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Chicken "65"

This is one of my favorite Indian chicken recipes. A spicy, crunchy dish that is coated in a sauce tempered with curry leaves, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, chili paste and whole red chili. It originated in the Indian region of Tamil Nadu, and while there are dozens of possible explanations as to where it got its unusual name, the one I have heard most often is that it was the #65 dish on all the menus of the canteens of the military bases in the area.

Whatever its origins, it is still addictive and delicious and well worth trying as a snack with drinks or as a spicy appetizer.

Top view of a bowl of Chicken 65 by Simon Majumdar. Text, "Go Everywhere, Eat Everything"

Chicken "65" Recipe

(Serves 4)


For The Chicken

  • 6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (cut into 1-inch dice)

  • 1 Egg

  • ¼ Cup Corn Starch

  • ¼ Cup All Purpose Flour

  • 1 Tsp Red Chili Powder

  • 1 Tsp Salt

  • 1 Tsp Sugar

  • Vegetable Oil for Deep Frying

For The Sauce

  • 1 Tsp Whole Cumin Seeds

  • 1 Tsp Whole Black Mustard Seeds

  • 20 Curry Leaves (Most Indian stores will sell these fresh or frozen)

  • 3 Whole Dried Red Chili

  • ¼ Cup Red Chili Paste

  • ½ Cup Water


For The Chicken

  1. Place the chicken in a bowl and sprinkle with All Purpose flour, corn starch, chili powder, salt and sugar.

  2. Whisk up the egg and add to the chicken.

  3. Mix gently so each piece of chicken is completely coated with the mixture.

  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.

  5. Remove the bow from the fridge ten minutes before you start frying to allow it to come back to room temperature.

  6. Heat vegetable oil in a wok to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  7. Fry the chicken in batches. Don’t add too many at one or the temperature of the oil will drop and the end result will become soggy.

  8. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes until the outsides become golden.

  9. Drain onto kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.

For The Sauce

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a frying pan.

  2. Add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds.

  3. Once the seeds begin to pop and sizzle add the curry leaves and the whole red chili.

  4. Add the chili paste and combine well with the seeds, etc.

  5. Add the water and combine with the mixture.

  6. Add the chicken to this mixture and toss gently until each piece of chicken is well coated.

  7. Serve immediately with a side dish of yogurt or Raita.

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