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butter chicken dispute has captured Indian TV broadcasters' attention as they are running segments on history of the dish

A freshly prepared butter chicken dish is placed on a table inside the Moti Mahal Delux restaurant in New Delhi, India, January 23, 2024. — Reuters

One of India's most well-known meals outside of the country is butter chicken, which is both tasty and controversial, with two Indian restaurant groups battling it out in court over who invented it.

The Gujral family, owners of a famed Delhi restaurant brand, Moti Mahal, filed a 2,752-page court filing against rival chain Daryaganj, accusing it of falsely claiming to have invented the popular curry dish, dal makhani, and claiming it was invented in the 1930s.

The lawsuit, which has become a "hot" topic across India, alleges that the founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, created the dish in Peshawar before moving to Delhi.

The Gujral family is seeking $240,000 in damages, also alleging that Daryaganj has copied the layout of Moti Mahal's website and "the look and feel" of its restaurants, Reuters reported.

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

Moti Mahal Delux Managing Director Monish Gujral shows photographs of celebrities and politicians inside the restaurant in New Delhi, India, January 23, 2024. — ReutersMoti Mahal Delux Managing Director Monish Gujral shows photographs of celebrities and politicians inside the restaurant in New Delhi, India, January 23, 2024. — Reuters
Moti Mahal Delux Managing Director Monish Gujral shows photographs of celebrities and politicians inside the restaurant in New Delhi, India, January 23, 2024. — Reuters 

Daryaganj, founded in 2019, argues that its late family member, Kundan Lal Jaggi, partnered with Gujral in 1947 to open a Delhi restaurant and invented the dish, which it claims is the right to claim.

They have shared a hand-written partnership document from 1949 to support their argument.

The dispute has captured the nation's attention with Indian TV broadcasters running segments on the history of the dish and debate raging on social media.

Made with tandoor-cooked chicken pieces mixed in a tomato gravy with dollops of cream and butter, the dish was ranked 43rd in a list of the world's "best dishes" by TasteAtlas as rated by nearly 400,000 users.

It was the second-ranked Indian food after butter garlic naan bread. The two are often paired together.

The case was first heard by the Delhi High Court last week and the next hearing is scheduled for May.


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