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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. GSA

    They didn't get what they ordered, happens daily. Sucks that they ended up eating meat but they should not be able to sue.
    They can meet at a middle ground, the owner can apologise and take them out back and hose them down, a lot cleaner than bathing in the Ganges.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  2. Vivek

    Hindus worship nature and believe they should not harm any of Gods creation. Hence they see God in all living things and are compassionate to animals. Compare this to Islam – Mohamed tells them to bleed a goat to death (halal). Millions of goat are slaughtered to celebrate Id. Christainity is even more ignorant religion bcoz their bible written by some ignorant people thought the earth was the centre of the universe this until Galileo told them they were wrong and church put him in jail. Hindus knew this fact before even before Jesus was born, When Alexander invaded India he thought he reached the end of the world was surprised when the hindus told him the earth was round and not flat. Both Christianity & Islam grew bcoz of forcibile conversions by different kings. Jewish & Hinduism dont believe in convesrion as religion is a personal experience. Regarding casteism this is not a religous issue but more a human tendency to divide people, we see that in Christianity Protestant, Greek orthodox, Catholics etc . In Islam sunni, shia, ahemdiya, ismaili etc. Even if u say everybody is equal and start from scratch , Humans will soon branch out into different groups rich, poor, beliefs, politics etc. Every Human thinks what he believes in, is the best. Today Western civilisations have grown out of this religious nonsense and have become secular. Islamic countries are still behaving like the 8th century and hopefully will realise the truth there is no Allah or God. India where most Hindus live is secular but it will take time for them to completely let go of their religious beliefs. In another 25 years prosperity in India will make them realise religion is crap.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • vivekyouramoron

      youre an idiot, this has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Your comment is irrelevant.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Vivek

      All I am saying that the people suing are offended bcoz of their religous beliefs and it is ridiculous from my point of view. Bcoz they are deeply religous and can't think rationally and they believe they need to take a dip in a holy river to purify themselves. I am making an agrument that its is their religous beliefs just like the other stupid religions around which make people do stupid things.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • r-hope

      You must have waited a mighty long time for an opportunity to vent on religiion... Wow! That you found a place to vent on Christians, Muslims, Jews in a news item about samosas and Hindu faith is desparate.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Vivek

      So the truth hurts ? Go read the bible and see why Galileo was imprisonned? It was not until 18th century the church finally agreed the bible was wrong about the earth. Today the church still continues to spew nonsense about Adam/Eve, God created earth etc.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Sapna

      The bible scripture says Psalm34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
      blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
      taste means test.
      You have not tested God so you don't know about God. I have experience it. The joy, peace and love comes from knowing the Lord. God works in our hearts and this causes joy, peace and love, this is possible only when you believe in him.
      John11:40 If you believe you will see the glory of God. I have done that and I have seen the glory of God.
      Christianity is not crap nor written by ignorant people but by God's spirit by his chosen people. If some one looks at the red apple and say its green in color, it is green in color for their imaginations but truth about color of the apple doesn't change, so the truth about the bible will not change based on what people believe. Truth is always truth and no one can make it a lie.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  3. nwi

    If the food was consumed at an Indian "diner" the odds are it didn't stay with them for very long. I once had what felt like a "spiritual" cleansing after over eating at one of those places.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  4. Mega Forkful of Yummo Tasty Drool

    Waivers of Liability for all restaurant patrons. Put a big sign up by the front door that states what kind of ingredients you serve. If patrons have "special needs", tell them they are free to either start their own hobgoblin free restaurant.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Get Serious

      How does one sue for damage to a myth?

