Kundan Lal Gujral
Kundan Lal Gujral
|Spouse(s)||Ram Prakash Devi|
|Cooking style||Indian cuisine|
|Website||Moti Mahal Delux|
Kundan Lal Gujral (c.1902 - 1997) was an Indian chef and restaurateur. He invented several Indian dishes which have since become popular worldwide, including butter chicken, tandoori chicken and dal makhani. He was the founder of the restaurant chain Moti Mahal Delux.
Kundan Lal Gujral was born around1902 to Diwan Chand Gujral and Maya Devi in Chakwal District of Undivided Punjab, British India. His only brother Chunni Lal died at the age of 18 due to Pneumonia. His father was a cloth merchant. Kundan Lal Gujral completed his matriculation in India ( now Pakistan ). In c.1920 he started working at a small eatery called Moti Mahal, owned by Mokha Singh Lamba in Peshawar, Pakistan. He married Ram Prakash Devi and was blessed with a son, Nand Lal Gujral on 26 November 1935.
The invention of tandoori chicken
Gujral started as a chef in a small restaurant owned by Mokha Singh Lamba in Gora Bazaar, Peshawar, Pakistan. He experimented by skewering yogurt marinated pieces of chicken and sticking them into the tandoor (which was previously used only for Breads). This experiment led to the famous dish tandoori chicken. Tandoori chicken is another popular dish in Indian restaurants around the world.
The invention of butter chicken
To avoid the wastage of the leftover or not sold tandoori tikkas (marinated pieces of chicken cooked in a tandoor) and due to the lack of refrigeration facilities at that time, Gujral added tomato gravy with butter and cream to the tandoori tikkas to soften the chicken so that he can sell it again the other day. This culinary accident led to the famous butter chicken. Today, butter chicken is the most popular curries in Indian restaurants around the world.
The invention of dal makhani
Gujral is also known for inventing dal makhani which is a mildly spiced pulses curry made with the combination of tangy tomatoes, butter, and rich cream. This combination of mixed spices and dairy products is known as famous dal makhani.
After having fled Pakistan, Kundan Lal Gujral settled in Delhi and opened a small dhaba (roadside eatery) to introduce Delhiites to the tandoori chicken. He bought a small space in Daryaganj and set up Moti Mahal. The place quickly proved popular and within a year Kundan Lal Gujral bought the adjoining area, turning his eatery into a 400 seat restaurant. Dignitaries like former Indian Prime Ministers, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, former Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain, actors Raj Kapoor and Nargis, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev are among the famous patrons.
He served his iconic dishes, the butter chicken and the dal makhani here. Later in 1970's Kundan Lal son, Nand Lal Gujral expanded Moti Mahal in South Delhi to establish Moti Mahal Delux chain of restaurants. Currently, Kundan Lal Gujral’s grandson, Monish Gujral has instituted Moti Mahal Delux Management Services in 2003 by expanding the business into franchises across India. Today, it has grown from a small restaurant in Old Delhi to a modern eating chain with more than 150 franchises in India and worldwide.
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