Curry wars: Rival Indian restaurants in legal dispute over origin of butter chicken dish

Who invented Butter Chicken? Two rival restaurants in India have taken this curry war to court to decided who first came up with the popular dish

Two restaurants in India are in the middle of a legal dispute over the right to call themselves the home of the original recipe for butter chicken.

The dish is one of the most popular curries in the world, made with chicken in a cream, tomato and butter sauce.

It is dubbed one of India's most beloved dishes and one of the most popular curries in the UK.

The cuisine though is at the centre of a legal fight, as the two eateries Delhi Moti Mahal and Daryaganj both claim they were the first to create it.

The lawsuit to decide the matter was brought by the family who run Moti Mahal.

Moti Mahal claim

According to the Gujral family, the dish was the creation of their grandfather Kundan Lal Gujral who founded the restaurant in Peshawar, in what is now Pakistan.

After India was split during partition in 1947, they moved the restaurant to Delhi.

Moti Mahal claim they created Butter Chicken Credit: Instagram/motimahalofficial

They say the recipe, an indulgent curry that involves tender pieces of chicken cooked in a tandoor oven mixed into a rich tomato gravy laden with butter and cream, was invented by Gujral in the 1930s to use up leftover tandoor chicken.

Daryaganj claim

Daryaganj also claim they were the founders of Butter Chicken Credit: Instagram/daryaganjrestaurants

Rival restaurant Daryaganj has also staked its claim to butter chicken’s origins.

The restaurant owners say their relative, Kundan Lal Jaggi, had worked with Gujral when he moved his restaurant to Delhi in 1947.

And it was there that butter chicken was created.

This, they say, gives them the right to call themselves home to the first serving of the dish, a claim they say they trademarked in 2018.

What's next?

As well as seeking rights to the title of butter chicken inventor, the Gujral family is seeking $240,000 in damages.

Given the slow pace of India’s courts, the pressing question of butter chicken’s origins may not be solved for months or even years.

The next hearing of the case will be in May.

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