      July 22, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • xyz indian

      I am a Indian and a Hindu(non-vegetarian). This lawsuit is filed by the so called community called gujaratis, who are known for thier misery and do anything for money , I dont think religion, purifying souls has anything to do with them, their souls are impurified anyways. and coming to religion , no where in hinduism it is written that one should not eat meat, if so how can there be veg and non-veg hindus. This community is called brahmins who have linked religion to veg and non-veg(no where in the world a vegetarian is linked to religion). Also these brahmons are cunning, play politics any where they are , so beware of them as we are, and do not judge indians with indian brahmins.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Ruth

      Restaurants are there to SERVE their patrons. If you don't want to SERVE your patrons don't open a restaurant.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  5. what the

    Anyone is eligible for compensation if they have been sold a product that is faulty and sold under false advertising. The facts of this case may sound comical, but at the end of the day, this is a simple matter of the restaurant selling stuff under false pretexts. And they must pay.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Joel

      America: The country of 1,000,000 disclaimers because people fail at common sense.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Bkhuna

      "false advertising" ? Do you mean the silly belief in mythical boogie men or the belief that swimming in the biggest open sewer in the world will somehow get you connected to said boogie man?

      July 22, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  6. Mike12

    Make Big sense, Our stomach is not the graveyard for the dead animals.
    Why people kill animal and eat them. On other side they love dog/cat ( another animal). In this country you can sue some one to kill a Dog. But not to persons who kill Cows,chikens and othter Innocent animal just to eat them. Does not make any sense to me in right state of mind. I think The resturant has to be sued for the mistake.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • zlul

      dubya tee eff did i just read... Get past the age of 12 before you post..

      July 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Mega Forkful of Yummo Tasty Drool

      Ever heard the word Omnivore? I'm so hungry now, I'd kill Flipper for a tuna sandwich.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Joel

      I feel smarter reading this post. In a by-comparison kind of way.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  7. Rishi

    I am a Hindi from India and I DO NOT support this decision.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Anand

      You're a Hindi? I seriously doubt it considering if you were a follower of Hinduism you'd say you were a Hindu. Hindi is a language.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • @Rishi

      How the frick can you be a "Hindi"? Don't you mean Hindu?

      July 22, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Scott

      the letter "I" and the letter "U" are close on the keyboard, lets hope it was a slip of the finger.

      July 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Mike

    I'm a pastafarian now. The other night I ate at Olive Garden and specifically asked that the pasta be made only by 14 year old blond virgins lest my soul be lost to eternal flames. I later found out that the Crotchitelli they served was made by a machine.

    I want a free ticket to Tuscany!

    July 22, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Score.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • lawyer

      " specifically asked that the pasta be made only by 14 year old blond virgins"

      If they accepted your order, you certainly have a case!

      July 22, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  9. MusiVision

    Sorry but I'm with the diners. And if they the restaurant served an apple pie as peanut free and a kid died from anaphylactic shock, surely the responses here would be different. The same mistake could have killed someone. And the schizophrenic society which loves it's summer barbeques while loving their rescue dog while munching crunching away on charcoaled pig ribs whom suffered so very much before they died – is an animal Holocaust. And yes McDonalds is guilty of global warming. Cow farts... Factory meat farming stinks. Yes this is a rant. Yes I feel better. Yes I'm a carnivore. Guilty as sin.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Joel

      Yes, great argument. Let's compare death to reconcilable harm.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • zlul

      moral of the story? If you're that worried about your food, prepare it yourself, instead of trusting strangers to prepare it "perfectly" for you.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • xyz indian

      I am a Indian and a Hindu(non-vegetarian). This lawsuit is filed by the so called community called gujaratis, who are known for thier misery and do anything for money , I dont think religion, purifying souls has anything to do with them, their souls are impurified anyways. and coming to religion , no where in hinduism it is written that one should not eat meat, if so how can there be veg and non-veg hindus. This community is called brahmins who have linked religion to veg and non-veg(no where in the world a vegetarian is linked to religion). Also these brahmons are cunning, play politics any where they are , so beware of them as we are, and do not judge indians with indian brahmins.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • abc Indian

      "gujaratis, who are known for thier misery and do anything for money , I dont think religion, purifying souls has anything to do with them, their souls are impurified anyways. and coming to religion , no where in hinduism it is written that one should not eat meat, if so how can there be veg and non-veg hindus. This community is called brahmins who have linked religion to veg and non-veg(no where in the world a vegetarian is linked to religion). Also these brahmons are cunning, play politics any where they are , so beware of them as we are, and do not judge indians with indian brahmins."

