Who Invented Butter Chicken? A Court Is Expected To Decide.

Two Indian restaurant chains are locked in a legal battle to settle the dispute over which of them actually created the hugely popular dish. Moti Mahal's 2,752-page lawsuit is seeking $240,000 in damages from Daryaganj, alleging also that its rival has copied the layout of its website and "the look and feel" of its restaurants.

Tuesday, May 21st 2024, 10:40 am

By: CBS News


Indian food lovers have made butter chicken a staple item on virtually every menu featuring the Asian nation's cuisine around the globe. But who invented it? Two Indian restaurant chains are locked in a legal battle to settle the dispute over which of them actually created the hugely popular dish, along with another traditional delicacy, dal makhani.

Owners of Moti Mahal, a famed Delhi restaurant chain, filed a lawsuit at the Delhi High Court against rival brand Daryaganj, accusing it of falsely claiming to have invented the two popular dishes. Moti Mahal claims its founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, invented butter chicken in the 1930s when the restaurant first opened in Peshawar (which is now in Pakistan) before it moved to Delhi.

Daryaganj, which was established in 2019, claims the late Kundan Lal Jaggi, a member of its founding family, had partnered with Moti Mahal's Gujral to open the Delhi restaurant in 1947, where he invented both dishes.

The Gujaral family, in its lawsuit, argues that Daryaganj is "attempting to mislead the consuming public into believing that their restaurants under the impugned name are in some manner connected with the plaintiffs' predecessor's first Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, when in fact no such connection or association exists."

The websites of both the restaurant chains — which look similar — feature claims to be the originators of the two iconic dishes.

Butter chicken is prepared with marinated chicken pieces grilled in a traditional tandoor oven and then cooked in a thick, mildly spiced tomato-based sauce, with generous amounts of cream and butter. Dal makhani is a slow-cooked lentil dish, also enriched with cream and butter.

Moti Mahal's 2,752-page lawsuit is seeking $240,000 in damages from Daryaganj, alleging also that its rival has copied the layout of its website and "the look and feel" of its restaurants.

"You cannot take away somebody's legacy ... The dish was invented when our grandfather was in Pakistan," said Monish Gujral, managing director of Moti Mahal.

The Delhi High Court has given Daryaganj four weeks to file its response, and it will hear the case again at the end of May.

The legal battle has captured the attention of the Indian public, with some people complaining that such cases waste the time of the nation's courts, which are collectively facing a backlog of more than 50 million cases, according to the National Judicial Data Grid.

The imbalance in cases and courts available to hear them has resulted in delays in criminal proceedings, with more than 70% of inmates in India's prisons currently still being on trial.

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