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New evidence intensifies India's butter chicken dispute

Food and Beverages

New evidence intensifies butter chicken dispute

A new lawsuit involving the origins of butter chicken in India is about to heat up due to recent photographic and video evidence.

Since January, two Indian restaurant chains have been at odds with one another at the Delhi High Court. Two chains are involved in a lawsuit over who created the dish. The lawsuit is getting attention from food critics, social media users, editorials, and TV channels around the world. Moti Mahal restaurant chain says it created curry and wants Daryaganj business to stop saying they did and pay $240,000. Moti Mahal claims that the founder Kundan Lal Gujral created the dish, which is rich in cream, at a restaurant in Peshawar, Pakistan, in the 1930s before relocating to Delhi.

Daryaganj has filed a new counter-filing, which is 642 pages long, and claims that the story of the invention of butter chicken is not true and is meant to deceive the court. Daryaganj says that the famous dish was created by a late member of its founding family, Kundan Lal Jaggi, who managed the kitchen at the restaurant's new location in Delhi. Gujral, his friend and former partner from Peshawar, was responsible for marketing exclusively.

Both men have passed away: Jaggi in 2018 and Gujral in 1997. The evidence in the confidential filing includes a black-and-white photo from the 1930s, a 1949 partnership agreement, Jaggi's business card from when he moved to Delhi, and a 2017 video where he discusses the dish's origins.

According to Daryaganj's filing, the collaboration between the friends has led to a situation where both parties can claim that their own ancestors created the dishes. Daryaganj characterizes this disagreement as a "business rivalry". Moti Mahal chose not to respond. On May 29, the judge will hear the case again.

The court needs to decide who made the dish first—Gujral in Peshawar or Jaggi in New Delhi, or if both should receive credit. Experts say that the inventor of butter chicken can have a big impact, as it is currently ranked 43rd on TasteAtlas' list of the "best dishes" in the world.

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