Chicken 65 from my kitchen! I finally did it. After quite a few failed attempts, where I had got nothing close to the real taste, I am glad to proclaim that I attained the near perfection. I do deserve to celebrate.
For now you do not have to worry about the “65″ of the Chicken 65. The sensational taste, the tangy sauce hugging the crispy morsels of chicken, flavored generously with ginger, black pepper and light hint of fennel, has nothing to do with the “65″. I will come to that a bit later in the post.
Chicken 65 is something I got introduced quite late in my life. I never saw it cooked in my ma’s or grandama’s kitchen. I never even heard of it until I had stepped into this tiny restaurant specializing in “South Indian” food in USA. The moment I read “Chicken 65″ in the menu I was intrigued, more with the origin of the name than what it is. I could read that clearly in the description it had and it sounded lip smacking good. Ever since that day, I had been trying at home. Every single time, I was disappointed. I asked my friends who grew up in that region and have better idea about the recipe than I did. Everyone had a different version of the recipe. Some were deep fried some were not. Some used chicken with bones, others went without. Even the spices used were not the same. I was confused, frustrated and saddened by every unsuccessful trial.
I am not exactly sure if different regions in the southern parts of India have their own variation. Heck I do not even know the exact origin of this recipe. If you are interested in the “historical claims” to the name of this dish, you can whet your appetite in the Wikipedia…I think I would want to believe it was named after the year it was first cooked in the restaurant, rather than that it takes 65 days to cook this simple dish or even that it requires 65 spices. Because it does not require that many spices.
I have had Chicken 65 only in restaurants. I have had the good ones and the bad ones. But over all these years of experimenting and trials, I have realized all the “good” ones pretty much taste similar, with the same range of flavors and texture. So that is what had been my target.
I can get pretty obsessive about constructing that perfection in a recipe. If I have set my mind on to something, I will not rest until it happens, and happens right. So it happened with this one. Dismayed I was at the failed results repeatedly. What came out of the pan looked and tasted nothing like the Chicken 65 I am familiar with. But I don’t give up that easily and cannot ease off until I have had it in my grip.
So this weekend went into another trial and I am happy this was the final one.
deep fried with spices: ready to be coated with sauce.
I know this probably is not at all an authentic recipe. You have to trust me on this one. It does taste authentic or at least I can say it belongs to the “good” category.
The family had one word for it: “perfect“.
- 2.5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in 1-1.5 inch pieces
- oil to deep fry
- might need more salt to adjust to taste
- fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper, fresh lemon juice and raw onions for garnish (optional)
- For the Marinade:
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon red kashmiri chilli powder (use chilli powder which is less hot if you want less spicy)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons corn flour/corn starch (the powdered one, not the liquid)
- 6 tablespoon rice flour
- 1/4 cup packed ginger paste
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds/saunf – powdered
- a lot of freshly ground black pepper (adjust to taste: I used about 20 grinds)
- 1 tablepoon coriander powder
- 2 tablespoons thick plain yogurt
- For the Sauce:
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered orange or red food color or a few drops of liquid food color (optional)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 dry red chilli pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3/4 cup of thick plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup packed fresh curry leaves
- hot chilli peppers, julienned or chopped (remove seeds and membrane to reduce heat)
- 3 tablespoons oil