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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. PeaceandLove

    Ugh. I was born and raised Hindu, and this is exactly why I am now a nonbeliever. How greedy can my people be and they will stoop to any level to attain free money. Ridiculous.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Pradeep

      This is not about money you idiot!

      July 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • forum

      so non believers are not greedy?? u got stats to prove that??

      July 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • roshinobi

      I'm not Hindu and I'm not a vegetarian, but give them a little more credit. They specifically asked the restaurant if there was meat in the food, and the restaurant said there wasn't until after they ate it. It's not like they went out trying to eat meat so they could sue someone.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • forum

      and non believers simply suck it whatever thrown at them? literaly and figuratively?

      July 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tia

      Roshinobi, this isn't about them being served meat. clearly the restaurant made an error. However, if it is that big of a deal to Hinduism then tell me why the Hindu who owns the restaurant had no trouble preparing and serving meat in his restaurant? These diners want a free ticket back to India on the grounds that the local temple isn't good enough to cleanse their souls.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Lame excuse

      They are trying to take advantage of this. No sensible person would try to get their trip paid ... and to take a dip in the ganges? LOL chuteye sale.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • jaihind

      if u non believer,just shut your mouth,they are doing right thing..

      July 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Tax payer BS

      you were born and raised Hindu and you are still nonbeliever? well its not your fault its just that your parents did not know how to raise a child with Hindu Sanskar,

      July 22, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  2. RagingAthiest

    More fairy tale believers who need a reason to feel valued by appearing offended. Get over it, and quit trying to milk a free ride home.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Really Angry Christian

      I'm mad!

      July 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  3. Raja007

    It was a mistake . Now your telling me the local temple in the area can not " cleanse their souls " but instead an all expense trip to India will ? I bet they buy a Samosa there in India too and cause a ruckus to pay for there next trip to London. Messed up scenario.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • forum

      there is a difference b/n local family physican and specialist, u know

      July 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Lame excuse

      If they try to pull that one in India – they won't be going anywhere, any time soon. I am insured to the hilt, thanks to people like this. It was a mistake .... move on. Our Gods eat meat ... so get over it.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  4. Uramoron

    Stuff like this makes me not want religion. I'll be damned if I will ever be told what I can eat and what I can't eat!

    July 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • roshinobi

      Laws do that too. Try eating people or whales in the US.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Uramoron

      Laws don't condemn me straight to hell for all of eternity because someone else made a mistake.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Ron

      Then please stay away from this issue.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Lame excuse

      @ Ron. What issue? the issue of some people trying to fleece a restaurant? They should just cook and eat at home... oh and need to make sure they do the laundry before heading out....esp after deep frying those veggie samosas

      July 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  5. josh

    They need to chill out and have a nice juicy steak. Vegetarians are such tightwads!

    July 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • papia

      Maybe you can enjoy your dog and cat steaks!

      July 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  6. Mohan

    All the Indians calling this lawsuit frivolous are missing the point. I dont think the intention was to get a free ticket to India. The intention was probably to spread awareness of the fact that Indian vegetarians are very strict about not eating meet. The amount of intolerance that christians, muslims and jews are spewing here is expected. They are racists who have issues and are using this issue and forum to vent. But to see Indians criticize this lawsuit is just unbelievable. I think most of them are H1B slaves who dont really understand this issue. I support this lawsuit and commend the lawyers involved.

    Pradip Kothari who "has much to be grateful for in America" sounds like a slave assol who is eager to please his American masters. It is such Indians that I am most ashamed of.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Ron

      I agree with you 100% about Pradeep Kothari who calles him self peter kothari (C***ter Kothari).

      July 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • think again

      Their case would have more merit if they had asked for a charitable donation or make some funding for an awareness program. I am not going to buy their claim that they want to just go and take dip in Ganga matha.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  7. Cool Nikki

    Well they certaily fell into the American way quickly. SUE SUE SUE

    July 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  8. Mlb

    This cracks me up. They want to cleanse themselves by bathing in one of the flithest, most polluted rivers in the world. Really. They have a greater chance of getting some illness from the river then the meat

    July 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • papia

      Now this makes sense. This guy is thinking with his head most others are thinking with their ... you know what.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  9. Raj

    Give me a fu**king break.. those idiots should've been served samosas with baloney meat.. sheer nonsense.. I'm a Hindu, I don't eat meat.. but suing for trip expenses.. come on.. what rubbish..

