IP & Litigation

Who Invented Butter Chicken & Dal Makhani? The Courts Get Involved In A Dispute Between Two Iconic Restaurants Over Claim Of The Invention In Tag Line   

/ / Who Invented Butter Chicken & Dal Makhani? The Courts Get Involved In A Dispute Between Two Iconic Restaurants Over Claim Of The Invention In Tag Line   

For years, Moti Mahal and Daryaganj have asserted their roles as the pioneers behind these iconic dishes. But only one, i.e. Daryaganj uses the tagline – By the inventors of Dal Makhani & Butter Chicken. And this has what has landed the two in a face off in court.  

Let’s travel back in time a bit. The story begins in 1947 when three friends, Kundan Lal Jaggi, Kundan Lal Gujral, and Thakur Dass Mago, arrived in Delhi as refugees from Peshawar. Together, they established Moti Mahal in Daryaganj, starting as a small Tandoori food restaurant. Over time, Moti Mahal became a culinary landmark, drawing people from far and wide to savor its famous Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani, and tandoori delicacies. Eventually, Thakur Dass left the business, and in 1992, Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral went their separate ways, leading to the evolution of the Moti Mahal brand. 

 In 2019, childhood friends Raghav Jaggi and Amit Bagga founded Daryaganj, paying homage to Raghav’s grandfather, Kundan Lal Jaggi, one of the original Moti Mahal founders. Although a newcomer in the culinary scene, Daryaganj rapidly gained popularity in Delhi for its Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. The restaurant’s mission is to celebrate Jaggi’s culinary legacy and the resilience of the Punjabi refugees who migrated to Delhi in 1947. 

 Daryaganj’s founders, Raghav Jaggi and Amit Bagga, have not only embraced their culinary heritage but also secured the trademark ‘Daryaganj – By the Inventors of Butter Chicken & Dal Makhani.’ This trademark, registered unopposed in 2018, solidifies their claim to the iconic dishes. The restaurant aims to preserve traditional cooking techniques and recreate dining experiences reminiscent of the 20th-century Daryaganj lanes, evoking nostalgia. 

 Despite being a new player, Daryaganj has rapidly climbed the popularity charts in Delhi. Their appearance on Shark Tank Season 2 led to a successful deal, providing the brand with a significant boost. Currently boasting 10 outlets, Daryaganj has ambitious plans for expansion, including Pan-India locations and an international outpost in Thailand. 

 The owners of Moti Mahal have submitted before the Delhi high court that it was their predecessor Late Kundal Lal Gujral who invented Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. They have sued Daryaganj restaurant for “misleading people into believing” that their predecessor Late Kundan Lal Jaggi was the inventor of the two dishes. 

 Moti Mahal’s owners have moved the high court to stop Daryaganj restaurants’ owners from making such claims. They have also asked the court to stop Daryaganj from using the tag line “by the inventors of butter chicken and dal makhani” on their website 

 The restaurant claims that Gujral invented the Butter Chicken recipe in an effort to utilise leftovers of chicken. He invented the Butter Chicken sauce to keep the leftover chicken hydrated and prevent wastage. 

They claim that invention of Dal Makhani is closely linked with the invention of Butter Chicken as same recipe was used with Black lentils to create Dal Makhani around the same time. 

Sandeep Sethi, Senior Counsel for Moti Mahal, argued that “Plaintiffs (Moti Mahal), both collectively and individually, are the owners of the famous trademark “MOTI MAHAL” and related formative marks, used in relation to restaurants operating nationally and internationally since 1920.” 

 Sethi contended “…the Defendants (Daryaganj) are misleading the public into believing that their “DARYAGANJ” restaurants are connected with the Plaintiffs’ predecessor’s first “MOTI MAHAL” restaurant in Daryaganj. This misleading representation is evidenced, according to Mr. Sethi, by the Defendants’ use of a picture of the Plaintiffs’ predecessor, the (late) Kundan Lal Gujral, on their Facebook page, misrepresenting it as that of the Defendants’ predecessor, (late) Kundan Lal Jaggi. Furthermore, Mr. Sethi highlights Defendants’ (Daryaganj’s) manipulation of the photograph of the Moti Mahal Restaurant in Peshawar on their website,…substantiating this claim with a comparison to the ‘original’ photograph shown at Plaintiffs’ (Moti Mahal’s) own website.” the high court order issuing summons read. 

 Regarding this photograph, Amit Sibal, Senior Counsel representing the Dayaganj, said that the said restaurant was established jointly by predecessors of both parties, thus invalidating any claims of exclusive rights over the image that the Moti Mahal’s might claim.  

Sibal underscored that the Daryaganj 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. However, Sibal acting on instructions and without prejudice Defendants’ rights and contentions, offered a conciliatory gesture and committed to remove the disputed photograph from their website within one week.  

 The Delhi High Court has listed the matter for further hearing on May 29. 


Image source: https://www.facebook.com/thedaryaganj/

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