Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chicken 65 -- near perrfect

Chicken 65 Recipe

Chicken 65

Chicken 65 has lately become a very popular appetizer across almost all  Indian restaurants. We had first had it only in restaurants in southern part of India, mainly the ones specializing in spicy Andhra food. There are several funny trivia stories about the naming of this dish, which may or may not be true. My recipe of Chicken 65 is  about 10+ years old and is still one of our favorites. The last step in the recipe gives it a kick and makes it moist even when using low oil. Try it.

While there was much furor going over nothing and people were discussing gender issues and such, I had a very basic question to ask.

Why paint a child's nail ? Kohl rimmed eyes and kala tikka, I can understand. They are not makeup. There is scientific evidence that they ward off evil eyes.Or, maybe not. But neon pink nail paint ? What the good will it do ?

I have chipped nail polish on my toe nails from six months ago. The last time I managed to go to a nail salon, there was a 7 year old sitting besides me getting a pedicure. I cringed. Not because my toes could scar a 7 year old (ok, that is a possibility) but the fresh beautiful feet of a seven year old does not need pedicure.Period.

My 7 year old has had nail paint on her toes twice. Once she was at some friend's place and beyond my control, the second time she begged that I let her put on the only shade of nail paint I have. I let her because I had to finish some very important work and I knew if I let her do it she won't ask again. The nail paint has almost dried out and she has never asked since.

If anyone has to make a statement why nail paint, I say.


Before we delve into the recipe for Chicken 65 let me tell you Chicken 65 is NOT my birthright. My Ma never made it, nor did her mother or her mother's mother. Ok you get the drift, right ? My Ma-in-law never made it either. No one in my family has ever made Chicken 65 unless I go back five generations ago, at which point I have no clue. But by the theory of extrapolation I can safely say, even they did not make Chicken 65.

Heck, I did not even taste Chicken 65 until I moved to Bengaluru in my twenties. My first Chicken 65 was at this place called Krishna Chinnai in Koramangala. They had red plastic tables, blue or white or maybe even red plastic chairs, potted palms whose fronds bristled your bare arms resting on the greasy red tables in anticipation of the food.. We always went there for dinner, after dark, so beyond this I did not see. The food as I remember was hot, spicy searing hot andhra biryani, fiery hot chicken 65 and everything else with loads of kari patta and chili. That inspired us to go back there more often.

Here in the east coast of US, in the suburbs of NYC, where the assimilation of all Indian cultures is much more than I have ever seen in a single Indian state, Chicken 65 is always on the menu of an Andhra restaurant and on the charts in most Indian restaurants. The chicken looks red, as if the gulal from last Holi hasn't rubbed off them. I feel queasy. Sometimes they are double or triple fried in the stale hot oil of the fryer and I have second thoughts on my order. And yet I cannot get over those spicy hot morsels of Chicken.

Chicken 65 Recipe

Theory no.1:The story goes that an English traveller visiting Kerala in 1965 asked a chef to make this dish. The traveller expressed his contentment at the result and left, whereupon the bar staff tried the remainders, having never seen anything like it before. The result certainly was good and Chicken 65 was born, there being no other name for it.

Theory no.2:As legend has it, in all the country liquor bars, the favourite ‘food fight’ is: who can eat the maximum number of chillies? It is a symbol of machismo to be able to eat the most chilies. An enterprising hotelier capitalised on this and cooked up the dish Chicken 65, denoting that 65 chillies were used for every kilogram of chicken. Some chefs believe it is called so because of the 65 ingredients used in making it.

Theory no.3:It was the 65th. item on the menu of a restaurant at Palghat

4 years back inspired by fellow bloggers I made my first chicken 65. It was delicious. Over the years though I have refurbished my Chicken 65 recipe, bits from here, a little from there and slowly the dish started coming out as I expected it to. I shunned the red food color and the MSG(ajina moto), I adjusted the chilli when the kids wanted their share. Finally I can say I have a Chicken 65 that is almost perfect. People like it, the kids love their version, we love it. What more can I ask for ?

Chicken 65

Chicken ~ Type : Skinless and boneless breast meat or thigh meat. Chicken Tenderloins work best.
Weight: 1 to 1.5 lb
Cut in bite size pieces

Marinate chicken pieces in
2-3 Tbsp of Yogurt
2 Tbsp of ginger-garlic paste
Adding 2-4 green chilli made into paste adds extra zing if you want on spicier side
6-7 Curry leaves chopped
a little soy sauce(maybe 1/2 tsp),
2 tsp of Black pepper powder,
1 tsp Kashmiri Mirch Powder (for color and use according to taste. You can add Red chili Powder instead)
for about an hour
Note: If you can marinade for a longer time it is better. For a big batch, I try to marinate overnight, this gives the chicken a lot of flavor.

