-puttingly so.
Of all the Indian dishes to condense into chip form, butter chicken is probably the safest. It’s one of India’s most well known culinary exports, likely because its flavours are more mellow than many Indian dishes, and thus more accessible to western palates.
For the unaware, it essentially consists of chunks of chicken in a creamy, mildly-spiced sauce, usually served with rice or naan bread.
It seems like an odd flavour for Lay’s at first, but then you think, “yeah, I think I could picture that on a chip. I’d like to try that.”
Honestly, I’d still like to try that, because while these chips basically taste okay, they do an abysmal job of recapturing the flavour of butter chicken.
I don’t know if Lay’s was concerned that any exotic flavour might turn people off (even one as comparatively mild as butter chicken), but they clearly played it way too safe. The flavour of these chips is so far removed from anything even remotely resembling butter chicken, that I don’t think I ever would have been able to guess what it was supposed to be if I hadn’t already known.
I mean, maybe if you forced me — really forced me — somewhere by hour four or five, several hundred guesses in, I’d be like “I don’t know, butter chicken??” and your eyes would light up. We’d wordlessly high-five, then both go home and never speak of it again. But our friendship would slowly fizzle out, because really, how couldn’t it? We’d been through too much.
Seriously though, these chips taste nothing like butter chicken. The flavour is so unrecognizable it that I legitimately thought that there might have been some kind of factory mishap, and that the wrong flavour somehow ended up in the bag I tried. But I spoke to someone else who had the exact same experience, so I guess that’s how it’s supposed to taste?
The chips are moderately salty, with cheesy tang and not a whole lot of complexity of flavour. In the aforementioned guessing ordeal, I’m pretty sure my first few dozen guesses would all be cheese-related. They basically just taste like cheddar cheese chips, with an ever-so-subtle whiff of a curry-like aftertaste, if you really, really concentrate.
The chip itself is plain old Lay’s, which in this case is ideal. I’m pretty sure the more assertive taste of a ruffled or kettle chip would completely overwhelm the very mild flavours here.
I mean, it’s not bad, I guess. There’s certainly nothing offensive about it. I like cheese-flavoured chips, so I basically enjoyed these, even if “bland” is one of the first words to spring to mind. But it’s kind of weird how little they taste like butter chicken.
(Nutrition Facts – 50 grams/per 27 chips – 270 calories, 17 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 290 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fibre, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)
Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Butter Chicken Potato Chips (Canada)
Purchased Price: $2.99 CAN
Size: 170 gram bag
Purchased at: Sobeys
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Inoffensive. Kind of tastes like cheddar cheese chips.
Cons: Bland. Tastes absolutely nothing like butter chicken. Killer of friendships.