A man in Victoria has copped a $1,652 fine for driving more than 30 kilometres as he defied coronavirus restrictions to pick up a butter chicken dish from his favourite restaurant in Melbourne's CBD.
According to police, the man drove from Werribee in the city’s west all the way to the CBD to purchase the Indian curry.
He was one of 74 people who were fined on Saturday for breaching public health orders, some of which included incidents where people were stopped on their way to visit friends or were fined for hosting gatherings at private properties.
- Melbourne man cops fine for driving for 32 km to buy butter chicken amid coronavirus restrictions
- The man drove from Werribee in the city’s west all the way to the CBD to purchase the Indian delicacy
- Victorians breaching restrictions can face on-the-spot fines of $1,652
While not much is known about the man except for his love for butter chicken, his misadventure triggered a meme fest on Twitter with many patrons curious about his restaurant choice.
'Free butter chicken for a year'
Indian restaurants in CBD also joined the fun, with at least two eateries using it as an opportunity to promote their dishes and delivery services.
Desi Dhaba on Flinders Street declared on its Facebook page that the said man was on his way to their restaurant to collect his takeaway order when he got intercepted by police.
They have now offered him free butter chicken for a year.
UPDATE as of 28 July: It has now been established that the man was indeed heading to Desi Dhaba to collect his butter chicken dish when he was slapped with a fine.
While Tonka, another Indian restaurant just off Flinders Lane told SBS Punjabi they believe it is "highly likely" that the said man was headed to their restaurant "as a gentleman was coming to pick up an order from Werribee on the same day."
The restaurant has now launched a 'Who is Mr Butter Chicken?' drive on social media so they can deliver some curries to the man "to soften the blow."
The restaurant has also done some quick maths, equating the $1,652 that the man had to fork out for his love of the dish to 61 such orders, which they claim "equals to free butter chicken for life."
'Butter chicken defines Indian cooking'
One of the quintessential Indian dishes, butter chicken is a combination of chicken pieces wrapped in aromatic spices and dollops of butter which acts as the perfect foil to the richness of cream and the tanginess of the tomatoes.
Melbourne-based chef and former MasterChef Australia contestant Sandeep Pandit says no matter how hard he tries to fight the stereotype, butter chicken has emerged as a curry that defines Indian cuisine.
“I have been trying to fight the battle that there is more to Indian cooking than butter chicken. But for what it’s worth, it is the dish that defines our cuisine and if you ask a novice if they have ever tasted Indian food - the first thing they will say is butter chicken and then perhaps comes naan,” he says.
While how and where this dish originated is disputed, Mr Pandit says it is arguably one of the most popular Indian curries that have acquired varied spins to suit different palates around the world.
"Butter chicken has a bizarre history. The urban legends around it claim that the Indian restaurant Moti Mahal made it and when the owner went to London and opened up a restaurant, he created a mish-mash dish that he happened to make with some leftover chicken tikka and tossing it with some tomato sauce and a rich dish was created."
Mr Pandit adds that while what happened with the Werribee man who copped a fine was “unfortunate,” the best thing food lovers can learn from his experience is to try and make it at home.
“It is not very hard to make this dish in a country like Australia where barbecuing is a national passion, and most households have access to either a barbecue or an oven at home,” he says.
'Flouting rules is just not the right thing to do'
Victoria Police have issued more than $1 million in fines since the coronavirus lockdown was reimposed in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire earlier this month.
Under the restrictions, people in these areas can only leave home for four reasons: shopping for food and supplies, outdoor exercise and recreation, medical care and care-giving, and study or work – if you can’t do it from home.
Reminding those who continue to ignore public health orders, Premier Daniel Andrews issued a curt warning saying all those caught would be fined.
“Victoria Police are out there, and they are not mucking about. They will fine you and not only is it not particularly smart to be breaking the rules, flouting the rules, ignoring the rules, it’s also just not the right thing to do,” he said.
If people breach these directions in Victoria, they face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses. Larger fines can also be issued through the courts.
Earlier in May, a group of four men were cautioned by police officers for playing cricket during the lockdown.
Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for food and essential supplies, work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. People are also advised to wear masks in public.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus