New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) In a delicious legal battle, the Delhi High Court is set to adjudicate the rightful claimant to the title of developing the beloved Indian culinary delights – Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani.
The courtroom drama unfolds between the Moti Mahal and the Daryaganj restaurants, as they lock horns over the usage of the tagline “Inventors of Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani”.
Moti Mahal alleges that Daryaganj is engaging in misleading practices by suggesting a connection between the two restaurants.
The crux of the matter lies in Moti Mahal’s argument that the first branch of their restaurant was opened in the Daryaganj neighbourhood. They contend that this geographical association is being exploited by Daryaganj to imply a culinary relationship that doesn’t exist.
The case was heard by a bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula, who issued summons to the owners of Daryaganj, directing them to file a written response to the suit within a month. Additionally, he issued notice on Moti Mahal’s application for an interim injunction, scheduling a hearing for May 29.
The heart of the dispute lies in the historical claim of each restaurant to the invention of Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. Moti Mahal credits its founder, late Kundan Lal Gujral, with creating these iconic dishes that have become synonymous with Indian cuisine globally.
According to Moti Mahal, Gujral not only invented the Tandoori Chicken but also the Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani, bringing them to India after the Partition.
Moti Mahal’s suit reveals a culinary narrative where Gujral, concerned about the unsold leftovers of chicken drying out, ingeniously invented the ‘makhani’ or butter sauce. This sauce, a concoction of tomatoes, butter, cream, and spices, became the foundation of the delectable Butter Chicken.
Moti Mahal further contends that the invention of Dal Makhani is intricately linked to the invention of Butter Chicken, as the same recipe was applied with black lentils to create the beloved Dal Makhani.
While Daryaganj is yet to file its official response, its senior counsel Amit Sibal vehemently rejected the allegations by senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Moti Mahal, categorically labelling the entire suit “baseless”.
“He (Sibal) vehemently disputes Mr. Sethi’s contentions, labelling the entire suit as misconceived, baseless and lacking a cause of action. Mr. Sibal and Mr. Anand further argue that the defendants (Daryaganj owners) have not engaged in any false representation or claim, and the allegations made in the suit are far from truth,” the court order said.
They further underscored the joint establishment of the first Moti Mahal restaurant in Peshawar by predecessors of both parties – Gujral of Moti Mahal and Jaggi of Daryaganj restaurant.
Regarding the photograph of the Moti Mahal restaurant in Peshawar, Sibal elucidated that the said restaurant was established jointly by predecessors of both parties, thus invalidating any claims of exclusive rights over the image that the plaintiffs might claim.
“Mr. Sibal underscores that the defendants are equally entitled to use this photograph. He gives emphasis to the fact that the photograph on the defendants’ website has been cropped to exclude the term ‘MOTI MAHAL’, rendering the Plaintiffs’ grievance unfounded,” the court noted.
Senior advocate Sibal, along with advocates Pravin Anand, Dhruv Anand, among others appeared for the owners of Daryaganj restaurant, while senior advocate Sethi and Chander M. Lall, and more represented Moti Mahal.