Chicken 65 is easily one of the more popular Indian chicken appetizers, because let’s face it, it’s one of the best things you can do with chicken. Okay fine, that’s debatable (especially for a chicken lover like me) but you get the point.
That being said, there are many ways this dish can be made, with different cooking methods, flavor combinations, and even varying consistency (dry vs gravy).
The Chicken 65 Recipe I am sharing today is a more traditionally spiced, deep-fried and dry version of the dish. It’s also the more popular version (not to mention the yummier one too).
Though I have shared tips to make variations of this recipe, especially to avoid deep frying.
What is Chicken 65?
Chicken 65 (at its core) is a deep fried boneless chicken appetizer which when spiced to perfection is a super delicious treat that will be the star of any event or party you make it for.
But it’s really simple and easy to make, enough that you can choose to indulge in it any time you want.
All you need to do is spice it right, and fry the chicken pieces till they develop a crunchy outer coating, while remaining juicy and delicious on the inside. Tempering is optional, but highly recommended.
And voila, your hot, spicy, and super delicious chicken appetizer is ready. (step by step recipe below)
How did Chicken 65 get its name?
When a dish has a name like this, and is so widely known (and loved), it’s obvious that people will be curious about the origin of the name. I was too. But when I did my “google research”, I came across several theories, ranging from slightly odd to kinda weird to absolutely absurd.
Some said the 65 came from the chicken being exactly 65 days old, others said the name was derived from cutting the chicken into 65 pieces. Some even said it involved using exactly 65 ingredients (*shudders*).
Because honestly, as much as I love cooking, I am skeptical about ever making a dish that will require 65 ingredients. Thankfully this one doesn’t.
Anyway the most popular (and probable) theory is that this dish was simply the 65th dish on the menu of a Military Canteen in Tamil Nadu (India), and was addressed by the number because of the language barrier faced by many military officers who came into this canteen from all over the country and could not read/speak Tamil well.
Sometimes a little history is interesting, right?
Anyway, moving on to the step by step recipe for preparing chicken 65.
How to Make Chicken 65
1. Clean and cut the boneless chicken thighs into bite sized chunks. I cut into small cubes, but if you want to cut it any other way – that’s fine too.
However do ensure to cut the chicken into (approximately) same sized pieces. It will make it easier to fry evenly.
2. Once you have cut the chicken into bite sized chunks, it’s time to make the marinade. For which you need to beat 2 eggs, and add ginger garlic paste, and the spices listed in the ingredients (salt, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder) to it, and mix well.
3. Once you have combined all the spices well to get a smooth paste like consistency, apply this marinade to the chicken cubes / pieces. Then refrigerate the marinated chicken for 4-6 hours.
4. When you are ready to fry the chicken, take the marinated chicken out of the fridge, and let it thaw for at-least 30 minutes at room temperature, before you add it to the hot oil. This is to ensure the chicken doesn’t go from one extreme temperature in the fridge to the other extreme in hot oil in a matter of minutes.
5. Right before you are ready to fry the chicken pieces, add cornflour and rice flour to the marinated chicken cubes, and mix well. Cornflour is good for binding, and the rice flour will help give that crispy texture to chicken pieces.
6. Heat up the oil to fry the chicken, and then deep fry the chicken cubes, a few at a time, without overcrowding the pan.
As over-crowding the pan will bring down the temperature of the oil, which will in turn lead to the chicken retaining a lot of oil on the surface and not crisping up as well.
Frying time will vary depending on the size of the pan and size of the batch, but for a small batch (as shown in the picture) it will take about 5-7 minutes per batch, for the chicken to be fried well.
7. As you are done frying the chicken pieces, place them in a bowl lined with paper towel, to absorb any excess oil.
8. Then once all the chicken pieces are fried, it’s time for the tadka. For which – heat up a little oil in a wide pan, add mustard seeds, and roast them till they start popping. To this add curry leaves & the slit red chillies, and fry them for 1-2 minutes till the curry leaves & red chillies get roasted.
9. Finally add the fried chicken pieces to this tadka & mix well.
10. Saute the chicken for 3-5 minutes on medium heat before you turn off the gas.
Desi style Chicken 65 is ready to serve!
Tips for Making A Good Chicken 65
1. A good chicken 65 is crispy on the outside yet delicious and juicy on the inside. Which is why, it’s ideal to use thigh meat for this recipe, instead of breast meat, which can be overcooked very easily, especially while deep frying, and turn dry and rubbery.
Using chicken thigh meat will ensure that the chicken will stay juicy on the inside.
2. Like I mentioned above, the outer texture is just as important to make a good chicken 65. Which is why I add a mix of corn flour and rice flour to the marinated chicken right before frying it.
Though you can choose to skip the corn flour (especially since the recipe already uses eggs, which works as a good binding agent anyway) and double up on the rice flour for that extra crispy texture.
If you want to make a ‘healthier’ version of this dish, you can choose to not deep fry the chicken pieces, and instead bake them in the oven or fry them in the airfryer – keeping everything else the same.
