Have you ever heard of the dish called Chicken 65?
Or, a better question would be WHY is it called Chicken 65?
First of all, let me start by saying that Chicken 65 is a very spicy South Indian dish. It is, in my opinion, a Indian version of the Chinese “General Tso” dish. The Indian version is tender pieces of chicken breast fried in a spicy batter till golden and crispy. Then the pieces are cooked into another spicy red-colored sauce till the batter absorbs all the seasoning and you are left with a beautiful red-colored dish with a crust of spice and heat!
And trust me – if you’ve ever had this dish before, it definitely packs on the HEAT!
Very few people know exactly what the “65” stands for. One account believes that this dish was invented for the South Indian Soldiers in 1965. Others think that the dish may possibly have 65 different types of chili peppers in it. Another guess is that it simply has 65 pieces of chicken in it. Or, the dish has a total of 65 ingredients.
Whatever the real reason is for the name, it hasn’t been revealed yet. But the only one fact we do know is true about this dish is that it was invented by A.M. Buhari of the Buhari Hotel Chain.
Chicken 65 is one of my husbands favorite dishes. Just last week, he asked me if I could make it EVERY WEEK going forward! Haha! I said “sure – from now on, I’m going to make it till you ask me NOT to!” But seriously, it is just one of those dishes, that is so versatile and flavorful, that you can just sit with the pot in front of you and eat right out of it – no need for fancy plate, or even paper plates! Just eat it shamelessly and old school Indian – with you fingers! LOL
It can be eaten as a appetizer or main meal. Since it isn’t a “saucy” dish, it is perfect as a snack too. However you choose to eat it, just make sure to squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it to add some tartness to the flavor, AND definitely have a few extra cold drink nearby to counteract any heat or tongue-burning, if spicy foods isn’t your usual thing.
Traditionally, this dish requires a lot of different ground spices so unless you have everything on hand, I’m going to show you how to make “Chicken 65” in a modified and bit simpler way – using some ready made Indian spice packs you can easily buy on Amazon or your local Indian market.
For starters – here is the Amazon link for the spice pack I regularly use in my recipe. I don’t follow the included directions because they are a bit lengthy and time consuming, but I buy it simply for the seasonings inside.
Chetna’s Chicken 65
Serves: 6-8 people
- 1.5 to 2lbs of chicken breast (cut into medium chunks)
- 2 Egg Whites
- 3 or 4 green chilies (cut into thin rounds OR can be blended)
- 4 cups of oil (any type except Olive oil) – used for deep frying
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 1 small bunch of Cilantro (OR Cilantro Chutney) + extra 1/4 cup chopped for garnish
- 1 small bunch of Mint (Or Mint Chutney)
- 1 tsp of salt/kosher salt
- 4oz. of plain yogurt
- 4 oz. of water
- 1/4 tsp of Red food coloring
- Ustad Banne Nawab Chicken 65 Box (Batter Flour)
- Ustad Banne Nawab Chicken 65 Box (Spice Packet)
- In a large wok or pot, add your oil and begin to heat on medium-low heat till hot. (make sure oil does not smoke)
- In a large mixing bowl, add your chicken, Chicken 65 Batter Flour Packet and 2 egg whites. Mix everything really well by hand or with fork till all pieces of chicken are fully coated with batter. Make sure no egg white liquid remains.
- Fry the chicken pieces in small batches (7-10 pieces) till batter is golden brown and looks crispy. (About 5-7 minutes in hot oil). Repeat till all chicken is fried up.
- Remove each batch of chicken and place straight into a large, wide frying pan. Don’t worry about absorbing the extra oil from the chicken after frying.
- Once all chicken is cooked, turn off heat for wok and put into 2 large spoonfuls of the hot oil right into the large frying pan with the chicken and put aside. (This extra oil is simply for use during the next cooking process.)
- In a blender, add the mint/mint chutney, cilantro/cilantro chutney, Chicken 65 Spice Packet, yogurt, water, salt/kosher salt, red food coloring, green chilies and blend together till it is a smooth, but thick liquid. (This is the sauce used to cook the chicken again.) Set aside.
- Going back to the frying pan with the chicken and extra oil, turn heat on to medium-high and when hot, add your curry leaves and mix in with the chicken till it sizzles.
- Once you start smelling the hot curry leaves, pour on your Spicy yogurt sauce from the blender all over the chicken, and then use your mixing spoon to toss all the chicken around in the sauce till each piece is coated.
- Cover your frying pan with lid and allow to cook for about 7 minutes on medium-high heat. (This step helps to make sure the chicken becomes fully cooked AND the batter absorbs the yogurt sauce completely.
- After about 7 minutes, remove lid and keep tossing chicken around every few minutes to make sure all the liquid is fully evaporated and battered chicken pieces get all the seasoning absorbed. Cook on stove for about 10 minutes uncovered, while keeping an eye on it.
- Once it looks like most of the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is a dark red color, turn off stove.
- You can plate as desired or serve straight from frying pan.
- *Sprinkle the extra coriander on top as garnish and freshly squeezed lemon juice. (You can also just add sliced lemon wedges on top, if desired.)
NOTE: You can use either fresh mint and coriander OR the chutney. There is no difference in flavor – its just an easier option if you choose. I have attached the Amazon links below for the Chicken 65 Spice Box, the Mint Chutney and Coriander Chutney.
The result is absolutely delicious and totally satisfying! If you have an opportunity to try this dish, let me know what you think by commenting below or tag me on IG @cmspiceculture.