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 Obvious

    Because cutting it open and looking at/smelling it first was too complicated.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  2. J

    These people just want a free trip to India so they're making such a huge commotion out of the restaurant's mistake. They should have just returned the non-veg samosas and got veg ones instead.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • MichaelK

      Such certainty in an uncertain world.. Kids!

      July 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  3. K

    Are these guys serious? It's just a way for them to get a free trip to India.....absolutely ridiculous. It's people like these who give a bad name to Indians and Hindus. Oh and by the way, I'm Hindu and I'm a strict vegetarian too.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • lwatcdr

      I am not a Hindu or a Vegetarian and I am no expert on Hindu beliefs but they do not give a bad name to Indians and or Hindu's. They are just people and every group is made up of all sorts.

      July 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Pilgrim1

      I like K do believe that these folks are acting in a ridiculous manner and do in fact bring down the name of Hindu, at least in the eyes of those who hear/read about this story!

      July 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  4. RaMo

    I have a cheaper solution. Import a tankful of holy water and let all whose souls have been contaminated take dip. The water can also be used by others wanting to purify their souls..

    July 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  5. swl


    July 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  6. florencia

    its ridiculous to ask for a free trip to india....

    I understand the "offense" to an extend but NOT enough to satisfy your needs to GET A FREE TRIP to india....
    and you want "cheese with that too?!?!?"

    i think the restaurant should or could supply them with a month of perhaps "Free samosas"? veggetarian type of course

    see.....done deal YOU GREEDY indians

    July 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  7. R. sanderson

    This is insane...can sue to purify their souls? I've had glass served to me in a soup at an indian restaurant, but didn't sue. I am a vegetarian and have been served meat, and didn't even get a free replacement meal out of it. If you're in a country where meat is eaten, be prepared to inspect your food before eating it, and deal with the difficulties. I think if they get a free trip to India to cleanse their souls, they should stay in India, and not come back to the USA.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  8. Jim

    These people need to suck it up. Accidents happen. I don't think the Supreme Court will allow it.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  9. wow

    If you're THAT over the top about something...prepare your own meals.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  10. Richard S Kaiser

    Indian writes; “Do you guys think plan have no life ? Cows blood is converted into milk and Sugar needs bones to make it white ......you don't eat or drink them ? stupid guys with stupid laws........…” on July 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Indian “Plants” yes are Life Forms and even Life Formations. What then is the Similarities regarding Meat and Plants?

    1. Plants utilize Light from the Sun and Dirt-Encrusted “molecules” to Build Upon their Planted Embodiments.
    2. Life that is of Meatiness are of Omnivorous Contemplatives meaning they consume Otherly Meat Encrustations and Also Plant-Based Substances.
    3. The Only Plant I know of that ingests meatiness is the “Venus Fly Trap Plant”.
    4, For a Human to be a “Vegetarian” is a Noble Gesture to Honor all Creatures of Life’s Meatiness.
    5. Our Civilization is Mostly made up as Being Omnivorous.

    In summation kind Indian I say, “No Matter if One is a Plant Eater or Meat-Eater Only or a Combination of being Plant and/or Meat eaters, called Righteously as Being Omnivores, ALL do Consume Life’s Essences regardless of One’s or Others’ Perceptions in Flagrant Animosities Disputability.

    "May GOD and His Gods and Goddesses Ever have Grace and Kindness shown to Us in All Our Present and Ongoing Future Into the Infinities of Spatialness"

    July 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  11. Shivani

    Wow...maybe it's important we know the full story before making our judgments. What if the restaurant owner really did just make a mistake? It was an accident that yes, 100% absolutely shouldn't have happened, but mistakes happen all the time. We wouldn't be humans if we didn't make mistakes. The diners did not eat the meat intentionally; once again, it was an accident and God doesn't punish those kinds of mistakes. These diners are just trying to get as much as they can out of this because they think it's a free ride.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  12. blue orange

    I've been a vegetarian for most of my life, and have also worked in restaurants for a long time. You have to have the expectation that if you don't prepare your own meals you might get something you don't want in your food. Accidents happen, some people don't understand what your diet is, you may even get sick from something. That's life.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  13. Randy

    I respect traditions. My best friend is Hindu and a vegetarian. But I find it kinda ironic when Hindus
    purify their soul in the Ganges, which is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Maybe it's not polluted in Haridwar, but I wouldn't go anywhere near the river is a major city.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • florencia

      polluted!! lmao

      true lol

      July 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  14. Rondo

    I ordered a hamburger and it came without meat! I was devastated!!! My life is now a disaster! I think I deserve money.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Gabbar Singh

      good one! lol

      July 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  15. fox

    We've became the land of tolerance to all people's sort of madness and extreme demands, at the same time that less and less true American values are respected. Restaurants make mistakes, just like when you order salad with thousand islands dressing and it comes with blue cheese. And now simple mistakes like this have to become a whole religious fight and cannot be forgiven? If you don't like our system go back to India! I am sure it is muuuuuuch cleaner and nicer than here! not really.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  16. Vegan007

    I support the principle. I have been vegan for 30 years, and to eat animal products would make me sick at this point, literally, as I do not have the enzymes it takes to digest them. We are not born with the enzymes to digest meat, it is something your body is forced to accustom to when your mother fed you apple sauce and chicken. I have gone to restaurants and have accidentally eaten dairy (cream) when I was told there wasn't any and have been severely ill from it. No need to be racist here, if they were told they were getting vegetable samosas, and thats what they paid for, that's what they should have gotten.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • florencia

      it is about religion since the main thing here is that they are "offended and HAVE TO GO TO INDIA TO CLEANSE THEIR SOULS"

      ok gimme a break...
      and did u read the end too?

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


      its ridiculous to ask for a free trip to india.

      July 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Nonimus

      No argument here. The restaurant was wrong to serve them, but wrong to the point of paying for a trip to India to get "purified," I don't think that is appropriate.

      July 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Nonimus

      ^ should read: "... wrong to serve them meat ..."

      July 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Human

      Return the meat samosas and get vegetarian ones. What the hell is the big deal. Correct the mistake without cleansing the soul in ganges!

      July 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Gabbar Singh

      You need help and B12.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  17. florencia


    if would be speaking italian by now....

    so stfu and move on...

    July 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  18. VeggyDelight

    What a bunch of idiots, for $35 snacks trying to get airfare to India to get over their sin. Can someone ask them are they really vegitarian?, the concept of vegitarianism is you don;t kill any other person or animal for your need. I gaurantee these people have all their cars leather seated and definetly have leather sofas at their homes and nobody knows how many animals are killed to build that.So buying good made up of animal skins is as sinfull as killing the animal. These folks might have done other greater sins than eating meat, few are lieing in public and private life,fraud,tax evasion.

    Even if you eat it by mistake the best way to get rid of sin is vomit it, if vegetarinsim only means not consuming meat.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  19. Ed

    How stupid to demand passage to their holy site. Then again it is smart that it is at the source of the ghanges...anywhere down streap and you could walk across that river on the human feces and polutants floating in that disease ridden waterway...typhoid anyone?

    July 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  20. Exar Kun

    Nothing like an article about a minority (in this country) religion to bring the racists and Christianity-only morons out from under their rocks.

    Also: I'm Pagan. I cordially invite fox and other idiots like him to come try to take my religious freedoms away.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • florencia

      why are u blaming the article for tall the " racists and Christianity-only morons out from under their rocks"

      is these all new to you?

      July 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • fox

      lol... shame on you... fake American.

      July 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
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About this blog

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.