When you are ready to cook, to the marinated chicken pieces add the following
1 egg
1 Tbsp of Corn Flour
Mix well

Heat enough oil for frying in a fry pan

Fry the chicken pieces till they are a nice shade of brown on both sides. The chicken will be fully cooked on frying.

At this point, it makes a perfect snack for little kids.

Now heat 1-2 Tbsp of Oil in a separate frying pan or wok

2 tsp of minced garlic,
4-5 hot Indian green chili slit lengthwise and chopped in halves,
5-6 Kari Patta/Curry Leaves

In a bowl add
1/4 cup of thick yogurt
2 tsp of Hot Chilli-Garlic Sauce(I use this)
and mix well
Note: If you do not have the Hot Sauce, add 1/4th tsp of Garam Masala, 1 tsp of Maggi Hot and Sweet Ketchup, little salt to the yogurt and mix

Take the pan off the heat and add the yogurt + hot sauce

Add the fried chicken pieces and toss the chicken pieces in the sauce and bring the pan back to heat.

Continue tossing till the yogurt+sauce gets dry and clings to the chicken pieces. Adjust for salt.

Serve immediately with some raw chopped onions and wedges of lime.

Note: If cooking for a party, you can fry the chicken pieces in batches and store overnight. Before serving, do the tossing in yogurt + hot sauce thingy

You can do a similar thing with Fish -- Fish 65

My older version of Chicken 65 -- interesting stories in the Trivia


  1. I am with you. Our babies may look like dolls and its tempting to dress them up like dolls, but no need to go overboard. I've seen little girls getting their eyebrows done at eight. Its a bit too much, too early :)
    Your Chicken 65 looks wonderful. Thanks a million for sharing. This is one of the recipes that I can never get quite right. Maybe, I'll follow your recipe and give it another try.
    Is curry leaf the same as bay leaf? We have something called 'Tej pata, is that the same thing?

  2. Could not agree with you more on the nail paint thingie. I mean the same thing if presented by some other example may have made more impact or so I think.

    Thanks for the recipe as I have chicken sitting in freezer and was wondering what new to do.

    BTW, I tried your chicken kebab recipe recently. Made some tweaks but it was awesome.

  3. Sharmilee, Priya


    No, no curry leaf is VERY different from bay leaves. Can not substitute one for the other. Where are you ? Can send you curry leaves if you are in the US.

    Shreya's Mom

    What kabab ? I have a chicken kebab recipe, where ?

  4. nail paint thing is well said, in India though you see so many versions of so many things that at one point you will loose your track on right or wrong!
    about chicken 65 it looks yummy, by the way do you know the about origin of chicken 65? Must discovered be to impress some British vice roy and stuff

  5. I'm so bummed, I wrote a big comment and it didn't go through.

  6. wonderful and yummy chicken 65, but I wonder why it is called chicken 65 ?? any idea

    pls do check the event on my blog :
    seasonal indulgence : summer coolers

  7. The toenail and making little kids think they have to augment to feel good gets to me too.

    As for this chicken 65 all I know it tastes great and your version has to be repeated very soon in my kitchen.

  8. Oh, my bad ! Here I have gone through half my life thinking curry leaves and bay leafs are one and the same, food illiterate that I am ! Well, I googled it and found some pics, so now I know what to look for. Everybody assures me its readily available in Indian and Chinese groceries. But thanks so much for offering to send me some; you do show a lot of commitment to the followers of your blog ! THANK YOU !

  9. My search for curry leaves led me to this at Vicki's kitchen:

    Will definitely try it.

  10. I missed chicken 65 at Bangalore this time. And yes, my mom used to disapporve of little girls at Cal who would put nail polish after we returned to India. Was the 80s

  11. Sandeepa : Indian style chicken meatball. That is what your post read. Basically same mix of chicken diye I made burgers, kebabs and bakes meatballs for gravy.

    Is there a substitute for Chilli garlic sauce for this recipe. Have none at home right now. Will just hot sauce do ? Probably not.

  12. In these country, every single details are noticed and interpreted! I thought it is a marketing tactic with a pink paint :)
    My mom never cooked chicken- because she simply hated! I learn the Chick 65 with one of my aunty! ur version is totally different and looks delicious!