    July 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • ron

      raj, u r batsred if the first order, you know nothing about hindu religion, u r shame in hindu religion.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Ram

      Thank you Durgesh Gupta, Sharad Agrawal, K. Raja Bhattacharya, and David Novack.

      Thanks for bringing this issue to public's attention. I hope the court does the right thing and reprimands the restaurant. Jews and Muslims should support this case because this could very well happen to them.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Ron

      I agree with you, but do not know the inner intention of people.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • common sense

      Agreed Ron – well said; same here. Ron, please take your hidden agenda and bigoted views back to your mathrubhoomi am sure there are plenty who will agree with your narrow views.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • common sense

      I meant – well said Raj 🙂

      July 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Raj

      Come on be honest – you wish you were part of the group. Free Tickets !!

      July 22, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  10. agavemike

    Sin is a voluntary act. I don't see how they have sinned if they are served something they did not know about and did not voluntarily choose to eat. Therefore, their case and justification for the trip is mute.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • JimS.

      Their point is moot, not mute.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  11. Mohan

    Hindu sinner should learned from Muslim who beleive in their religion 100% according to their Holy Book Koran . These Hidu sinner who are supporting restaurant owner should be ashamed for themself .,because they never care about their religion and their principals . I am proud of Hindu group who took this restaurant owner to the court and make them to pay .On the other hand these so called Hindu sinner could be Muslims who always pretends to be Hindus and hates anything Hindus . So watch out who these people are ?

    July 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • harry

      Dont make this a muslim-hindu topic. Thats would be way too cheap. I can understand your conviction in being veg – after all your name could be spelled as 'no-ham' !!

      July 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Ron

      The staff or cooks should be checked and find out who is to be blamed. I guess they serve both veg. & Non-veg. food. Vegetarians should not eat or order food from such restaurant because you do not know where and how food is cooked in back.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Ron

      I agree with you and looks like pradeep kothari is hindu sinnerand no right to advocate or advice. This is not his political ground where he has always failed.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • common sense

      Mohan – stop being paranoid. I am embarassed by people like you who always get distracted with the other 20% of the population.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • prateek

      Your claim about Muslims is completely out of context. Goes to show that you are confused.

      July 22, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  12. Annexian

    Come ON, they tried this scam on Taco Johns years ago;

    They (at least some Indians) came into a Taco Johns, demanded a vegetarian dish loudly proclaiming about how meat is evil, etc. Of course the pimply miserable employees slapped a big paddy of meat inside the "Taco Salad"...

    I happen to know a real "Indian" who's a strict vegetarian. Even after 50 years in the USA a student bringing a hamburger into her class sickens her, she says the reaction is like a human smelling burning flesh in a fire/cannibal cookout. Long and short a REAL "Hindu Vegetarian" wouldn't be able to eat the meat, or go in a restaurant it's cooked in...

    July 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • kathy

      Hey this is America they're not in Inda! Things are done very different here due to different beliefs!!

      July 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Harsha

      That is untrue, I am a Hindu vegetarian from India and many times I have no choices but to go to a restaurant which does both meat and non-meat dishes and order for a non-meat dish. You known very little about Indians and Hindus looks like, not all Indians are Vegetarians. What the restaurant did amounted to equivalent of feeding pig meat to jews and muslims.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • liberal

      I am with you.
      When u are very choosy about what u eat then don't f***ing go to a restaurant and order food moron.
      These so called Hindus make a big deal of meat which is senseless when they r not in their home country... at-most they should confine their practice within their households. By the way I am a Hindu and don't give a F**** about food.. I eat if I like the taste.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • papia

      How about eating food fried in cat or dog lurd? Or eating dog, cat and snake meat? Sounds fair? If not, then be fair and understanding. Think with your head, not any other organ.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Ron

      I guess you don't know REAL vegetarian INDIAN.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Raj

      @Liberal – you should be ashamed to be calling yourself a Hindu if you eat anything. You are NOT a Hindu.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  13. Lindalou

