Butter chicken fight: Daryaganj alleges 'defamatory' remarks by Moti Mahal

Moti Mahal sued Daryaganj earlier this year; now the latter has retaliated citing a Wall Street Journal article

The contentious butter chicken a la Daryaganj (photo courtesy @virsanghvi/X)
The contentious butter chicken a la Daryaganj (photo courtesy @virsanghvi/X)


Restaurant chain Daryaganj has moved the Delhi High Court against certain allegedly defamatory remarks made by the proprietors of Moti Mahal in an interview on the issue of the origin of butter chicken.

The Moti Mahal owners had earlier this year filed a lawsuit against Daryaganj claiming that it was their own predecessor, the late Kundan Lal Gujral, who invented butter chicken and dal makhani. They accused Daryaganj of "misleading people" on the origin of the two dishes.

Now, in an application filed in the above lawsuit, Daryaganj has raised concerns regarding certain "defamatory" statements in an article first published in the Wall Street Journal and then further circulated and replicated by other websites. They cause substantial negative impact on the Daryaganj's reputation as a restaurant, the application alleges.

However, the owners of Moti Mahal have asserted that the remarks in question were an "editorial perspective" by the publication and cannot be attributed to Moti Mahal.

These statements, Daryaganj alleges, not only disparage its business but also prejudices a fair adjudication on the lawsuit. It therefore called for immediate corrective action to be taken by the other side to retract and remove those statements.

Justice Sanjeev Narula asked the proprietors of Moti Mahal to submit an affidavit, affirming their effort to distance themselves from the statement in articles that have been published, within two weeks.

The proprietors of Moti Mahal suggest that the expressions found in the article were neither reflective of their direct communications with the media house nor their intentions.

For several years, the two restaurant chains have each claimed that they invented butter chicken and dal makhani.

Earlier this year, Moti Mahal sued Daryaganj for taking credit for the two dishes and claiming that there was a prior relationship between them.

Moti Mahal’s owners have sought to restrain Daryaganj restaurants’ proprietors from claiming that their predecessor, the late Kundan Lal Jaggi, was the inventor of these two dishes, which are now world-famous, and from using the tagline 'by the inventors of butter chicken and dal makhani' on its website and various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter (now X), as well as in print and electronic media.

The high court had earlier issued a summons to the owners of Daryaganj and asked them to file a written statement in response to Moti Mahal's suit.

In their suit, the Moti Mahal owners claimed that it was their predecessor, Gujral, who created the first tandoori chicken and later also went on to create butter chicken and dal makhani, and then brought these to India after Partition.

Counsel for Daryaganj Restaurants has vehemently opposed the claims and contended that the suit was misconceived, baseless and lacking a cause of action. The defendants argued that they have not engaged in any false representation or claim, and the allegations made in the suit are far from the truth.

The matter is slated to next be heard on 29 May.

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