Though of-course the deep fried version tastes the best, which is why it’s best to stick to that version for parties. But then if you simply want to indulge in a close variation at home, then either baking or air-frying the chicken pieces work as good alternatives.
Baked Chicken 65 Using Oven
Instead of deep frying the chicken cubes, you can choose to bake them in the oven at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, flipping them once at the 10 minute mark.
The photo below shares how they looked when I chose to bake chicken cubes in the oven for making chicken 65.
Chicken 65 in Airfryer
You can also choose to fry the chicken pieces in an airfryer, instead of deep frying them. Just ensure to drizzle a little oil over the marinated chicken & spray the airfryer container with some oil too.
I fried the chicken at 390 degrees (the highest setting in my Philips Airfryer) for 20-25 mins, ensuring to give the chicken cubes a good shake once in between. The photo below shares how the chicken looked when I chose to use my airfryer to fry the chicken for chicken 65.
More Chicken Recipes:
Whole Chicken Tandoori
Easy Pepper Chicken
This recipe has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in 2018.
Chicken 65 Recipe (Dry Version)
- 2 pounds boneless chicken preferably thigh meat
For chicken marination
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
- 1 tablespoon rice flour
For tadka / tempering
- 2 teaspoon oil
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds (rai)
- 1 dry red chilli
- 20 curry leaves (cadipatta)
Chicken Prep & Marination
- Take 2 pounds of boneless chicken (preferably thigh meat - see notes), and cut into small bite sized chunks of approximately the same size.
- In a bowl, beat 2 eggs, and to it, add 3 tablespoon ginger garlic paste, 1½ teaspoon salt, 1½ teaspoon red chilli powder, 1½ teaspoon garam masala powder, 1½ teaspoon coriander powder, and 1 teaspoon cumin powder. Mix everything together to make a marinade.
- Now coat all the chicken pieces with this marinade, and refrigerate the marinated chicken for 4-6 hours.
- Once the chicken is marinated well, take it out of the fridge, and let it thaw for 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature, to ensure the chicken doesn’t go from one extreme temperature in the fridge to the other extreme in hot oil in a matter of minutes.
- Right before frying, add 1 tablespoon cornflour (for binding) and 1 tablespoon rice flour (for crispy coating) to the marinated chicken pieces, and mix well.
Frying The Chicken Pieces
- Heat up the oil to fry the chicken, and then fry the chicken cubes, a few pieces at a time, till they turn golden brown and crispy.
- Here ensure to not overcrowd the pan by adding a lot of chicken pieces at the same time, as that will bring down the temperature of the oil, which in turn will result in chicken retaining some oil on the surface, and not getting as crisp as you want the pieces to get for chicken 65.
- Frying time will vary depending on the size of the pan and the size of the batch, but on medium heat, it took me about 5-7 minutes per batch.
- As soon as you remove the chicken pieces from the oil, put them in a bowl lined with paper towel, to absorb excess oil, if any.
Chicken 65 Tadka
- Finally, in a big pan (that will hold all the chicken pieces), lightly heat up 2 teaspoon oil, and add in ½ teaspoon mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds start popping, add in 1 red chilli (slit in two) & 20 curry leaves, and lightly roast them for 1-2 minutes.
- Then add in the fried chicken pieces to this tadka & mix well.
- Now lightly roast the chicken pieces for 3-5 minutes on medium heat, and then turn off the flame.
- Chicken 65 is ready to serve.
- For this recipe (or for any deep fried chicken dish) it's best to use thigh meat instead of breast meat, as it is easier to over cook breast meat at high temperatures, making it dry and rubbery, while thigh meat is juicier.
- I cut the chicken into really small cubes, but you can cut the chicken into any shape you prefer. Just ensure the chicken pieces are (approximately) of the same size, as it will be easier to fry them evenly and well.
- For a spicier chicken 65, you can increase the amount of red chilli powder, and other spices, and even add in black pepper powder in the marinade.
- It’s best to marinate the chicken for 4-6 hours, but if you are pressed for time, a 2 hour marination will suffice. But irrespective of how long you marinate it, if you have refrigerated the chicken, ensure to first thaw it at room temperature for at-least 30 minutes before you start frying it.
- You can skip adding corn-flour for binding, and double up on the rice flour instead, for a really crispy chicken 65. Especially if you are using eggs, which work as a good binding agent anyway. I personally prefer the texture that I get with adding a mix of both corn flour and rice flour.
- You can also choose to add in red food coloring or even kashmiri chilli powder instead of regular chilli powder for getting that restaurant like red-colored chicken 65. I personally don’t add in food coloring if I can avoid it.
Quick Notes on Variation (details shared in post above recipe card)
- Air Fryer Chicken 65 - 390 F for 20-25 minutes, flipping once in between
- Oven Baked Chicken 65 - 350 F for 20-25 minutes, flipping once in between
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