      Yes! I be in agreement. I is also Indian. Do not judge indians with indian brahmins and gujuratis. I am from same community as xyz indian. We are never racist and communist like veg hindus. We also not very cunning. But our english be very good compare to veg hindus.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  10. Raheel

    This is so dumb. I am a muslim and there have been plenty of times where someone has accidently put pork in my food. I just asked that my order be remade. If it happens by accident, get over it. It is ridiculous how you can sue over anything

    July 22, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Iqbal

      Its ridiculous for you coz the victim here is Hindu..correct my friend?

      July 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • do baal

      I guess you have chosen this name only because you have one strand of hair on your head, right? Raheel did not say all Hindus are ridiculous. Only that these people are being ridiculous.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  11. Joel

    These Indians should be ashamed of themselves. Don't come to America and taint it with the added burden of frivelous lawsuits. If your god will only fogive you at one river in one city in your country- then you'd best just stay there, because I am sure you are mired in sin as a person. Especially one living in America.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Iqbal

      I know few months back a couple sued Applebee coz they served alcoholic beverage instead of ice tea....So, did you oppose it as well?

      July 22, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Joel

      I didn't know that story. And yes, I'd oppose their ability to sue as well. Mistakes and peon-pranks happen. People need to get over their frustration that they didn't win the lottery and stop looking for an easy-button. I have had food sold to me that gave me food poisoning and I didn't sue.....

      July 22, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  12. zlul

    Only in America...

    July 22, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  13. I like it hot!

    No, this is very serious business for devout Hindus. I have many Hindu friends and most will not eat food from a kitchen that also serves meat. It is an admirable religion of peace and they deserve the same respect as any other religion so all you "bashers" need to stop with the bigotry. On the other hand one would thing a devout Hindu would not go to a Muslim restaurant to eat, knowing they serve meat dishes. Sure the restaurant screwed up but they shouldn't have been there in the first place.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • zlul

      From working in the service industry both as a cook and server, I've learned one important thing. It applies to all of your friends and this article. If you are so worried about what is being put in your body, how its prepared, etc etc, then stay home and cook it yourself.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • bob

      mistakes happen. if you eat something by mistake, its ok. I'm Jewish and it happens sometimes. It's no ones "fault" but to sue a restaurant for over 50 grand(I am going to assume round trip tickets for 16 people is gonna be over 2,000 each) and then you add in hotels and whatever else. over "spiritualism"? i call BS. They are just trying to get paid

      July 22, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • The Hat of the Three-Toed Man-Baby

      "they deserve the same respect as any other religion"

      Which is none.

      July 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  14. ZysPsyk

    what a crock of sh!t

    July 22, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  15. Bryon Morrigan

    If this was a restaurant owned by Muslims who assured some Jewish patrons that they were not eating food with pork in it...then fed them something with pork in it, even though they clearly labeled it Kosher...I bet a lot of the racists and Christian Supremacists on this page would not be saying such hurtful things about these Hindus. Oh, and look up the origin of the term "Mughal" in relation to this restaurant's name. Next, go look up the history of the "Sepoy Mutiny" and tell me that this is just a minor issue. For a Hindu, this was worse than finding out you'd been served dog meat in your food.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • CT

      Your situation is very unlikely, as Muslims don't eat pork, either.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Jay Hatar

      Your comparison about Muslim and Jews is completely incorrect and irrelevant. It is incorrect because Muslims can't eat pork, so they would not be serving it in the first place. It is irrelevant because the article made it clear that the restaurant owner is Hindu, so for your comparison to be correct, it has to be a Jewish restaurant owner serving Jewish patrons pork. Even though it is a big sin for Hindu to eat meat, this lawsuit is frivolous.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      One: The comparison was simply made to prove a point. Two: The restaurant is named "Mughal Express," which clearly implies that it is a Muslim restaurant.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • hobie

      The Indian Mutiny was brought about because the Brits insisted Indian soldiers bite on cartridges which contained pork grease. In other words these soldiers were being ordered to touch/eat a pork by-product. In this case the 16 were not being forced to consume pork, so there is no comparison. It was an accident, and should be seen as such. Maybe the restaurant can compromise; purchase some Ganges water and ship it over here so they can cleanse themselves without having to travel to India?