  13. That looks absolutely fantastic, but since we are vegetarians, I am going to try this with paneer :-)

    As for kids and pedicure, I just feel sad. Kids need no make-up, no jewellery and certainly no manicure/pedicure. They are so divinely beautiful, first thing in the morning. Why do their parents allow them to do this!

  14. You are right. Though I do not have a daughter and always I wish had one to share my stuff in my dressing table...not that I have loads of make up things,yet I wouldn't like any little angel with nail enamels and lipsticks or any other facial getups.
    Chicken it, looks perfect and yummy!!

  15. Shreya's Mom
    Try with hot sauce, will be as good. Got the chili-garlic sauce idea from Vahrevah I think and I loved it

  16. Dear S

    I tried your new version of chicken 65 last night.It was a glorious success. The hindsight is i got to taste just a wee bit as my 10 yr old on gobbled up the rest. I note to incraese the quantity next time. Thank you so much for the recipe. In fact had my maid andson not seenme cook the stuff, i could easily have passed it off as a product of a posh restaurant. Thank you once again.

  17. Mouthwatering recipe. Nice one... Want to give it a try. YUM!

  18. Chicken 65 originated in Madras in a hotel called 'Buharis". Buharis was a landmark in Mount Road and the best place in 60's to 80's for non vegetarian Indian and continental dishes.

    The menu listed the items serially and they insisted on specifying the serial number of the dish while ordering.

    Chicken 65 was morsels of marinated Chicken deep fried and served with a mint chutney and sliced onions.

    This signature dish has since been replicated throughout the world.

    I also understand that 'Buharis" is being relaunched recently.

    Thank you 'Buharis".

  19. Thanks K. Glad you liked it :)

  20. Ah, when little girls like to play grown ups or vice versa. Always makes for interesting discussions. I am totally with you on this, and yes, I too own one nail color, from six years ago.
    As to your Chicken 65, first Manisha with her chicken tikka and now you. Between the two of you, I have to make some chiken bites even if it mean scrubbing and cleaning the sink and dishes with bleach afterwards.

  21. mee tooo put up near koramangala,its changing very fast

  22. i asked a chef in a 5 star as to why is called chichken 65,he told me that some 65 spices were added in this dish,for the nawabs etc........dont know how far true .......but kept wondering what wud be thhose 65 spices...i know only some 10-12

  23. I liked your recipe - its simpler and tastier than most versions I have eaten Sandeepa . Kintu onnyo pan ta tey ki fry korchhilay - begun bhajaar moton ?

  24. As for the nail paint I couldnt agree more . The same goes for dressing up little girls provocatively - check this link out on CNN

  25. Nice recipe. I want to make it for dinner tomorrow. Just curious...I wanted to serve it with naan, but I feel it's a very dry dish. Would fried rice work better?

  26. Newly

    Chicken 65 is more of an appetizer kind of dish. Will not go with Naan.

  27. I Love your writing style & recipes :)

  28. Everyone

    Thanks for inputs, it was really nice to hear everyone's point of view. Now, horror of horrors, my 7 year old has been invited to a class mate's b'day party at a place where guess what, they do mani-pedi-makeovers !!!! I had no clue about the place until I looked up.
    Should we drop in, wish the b'day child and make our excuses to be back home OR should I let the child be at the party but refuse the services ?
    I am in a quandary

  29. Sandeepa - I just realised I have been reading your blog for over 4 years now :) And the old Chicken 65 was the first recipe I tried off your blog. I went to that post now and found my comment from back then, and your reply!

    This sounds as good as before - will try it. Thanks.

  30. Much amazed at an associated article with this great site ..'how to clean a Bong?'.Though it does not take away anything from the merits of the ever-delectable 'shukto' recipe and fab pics herein.

  31. Just saw this post while going through your blog and I'm very curious about what you did for the birthday party. Did you let your daughter stay or did you leave the party early?

    1. Well she did go to the party and stayed. Thankfully it was not like what i was thinking. You could choose different themes and this particular b'day girl's mom chose stuff like -- t-shirt painting, some games and a hair do thing in which they did up hair but very basic stuff like binuni and top knot etc.. So it was actually ok :)
      I must admit that since this post I have opened up more and do allow nail paints on the toes for my 8 yr. old on occasions :-D I think I have realized I need to pick the right battles.

  32. Hi Sandeepadi, I am huge fan or yours and an ardent follower of your blog. I made this Chicekn65 dish verbatim from your blog and it was a huge success. Actually it got finished before i got a chance to taste a big THANK YOU to you!!!!


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