Chicken 65 Recipe. Chicken 65 is a spicy, crispy & juicy chicken appetizer from south india.
To make it, boneless chicken is marinated in spices, yogurt, ginger and garlic,then deep fried to crispy before being quickly tossed with curry leaves and chilies.
This indian chicken recipe is packed with spicy, tangy and super delicious south indian flavors! Perfect with drinks, as a chicken starter or a side dish with rice or flatbreads.
Having spent over four years of his student life in IIT Madras, my husband is a huge fan of south indian flavors.
When we got married, I didn't know much about south indian cuisine. However, over the years I have learnt a lot of dishes that he likes and this Chicken 65 recipe happens to be one of them.
Not just him, my 8 year old has taken a liking to spicy foods in the past few years and she loves this one as well. In this post I am sharing the dry version of chicken 65.
Origins of Chicken 65
Why do we call it chicken 65?
That's a favorite question of my 8 year! She calls it fiery & salty deep- fried chicken nuggets. And she is not entirely wrong.
There are many theories behind how the dish got its name. Wikipedia tells me that at Hotel Buhari, where this dish was made first time, the marinade contained 65 chili peppers.
Another theory is that the recipe needed 65 chickens. Down south, from state of Andhra Pradesh to Kerala, different regions make their own variation.
The robust south indian flavors packed in this appetizer range from curry leaves, ginger, garlic, kashmiri chili powder to thai bird chillies- few ingredients which always always make a happy indian recipe 🙂
Taste and Texture of Chicken 65
Taste of Chicken 65:- Robust, strong fiery flavors. It should tingle the tastebuds right away.
Texture of Chicken 65- The chicken has to be extra crispy on outside and succulent on inside. Image it like boneless crispy crunch chicken wings tossed in a fiery sauce. Crisped curry leaves and chopped garlic also add to the texture of the dish.
Which Cut of Chicken to Use
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat for making chicken 65. Dark meat from thigh portions is super flavorful and stays juicy during marination. They do not dry up while frying.
- Chicken breast will dry up during marination and deep frying. Avoid.
Note :- Do not cut too big or too small pieces of chicken. Bite size is right. Keep in mind that the chicken will shrink a bit when you fry.
How to Make Chicken 65
Largely, there are three main steps involved in the recipe of chicken 65.
- Marinating the Chicken
- Deep frying the Chicken
- Tempering the Chicken
The marinade for chicken 65 has to be delicious!
Since the tempering doesn't use lot of ingredients, most of the flavor of the chicken is from marination.
Marinate boneless chicken pieces in red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, lemon juice and yogurt for a few hours. If you are short on time, marinate for at least 2 hours. You can marinate chicken for 1 day.
The marinade gets its pretty red color from the use of kashmiri chili powder. You can use a few drops of red food color to give it restaurant like look but I avoid it. Once you marinate the chicken, a big chunk of effort in making chicken 65 is taken care of.
Tip: Use thick yogurt or hung curd for making the marinade. Both the chicken and yogurt will release water due to salt while marinating. If the marinade is runny to begin with, by the end it will be watery.
Deep Fry to Crispy Perfection
Coat the marinated chicken pieces in rice flour and corn starch and then immediately start deep frying.
Deep fry in hot oil to golden brown in batches. Overcrowding the oil will make the chicken soggy and the pieces will stick to each other as well. Drain on paper towel to get rid of excess oil.
Tip:- Once you have added the chicken to hot oil, don't toss and turn until you notice that the bottom is getting nicely browned. Turn over to cook on second side. I recommend using a cast iron skillet or iron kadai for frying.
Air Fryer Chicken 65
Yes you could air fry the chicken. Layer the chicken in the air fryer basket and add generous spray of oil. Cook in a preheated fryer at 375 F for 6-7 minutes. Adjust time if needed. These cook up quickly as compared to nuggets because the chicken is smaller in size. Fry in batches.
Temper For Extra Flavor
Immediately toss the deep fried chicken with curry leaves, garlic and green chilies.
This step has to be done quickly so I like to prepare everything beforehand- like wash the curry leaves, chop the garlic. The garlic should not brown. Else it will taste bitter. The crispy curry leaves add to the textures of the overall dish.
- Garnish with chopped spring onions and/or fresh cilantro.
- Serve this delicious chicken starter recipe with sliced red onions. You could sprinkle a little bit of garam masala powder or chaat masala right before serving.
- Serve for main course with naan or paratha & green chutney.
- You could also serve it as a side dish with egg pulao.
Tips & Notes
- You can easily make this recipe vegetarian by using paneer, soy chunks or mushrooms . Just marinate for 30-40 minutes in that case.
- Rice flour adds a lot of crunch and tastes better instead of just using cornstarch.
- Don't add very sour or too watery yogurt else the marinade will be runny and you will have to add a lot of rice + corn flour, this takes away the actual taste of the chicken in the dish and it starts tasting of flour.
- While frying, don't add a large quantity of oil since you cannot re-use the oil. It gets flavored with spices by the end of deep frying chicken. Simply discard it.
Chicken 65 Recipe
For Marinating Chicken
- 1.1 lb (500g) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 3 tablespoon plain thick yogurt
- Oil for deep frying
- 2 tablespoon fine rice flour, unsweetened
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
- ½ teaspoon indian red chili powder (hot) adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon corinader powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 3-4 thai green chilies, slit in half
- 1.5 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 12-15 curry leaves
- 1-2 teaspoon sriracha (or Ching's red sauce) adjust to taste
- ½-1 teaspoon vinegar or lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Lemon slices, sliced onions, cilantro to serve
Marinate the Chicken
- Add chicken to a large bowl. Add all the ground spices, yogurt and salt. Mix well to coat. Cover and marinate for atleast 3 hours.
- Set the oil for frying to heat up on medium stove.
- Mix the rice flour and cornstarch with the marinated chicken. Use your hands to mix and coat all the chicken. The chicken should look dryish after coating.
- Check the oil by dropping a tiny piece of chicken. It should come uo sizzling. If so, the temperature of oil is right. Deep fry the chicken in small batches on medium high heat. Don't over crowd else the chicken will be chewy. Fry all the chicken in batches and drain on a paper towel.
- Heat up oil in a wok on high heat. Crackle the mustard seeds. Add the garlic, curry leaves and green chilies next. Saute for about 30 seconds on high heat till leaves crisp up a bit.
- Next add the sriracha. Saute for 10 seconds. Add the fried chicken, add vinegar & sugar. Toss everything for couple minutes so that the fried chicken is coated nicely. Serve right away with lemons and sliced onions!
- Always use dark chicken meat for this recipe. Don't use chicken breast.
- You can easily make this recipe vegetarian by using paneer, soya chunks or mushrooms . Just marinate for 30-40 minutes in that case. In step 1, substitute with paneer in batons, button mushrooms, tofu or soaked soya chunks.
- Rice flour adds a lot of crunch and tastes good instead of just using cornstarch.
- Don't add very sour or too watery yogurt else the marinade will be runny and you will have to add a lot of rice + corn flour, this takes away the actual taste of the dish.
- While frying, don't add a large quantity of oil since you cannot re use the oil. It gets flavored with spices by the end of deep frying chicken and you simply have to discard it.