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July 21st, 2011
04:22 PM ET

Hindu diners sue Indian restaurant for selling meat samosas

By Moni Basu and Chelsea Bailey, CNN

(CNN) - A small tray of vegetable samosas costs $35 at the Mughal Express restaurant. But one particular tray, sold to strict Hindu vegetarians, might end up costing the Edison, New Jersey, restaurant a whole lot more.

The Hindu customers said the restaurant served them meat samosas, harming them emotionally and spirituality. A state appellate court ruled Wednesday that they can sue for the cost of travel to India to purify their souls.

Two summers ago, Durgesh Gupta and Sharad Agrawal walked into the popular Mughal Express on Oak Tree Road, in the heart of Edison's Indian community, and ordered samosas. They were strict vegetarians, they said in making sure there was no meat in their order of the traditional Indian snack.

Gupta said a restaurant employee assured them that it did not make meat samosas, according to court documents. A half-hour later, the two men picked up a tray labeled "VEG samosas."

But after Gupta and his group of 16 people began eating the triangular deep-fried pastries, they grew concerned they were eating meat. When they went to return the uneaten samosas, the restaurant said it had made a mistake, court documents showed.

Yes, the vegetarians had consumed meat and believed they were complicit in inflicting death and injury to God's creatures.

They sued Mughal Express but a lower court deemed they did not have a case - until this week, when the appellate court reversed that decision.

What the 16 Hindus want is compensation for a trip to the Hindu holy town of Haridwar, India, where the Ganges begins its downward flow to the ocean. There, they want to take dips in the river and, by Hindu belief, cleanse their souls of sin.

And they want the restaurant to pay for it all.

K. Raja Bhattacharya, the lawyer for the vegetarian diners, and David Novack, an attorney representing the restaurant, both declined comment because the case is ongoing.

In 2002, McDonald's Corp. paid $10 million to Hindu, vegetarian and other groups in order to settle a lawsuit against the company for failing to disclose that beef flavoring was used in French fries.

The company began advertising the fries were vegetarian after they switched to vegetable oil to reduce cholesterol, but the fries contained small amounts of beef flavoring added at the processing plant.

But the McDonald’s case may have been more compelling because it was not just an isolated incident of accidental service of meat, said Suhag Shukla, legal council for the Hindu American Foundation.

The Mughal Express customers who sued thought it otherwise. An Indian restaurant should have been more sensitive to this issue, they argued.

Still, some Hindus felt the diners were taking things too far. They doubted whether there was any karmic debt associated with the consumption of meat.

Pradip Kothari, president of the Indo-American Cultural Society in Edison, suggested the diners could easily go to a temple to cleanse their souls.

Indian-Americans have much to be grateful for in America, he said, and the lawsuit takes advantage of a U.S. judicial system that has afforded them individual protections.

"I understand how they feel," Kothari said. "I myself am a Hindu. But this is hypocrisy of the law."

And of religion, he said. "If you are a true religious person, God teaches you to forgive."

He did not know the diners, he said, but they should be ashamed for bringing a bad name not just to Hindus but to the
Indian-American community.

As for Mughal Express, there were no non-vegetarian samosas on the online menu Thursday.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Hinduism • New Jersey

soundoff (1,722 Responses)
  1. captain america

    these samosas eat delicious i would eat them all with no obligations

    July 22, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  2. captain america

    take it easy

    July 22, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  3. Ron

    Stupid Indians from India have a mental issue that Indians are grateful to be in America. I am myself an Indian in Fiji and these full of Hate Indians from India only are backstabbers and talk nonsense.
    The restaurant owner has failed in his responsibility and pay the due, perhaps learn a thing or two that he is in America and not India (and drop his Indian Mentality)

    July 22, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  4. rkidd

    I would like to be suing McDonalds, as they have desicrated the holy french fry.

    I would be liking 1 million rupees or 40 dollars and a trip to Boise , Idaho to be cleansed by the holy russet potato.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:07 am |
  5. Herp Derp

    Well this is about the most retarded lawsuit I've ever seen. Yes even more retarded then the lady who sued McDonalds because the coffee was too hot.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  6. Mike

    I see too many Hindu BRAHMINS here.. BRAHMINS are supposedly the most stupidest *no brains), weakest (no meat), ugly looking people.. Go back to your country you fools.. There are no caste system in my proud country..

    July 22, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • CptnAwesome

      Hi, you must be white trash; I've never read such an ignorant comment before. Way to generalize a huge group of people with such trivial terms.

      Also, the caste system is not prevalent in India anymore, barring small, remote villages. Please take your media-fed BS somewhere else.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • veggiedude

      I'm atheist, but if I was served meat and told it was not, I would think of suing too! BTW, Bruce Lee's daughter says her dad opposed eating meat and he was no weakling.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • Thomas McVeigh

      And none of them believe in deodorant either! One is a racist until one has to smell the unwashed stink of the third world. "Purify" HAH.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Conqui

      I am ashamed to see the number of intolerant remarks because of someone's religion and/or eating habits. I agree that the suit is ridiculous, but the racial and religious and other kinds of intolerant and prejudiced remarks are embarrassing to read. Those making these comments have even less moral fiber and less American values than the people bringing the lawsuits, and are the ones who should be leaving America.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:11 am |
    • QED

      Hey Mr. D¡psh¡t, unless you're a pure breed American Indian, this country is as much theirs as it is yours.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • Random

      Yes there is. Study your history. 1. Was it the general populist that started the revolutionary war? No. Just some rich land owners. 2. Do you think the average Joe would have a comfortable meal with the average successful politician? 3. Do you think your vote counts? No. Don't remember the Electoral College when you area in the voting booth.
      (Sorry for any poor spelling or grammatical mistakes.)

      July 22, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Thomas McVeigh

      Self righteous Conqui, did your elementry school teacher tell you this is all racism & bigotry? What is wrong with the truth? If someone smells, then they smell. If a culture hasn't evolved in over a thousand years and to this day there is the "Untouchable" class, then that culture is ignorant and goes against the will of nature. But you and your American elementry school beliefs will no doubt survive the reasoning of truth, eh? Most racism was due to the poor personal hygene of yesteryear. Today every culture knows to wash and use deodorant. If people refuse then they are wretched apes of antiquity. I'm also sure that your have no compucntion in condemning the United States for it's actions & history....but you think you are above bigotry and are of course correct? HAH!

      July 22, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  7. Sharky

    I'm suing Indians for diarrhea.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • QED

      If you have diarrhea, it's probably because you're still hooked on prison toilet bowl hooch; you stinking trailer trash mother ƒucker. Now stop dry hµmping your sister, and go get a job.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • Thomas McVeigh

      LOL – try suing for money instead! And leave the diarrhea with the Hindus and the mexicans... LOL!

      Racism comes from exposure to the apish smell of thirdl world populations. I am educated and well travelled. yet the truths I offor are ridiculed by sanctimonious liberal Americans who have never left their country.

      Similar to how Americans derided Bush and Iraq even though they attend universities, they can't find it on a map! ha ha ha

      July 22, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  8. CptnAwesome

    People like this annoy me to no extent. If you're living in a different country, accept that some of your customs will be forsaken. And to sue the restaurant over this is preposterous. Go live in a bubble for the rest of your lives, why don't you?

    And before anyone comes at me with racism claims, I'm Hindu as well. Just not r3tarded.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Thomas McVeigh

      Has anoyone in USA ever SEEN let alone SMELLED the Ganges River. It's a cesspool of dead bodies and dung – yeah right. "purified". f- them

      July 22, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  9. deep

    DON'T MAKE STUPID OF YOURSELF IF ANY ONE HAS EVER EATEN VEGETARIAN SAMOSA EVER IN ANY RESTAURANT YOU ALL MUST KNOW THAT RESTAURANTS ALL OVER USE SAME OIL FOR FRYING CHICKEN SAMOSA, LAMB SAMOSA,FISH PAKORA ETC, EVEN MCDONALDS DOES THE SAME AND INFACT 100% RESTAURANTS DO THE SAME UNTIL THEY ARE 1000% VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  10. Ghetty Real

    thats what you get when you cover your foods faces.
    you never know who or what your dealing with – or eating...

    July 22, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  11. Manish Bhardwaj

    I am a Hindu, a Brahmin, but I believe that this lawsuit is a very immature and trip making cheap lawsuit by a group of ignorant. I know they are hurt and I totally agree , but to ask for " forgiveness" they do not need to go to India, they can humbly pray in a temple or in silence, lord will forgive you.Lord is everywhere. Please read Holy Gita lord Krishna is the Universe. He is everywhere. Nar hai narayan, Narayan hai nar.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Thomas McVeigh

      A "Brahmin" huh? As opposed to an "untouchable" right? Let me tell you sir, your turbin is dirty.

      July 22, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  12. Deepak

    Long ago McDonald used beef oil and I used to eat their fries and onion rings. they lied that they used Vege oil and I still I never sued them.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Mike

      Stupid Vegetarian.. You guys should leave this country.. Either fit in if not stay the f..k out..

      July 22, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  13. corntrader19

    Oh, for crying out loud! It was a mistake. Get over it!

    July 22, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  14. yfnpb

    he he .. dumbfcks, making other Indians look bad.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Thomas McVeigh

      This is not such a hard thing do do, sir. thank you very much. Brahma, Putrid, Bremah, Bravo – Blessed Be Bophal , sir!

      July 22, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  15. hindu brahmin

    This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Yes, the restaurant did wrong in serving meat to a strict vegetarian. But going to Haridwar for getting purified – that is ridiculous!!!! Being an orthodox Hindu brahmin, I can say for certain that some one really trying to pull a fast one in the name of religion....

    July 22, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Mike

      Brahmin IDIOT.. Go back...

      July 22, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  16. ABDUL

    I am not a Hindu. But I feel that one should be served what he has ordered for. If you order Veg Samosas and get meat one instead; the Moghuls are responsible to apologise and pay compensation as per court's order. That's it!

    July 22, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  17. Deepak

    Why go to Ganges river,which is dirtiest and most contaminated in the world. I have suggetion , go to Missippi river, much closer and cleaner. It will clean you that good, that you wont need to take shower for next few years.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • hindu brahmin

      good one Deepak.

      July 22, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  18. Jay

    Why should the victims not sue the restaurant? Just because they are Hindus? Well they are Capitalist Hindus now, living in McAmerica.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  19. Gaurav

    They are not going to win. It's an accepted risk when you eat out that mistakes will happen ! Stupid lawsuit. Atupd lawyer taking on the case.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  20. Keemla

    Anything like this done genuinely out of ignorance and through no fault of the diners is completely forgiven by God. But if they insist and persist in making a major production then beware of the wrath of God !

    July 22, 2011 at 1:46 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.