What’s In A Name

Country of OriginIndia
Tamil Nadu

Who doesn’t like an ambiguous origin story, am I right?

The Chicken 65 has got an origin story so ambiguous that it even rivals that of one of DC Comics’ most famous, fabled, fiendish villains – the Joker!

Although there is little dispute over who we have to thank for this culinary masterpiece (a certain Mr. A.M. Buhari of Hotel Buhari), the story behind the ’65’ in Chicken 65 is one that has spawned a different beginning in every home.

To some, the number owes its roots to the wars being fought in 1965, as the dish was a staple to then soldiers. To others, it was a reminder of how many chilli peppers were used to make the dish. And to the other others, the number stemmed from either a mandate to make the dish using 65-day old chickens (so much for expiry dates) or to have exactly 65 pieces of chicken per portion (who’d say no to that?!)

Our Connection

எங்கே (Where)Simran’s Aappa Kadai – Dubai, UAE
எப்பொழுது (When)
Early 2000s

Nostalgia’s become all the rage over the past few years, hasn’t it? We’ve gone from eagerly anticipating what the future holds for us to obsessively romanticising about days past. My connection to the Chicken 65 is one such story.

Being South Indian, it goes without saying that I have had the fortune of feasting on some really really good Chicken 65s on multiple occasions. However, none were as memorable as the one I have chosen. Why?

Well, there are a few reasons why. The first and most obvious one is that the restaurant no longer exists (in Dubai). The memories of my regular visits to Simran’s Aaapa Kadai as a child have become just that – memories. Talk about nostalgia taking over!

The second and most important reason is that this particular Chicken 65 would be the only dish I used to ever order when I dined at the restaurant. No matter what the others ordered – mains, dessert, drinks – one thing always made its way onto the server’s notepad. The Chicken 65! And it was worth it! Every. Single. Time. Never once do I recall being served a plate of Chicken 65 that was either too greasy, overly breaded, or without a crispy skin. They were perfect. Every. Goddamn. Time.


Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 30 mins Rest Time 70 mins Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Servings: 4
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


"One portion of Chicken 1965, please. How many pieces per portion? 65? Wow! That's generous! And could you make it like super spicy? Like a lot of chilli...maybe 65 of them? Oh, and just out of curiosity, you are going to use the 65-day old chickens, right?"



  1. Dice the chicken thighs1 into medium-sized pieces

  2. Add them to a large bowl. Marinate the diced chicken thighs with yogurt, turmeric powder, garam masala, lemon juice, corn flour, and half of the prescribed ginger-garlic paste and Kashmiri red chilli powder

  3. Roughly chop 4-5 sprigs of curry leaves. Add them to the marinade. Give the chicken a good mix to ensure all of the pieces are well-coated with the spices, yogurt, and corn flour2

  4. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour3

  5. Pour the vegetable oil into a deep-bottomed pan. Place it over a high heat and wait for the oil to warm up

  6. Once the oil is hot4, with the help of a tong, carefully drop a few marinated chicken pieces into the oil5 

  7. Once the chicken attains a nice golden crisp on the outside and is cooked through, remove them from the pan and place them in a bowl6 to rest. Toss the remaining curry leaves into the oil until they are nice and crispy. Remove from the pan and place in the same bowl as the chicken. Turn off the stove

  8. While the chicken is resting, add the rest of the ginger-garlic paste and Kashmiri red chilli powder to a small cup. Stir until the paste turns red with the chilli powder

  9. Pour two tablespoons of water into the cup and stir until all of the paste dissolves and you're left with a bright red chilli ginger-garlic liquid

  10. Drain most of the oil from the deep-bottomed pan, leaving only a tablespoon of oil still inside. Pour the chilli-infused ginger-garlic liquid into the pan and bring it over a medium-heat

  11. Once the liquid starts to heat up, toss the fried chicken and curry leaves into the pan. Stir until all of the pieces are well coated in the chilli ginger-garlic sauce. Turn the stove off once done

  12. To Serve (per serving): The whole dish can be served in a bowl and can be eaten either with mini Malabar Parottas or on its own as a snack


1. I used boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. You can also use bone-in chicken thighs, which has more flavour. Alternatively, you can use chicken breasts if you prefer something with less fat content. 

2. The marinade should not be too runny and not too dry either. The marinade should stick to the chicken and be almost like a thick paste.

3. Ideally, the chicken should marinate for at least 24 hours (overnight). This would help get the best flavour from the meat. However, if you do not have time or space to make it a day earlier, then leave it to rest for at least 1 hour.

4. To ensure that the oil is at the right temperature to fry the chicken, place the handle end of a wooden spoon/ladle/chopstick into the oil. If bubbles start to emerge around the wood, then it is hot enough to fry. Alternatively, you can also toss a bit of the marinade into the oil and see if it starts to fry and turn into a golden crisp.

5. Fry the chicken in batches. Overcrowding - dropping all the pieces into the oil at the same time - will cool the oil and will increase the grease content in the chicken while not creating a golden crisp on the outside.

6. Place a tissue paper in the bowl before removing the fried chicken from the pan. The tissue paper will help absorb any excess oil that may still linger in the chicken after being removed post-frying.

7. The prices of the ingredients (table below) are only rough estimates and are subject to change!

8. As certain ingredients are common household items - salt, pepper, oil - you may not be required to purchase them, and so the cost of preparing this dish is lower.

Keywords: Appetizers, Chicken, Lunch & Dinner, Non-Vegetarian

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