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Fun Time: Who Invented Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani ? Court Will Decide

Compiled/ partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/ partly written by Melvin Durai
April 2024
Fun Time: Who Invented Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani ? Court Will Decide

Butter chicken and dal makhani are among the most popular dishes at Indian restaurants around the world. Diners hardly spend any time wondering who invented these dishes, but it’s of paramount importance to two families in India: the Gujral family, who operate the famed Delhi restaurant, Moti Mahal, and the Jaggi family, who operate a rival restaurant, Daryaganj.

The Gujrals claim that Moti Mahal’s founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, invented the dishes in the 1930s in Peshawar, where he had the restaurant before moving it to Delhi during Partition. The Jaggis claim that their late family member, Kundan Lal Jaggi, who also moved to Delhi from Peshawar, invented the dishes while working with Gujral at Moti Mahal.

The Gujrals have filed a lawsuit against Daryaganj, which opened in 2019 and uses the tagline “by the inventors of butter chicken & dal makhani” in its ads. Submitting 2,752 pages in their filing with Delhi High Court, they are seeking an injunction and $240,000 in damages for copyright infringement and unfair competition.

“It’s an offbeat, unique case,” Ameet Datta, an intellectual property lawyer at India’s Saikrishna & Associates, told Reuters. “You really don’t know who created the first dish of butter chicken. The court will be hard pressed and will need to rely on circumstantial evidence.”

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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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