      July 22, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  16. Pliny

    1) Prove you have a soul.
    2) Prove it was 'harmed'.
    3) Prove that a visit to India will fix it.

    Until then....stop emulating Americans and go worship a cow.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Hindus don't "worship" cows...and you are an ignorant bigot.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Resident Alien

      Hahaha, a fitting reply. I can't agree more.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • MT

      When in Rome , be Roman.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Resident Alien

      @Bryon Hindus do worship cows along with a lot of other animals. Infact, I know a hindu person from india who drinks cow urine. He usually gets it from india and says it purifies his soul. What do you have to say about this?

      July 22, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Resident: I'm a Hindu...and we "worship" cows the same way Americans "worship" dogs and cats. In other words: WE DON'T. Now run along to that Klan rally you obviously just texted from.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • MDS

      @ResidentAlien & Pliny: No, we DON'T worship cows. Please don't presume to speak for something you are clearly incredibly ignorant about.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  17. Another Hindu

    The headline on the front page is very misleading. "Hindus sue over Samosas". This is a group of 16 people. And they do not in any way represent all the hindus.

    And guys take your hatred somewhere else. If it was a vegan american who was served non-vegan food the resaurant would have shut down by now. It would have cost the owner millions.

    I personally believe this issue could have been resolved in a better way.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • ManiacalShen

      Your first point is just bad. Saying "Hindus do X" in no way implies that all Hindus are in on it, no more than saying, "Teens die in fire" implies that every teen simultaneously combusted. That is not how english works.

      Secondly, people do NOT have enough sympathy for vegans to shut down a restaurant that wronged a few. Especially since each vegetarian and vegan lives by a different set of rules. Many people will pity these Hindus more. They at least were raised to a religion that makes them think this way, whereas vegans usually make a conscious, extreme but self-inflicted choice as adults. Which isn't to say that it's right to feed one cheese, but there's layman logic for you.

      I agree that this could be handled better, though. Wanting money for a trip all the way to the Ganges just makes the victims seem greedy and crazy, which will garner them less sympathy in the long run.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • jaima

      Absolutely. My thing is there are "fundamentalists" in every religion. Mistakes happen for God sakes. I also agree with
      a previous reply from the Hindi community....they could go to the local temple and be cleansed just as well. God is not a picky God...people make him "picky". They just want a free trip back to India!

      July 22, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  18. Karla

    Remember the Indus that sued Mc Donalds for serving fries with their special seasoning that it seems had some beef? Mc Donalds was forced to change the recipe, just REFUSE TO SERVE special RELIGION needs by a SIGN that will expresses that they are not fully free of beef, pork, etc.
    This people want a free trip to India.
    You know that Brahmins get impure just by touching a lower caste?

    July 22, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Another Hindu

      Karla, do you eat rat meat? How about earthworms? How would you feel if someone decided to put that in your food.

      The vegetarian hindus go through a lot of trouble in this country to stay vegetarian. What they are doing is not in the spirit of Hinduism. At the same time the owner of the eatery should have been much more careful.

      Having said all this I would also like to say that I do not agree with the demands of the 16 diners.

      And take your hatred someplace else.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Iqbal

      Have you ever read any Hindu or ancient Indian scripture? If not, then I would strongly recommend you to read Gita so that you can get clear understanding on caste culture coz Brahmin getting impure by getting touched by lower caste person is a lie along with other misconceptions propagated by Islamic invaders and other people who were hell bent to convert entire India to Islamic territory by slaughtering or by other ways but could not succeed...

      July 22, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Ruth

      How about just TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT'S IN YOUR FOOD!!!!!!!

      I'm a vegetarian and I'm glad they are doing this.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  19. blacksheep

    Pathetic!

    July 22, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  20. Jose

    Completely frivolous... an honest mistake, from which I'm sure affected partons would remain "pure" since they didn't consciously eat meat. I am sure there are millions of vegetarians who have accidentally consumed meat products unknowingly.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Ruth

      NOT an "honest mistake". This is a vegetarians nightmare. I hope they pay through the nose!

      July 22, 2011 at 11:02 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.