Who invented butter chicken? Indian court to decide

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Butter chicken origins spark legal battle between Indian restaurant giants.

NEW DELHI, India, Jan 24: Two iconic Indian restaurant chains find themselves entangled in a legal dispute over the disputed origin of butter chicken, a globally renowned Indian dish. The contentious lawsuit, generating significant attention in India, involves Moti Mahal, a celebrated Delhi-based restaurant brand, and the relatively recent entrant, Daryaganj.

Moti Mahal, known for hosting luminaries like late US President Richard Nixon and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, asserts that its founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, crafted butter chicken in the 1930s during the restaurant’s Peshawar tenure before relocating to Delhi. In a comprehensive 2,752-page legal filing, Moti Mahal accuses rival Daryaganj of falsely claiming to have originated both butter chicken and dal makhani, another popular dish rich in butter and cream.

Seeking $240,000 in damages, Moti Mahal also alleges that Daryaganj has replicated the layout of its website and imitated the ambiance of its restaurants. Monish Gujral, managing director at Moti Mahal, emphasized the importance of preserving his family’s culinary legacy, stating, “You cannot take away somebody’s legacy… The dish was invented when our grandfather was in Pakistan.”

Daryaganj, established in 2019, counters that its late family member, Kundan Lal Jaggi, collaborated with Gujral to open the Delhi restaurant in 1947, asserting the dish’s invention took place there. To substantiate its claim, Daryaganj presented a faded, hand-written partnership document from 1949.

The legal battle has captivated the nation, with TV broadcasts featuring segments on the dish’s history, and social media ablaze with debate. Intellectual property lawyer Ameet Datta notes the complexity of determining the dish’s true creator, suggesting that testimonies linking specific brands to the dish consumed decades ago may be crucial evidence.

Butter chicken, a delectable concoction of tandoor-cooked chicken in a tomato gravy with cream and butter, holds the 43rd spot on TasteAtlas’ list of the world’s “best dishes.” The case had its first hearing at the Delhi High Court last week, with the next scheduled for May.

This news has been read 1594 times!

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