Chicken 65

Chicken 65

Chennai’s favourite non-veg snack is devil red, and
devilishly spicy – the perfect accompaniment to
a cold Kingfisher on a steamy South Indian afternoon.

When A. M. Buhari, the proprietor of Chennai’s Buhari Hotel, invented Chicken 65 in 1965, he had no idea what he was starting. The civic minded hotelier decided not to patent the recipe for his phenomenally popular chicken snack and hawkers took it to the streets in droves. Buhari didn’t stop there – Chicken 65 was followed by Chicken 78 in 1978, Chicken 82 in 1982 and Chicken 90 in 1990.

You’ll need
500g boneless chicken, cut
into chunks
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp garlic, crushed
10 curry leaves
5-6 whole green chillies
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tbs coriander, chopped

For the marinade
2 tsp of red Kashmiri chilli
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs lemon juice
Pinch of salt

For the sauce
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 tsp of red Kashmiri chilli
½ tsp of red food colouring
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp coriander powder
Pinch of salt

For the batter
1 egg
2 tbs of cornflour
1 tbs of rice flour
1 tbs water

Cooking Method
1 Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a stain-proof bowl and combine with the chicken until thoroughly coated. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
2 Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, and set aside.
3 For the batter, beat the egg and combine with the other batter ingredients until they form a smooth paste; stir together with the marinated chicken.
4 In a wok, heat a cup of vegetable oil and deep-fry the chicken on a medium flame tillgolden. Set aside on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
5 Discard the frying oil and add 2 tbs of fresh vegetable oil to your pan. Saute the ginger and garlic for a few seconds until aromatic then add the curry leaves and green chillies and the battered chicken pieces.
6 Add the yoghurt mixture and cook on a medium flame until it is almost absorbed and the chicken pieces are almost dry.
7 Garnish your devil-red chicken pieces with chopped coriander and serve.

Tasting notes
You can still find the original Chicken 65 at the restaurant where it was invented, but the street-side offering is just as delicious. And even in its streetwise incarnation, this is one snack that looks great on a plate – candy apple-red chicken pieces tossed together with whole green chillies, curry leaves and chopped coriander. Perfect Chicken 65 should be served straight from the pan, still sizzling but moist and tender inside its chilli and spice jacket. The flavours should hit you in waves – chilli, garlic, ginger, pepper, coriander. It’s lip-smackingly good and will leave a tingle on your lips that is best quenched with an icecold bottle of Kingfisher.

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