    Yes, it was an honest mistake made by someone of their own culture. Doesn't their supreme being condone forgiving someone for an honest mistake. An animal was not harmed at their command. Ingesting food not meant for them should release them from being struck down where they stand. They just sound like a group of people looking for a free ticket home. If you get your free ticket, stay there. We don't need more freeloaders here.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Ron

      You may not know about them but Pradeep Kothari is one of freeloader who is advocating on behalf of Restaurant.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  14. Juan Baptiste

    one of these holy men came to my house and my mom served fresh, cooked beef. He had some 'ginger ale' from somewhere before he came to my house. He consumed as much he could and ran at 30 miles per hour to the bathroom because of the ginger ale. My feeling was hurt . I went to the other bath room and got cleansed.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  15. joseph

    HAHAHAHAHA for sake!! these are the kind of people that would die of starvation in a supermarket.... this is why this world is screwed up.... everyone is money hungry....

    July 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  16. HinduBeliever

    For all non-believers - to those who are trying to change others - try asking a sikh person to not wear turban while flying on an air-plane - ask a Muslim woman to remove burkah or not cover the face while taking a photograph for US passprt .. where you draw a line - it is not for us to decide - that's what the court are for .. so let's stop this and invest our time in better things. At least I am going to do that.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  17. Gaurav Garg

    If it was my grandmother, I could agree with the lawsuit, she dint eat watermelon her whole life, because of the red color it looked like raw meat to her. She would use only wood sandals in kitchen, wont let us enter the kitchen without having bathed, she knew Ramayana by heart etc. etc.
    Imagine if she ate meat samosas what would have happened to her.
    This was definitely not expected from an Indian restaurant. The restaurant owners are rich, they can easily pay to cleanse the souls of these guys.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • TheBuckStopsHere

      You, sir, are an idiot and a fool.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • harry

      Rubbish. What do you mean by cleanse your soul... really. Where is it? A mistake is a mistake. Let it go. The only cleansing needed is for them to flush their toilet the next morning ! And your grand mom will never walk into a restaurant that serves non-veg food , I am sure.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Hot Patata

      Easily pay for 16 people to travel from Newark International to the source of the Ganges? All expenses paid? How can you assume that? I don't think anyone is arguing that these people were deeply wronged. I think the issues at hand are: 1. Was the harm intentional and 2. Does this punishment truly fit the offense? It seems that even a local community leader doesn't think so, and I would agree.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Deepak

      People who replied to your post do not realize the culture of Hindus and vegetarians. They are ignorant, the question is not weather their souls will be cleansed or not, question is their belief that it does.

      The same way a christian would believe that Jesus dies for their sins they believe that doing some penance and visiting holy places would clean their mind of guilt of having eaten meat.

      Having said this I also find it funny that christ would die for sins of christians. ( I mean I respect Jesus but how would anybody die for someone else's sin??? – one death would not be enough to wash away sins of billions of people who commit them day in and day out). But I still respect and do not ridicule when a christian friend comes to me and says that lord died for their sins and all they need to do is to ask for forgiveness for all the sins they committed.

      Think about it, do not just blabber without knowledge.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  18. forum

    "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. "

    only a hindu or indian would drop to such low levels and fight his fellow hindu or indian..Have u ever heard of a muslim condemn another muslim or a jew fight another??

    no wonder these hindu got their lives sucked out by muslims and we, the british for six centuries..

    July 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Ron

      Because they don't understand value of their culture and are misguided most of the time......

      July 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  19. Ron

    What is pradeep kothari and what does he care about feelings. He has no right to be in Indo american culture society till he learns hindu culture.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  20. Nova703

    If it was an honest mistake, no one should sue the restaurant. I cannot tell you how many times I have ordered decaf coffee in a restaurant and gotten regular. How do I know that? Because I can't sleep that night. Of course I get annoyed but never considered suing because I lost sleep and had to go to work tired the next day. I know this is not the same as going against your religious beliefs but intent or lack of intent to do harm is what really matters.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • forum

      would u be so cool if a chinese restuarant accidentally serves u dog meat??

      July 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Yirmiyahu

      You've never heard of the term 'negligence' ? You're pretty much asking to change the entire English/American civil legal system.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
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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.