A Delicious Legal Battle Over Who Invented Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani

The Delhi High Court will soon decide which of the two famous restaurants in Delhi, Moti Mahal or Daryaganj, invented Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. Moti Mahal owners have filed a suit in the Delhi High Court accusing Daryaganj of falsely using the tagline, “Inventors of Butter Chicken & Dal Makhani” without permission, alleging that such claims mislead the public into believing there is an association between the two establishments. However, the two restaurants have a shared history which has caused the dispute.

A Little History

Moti Mahal was originally a small eatery in Peshawar owned by Kundan Lal Gujaral, Thakur Das Magu and Kundan Lal Jaggi, who decided to move to India after the partition in 1947. After moving to Delhi, the three friends opened their restaurant, Moti Mahal, in Daryaganj, which is considered the birthplace of Dal Makhani and Butter Chicken.

Claims & Counterclaims

As per Moti Mahal’s account, the credit for creating the recipe for what we now know as Butter Chicken and Dal makhani goes to Kundan Lal Gujral, who is also credited with inventing tandoori chicken. Moti Mahal claims that Kundan Lal invented Butter Chicken in the 1930s by simmering leftover tandoori chicken in a thick tomato-based sauce enriched with butter and cream.

Meanwhile, Daryaganj attributes the invention of recipes to Kundan Lal Jaggi, who improvised the recipe when a group of refugees arrived at his restaurant just as he was about to close for the day.

The Legal Tussle Begins

The daughter of Kundan Lal Gujral, Rupa Gujral, and her son Monish Gujral have filed a lawsuit through senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, seeking an order to stop Daryaganj from claiming they invented two dishes. Gujrals are seeking ₹2 crore in damages from Daryaganj for alleged misleading claims on its website and promotional material.

The first hearing was held on January 16 before Justice Sanjeev Narula, who summoned Daryaganj and requested a written response within a month, according to the Bar and Bench report. Daryaganj restaurant argued that there had been no false representation and that the original Moti Mahal restaurant was a joint venture between the predecessors of both parties – Gujral of Moti Mahal and Jaggi of Daryaganj – in Peshawar, Pakistan. The next hearing is scheduled for May 29.


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