Chicken 65- Classic Indian Spicy Fried Chicken with curry leaves. Crisp on the outside yet so Tender and juicy inside. You can Deep fry or Air fry this one!
CUISINE: South Indian Appetizer
TEXTURE: Crunchy outside & Tender inside
APPEARANCE: Orange- Red Fried Chicken
Serve with : Lime wedges, Onion rings
🍗What is Chicken 65
It's a street side chicken appetizer that's very popular in south india. Chicken 65 is usually made with small morsels of chicken- with and without bone, marinated in a spicy red marinade which is finally deep fried.
This is the Indian version of fried chicken. When the craving for this fried chicken hits, nothing else will do!
Why is it called chicken "65"? There are a lot of stories attached to its catchy name. Some say its because the chicken is cut into 65 pieces and then fried.Some sources say that the chicken used is usually 65 days old.
Whatever the story may be! Chicken 65 is definitely a cult favorite. Especially with the side of chilled beer !
Here is what we will do
- Marinade the chicken
- Fry the Chicken
- Serve it with sliced onions, fried curry leaves and a wedge of lime
Also check out our collection of more than 50 Air fryer Appetizers.
Here is what you will need
- Lime Juice
- Coriander Powder
- Cumin Powder
- Chili Powder
- Ginger Garlic Paste
- Curry Leaves
- Corn Flour
- Rice Flour
To make chicken 65, you can use any kind of chicken pieces.
Boneless or with bones - Boneless pieces not only cook faster, they are also easier(and cleaner) to eat.
Thigh or Breast - Chicken Thighs take a couple of minutes longer to cook than chicken breast.You can also use chicken tenders. Both chicken tenders and breast will have a chewer texture than chicken thighs.
I personally prefer chicken thighs because the chicken is a lot more moist after frying. Chicken 65 using thighs also tends to stay tender even after a couple of hours of frying.
Size of the chicken pieces - Keep the size of the chicken pieces same so everything cooks to more or less same finish. Smaller pieces cook faster than bigger pieces.
Cutting Chicken- More often than not, the chicken thigh or breast will need to be cut into 2 inch long, about ½ inch thick long pieces. I prefer using kitchen sheers to cut instead of knife.
Ginger Garlic Paste- I have used store-bought ginger garlic paste for convenience. Store bought ginger-garlic paste also tends to be a little more sour than homemade. For this recipe, it adds to the flavor. You can also pound or blend fresh ginger and garlic together.
Curry Leaves- This in my opinion is where majority of flavor comes from. You can use fresh or dried curry leaves. When adding the curry leaves to the marinade, shred it using a knife or kitchen scissors.
Chili Powder - The orangish- red color of chicken 65 comes from Kashmiri chili powder. Most restaurants also add red or orange food coloring to help with the look.
Mild heat: 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri Chili powder
Moderate heat: 1 tablespoon of Kashmiri chili powder
Very spicy heat: 2 tablespoon of Kashmiri chili powder; also add sliced , fried green chilies along with fried curry leaves
Tip: If you only want the flavor of green chilies, without the heat, do not cut them and use them whole. But make sure to pierce a few holes in the chili with a fork to prevent them from exploding!
Cumin, Coriander and Turmeric are basic Indian pantry spices.
To make the spices and herbs stick to the chicken and get that crunchy bite, we will add 2 different flours.
Together they will make your chicken 65 super crispy.
Oil for Frying
You can use vegetable oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil—any neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point of at least 400ºF. Do not use olive oil.
Traditionally groundnut oil or coconut oil was also used to fry.
You will need at least 2-3 cups of oil. It should be enough to submerge whatever you are frying. The smaller the pan, the less oil you’ll need.
Should you Deep Fry or Air Fry Chicken 65
If you are looking to make the authentic, best possible version of chicken 65, you should deep fry it.
The chicken 65 when fried using this recipe will be
- Crispy outside but tender & juicy inside.
- Deep frying enhances the flavor and texture of all the ingredients.
- When fried at correct temperature, it will not be oily.
- This is the restaurant way of preparing chicken 65.
That said, frying is not the most heathiest method of cooking. If you are looking to control calories, I suggest air frying the chicken 65 and using chicken thighs.
The look and texture will be slightly different. Air frying will give it a more Tandoori feel while deep frying will make it crispy on the outside and juicy inside.
Summary If you can, please make the deep-fried version. It’s worth it. If you plan to make this dish on a regular basis, though, the baked version or air-fried version might make more sense.
How to make this recipe (step-by-step photos)
Note: baking and air-frying instructions can be found below.
List of tools
- Slotted Spoon or Pasta Strainer or a Skimmer Ladle- These ladles/ skimmers, have a long handle and they remove the fried "thing" leaving the oil behind. You can also use tongs but you can only take out 1 chicken piece at a time.
- Stable work/heavy Pan for frying- You need a deep pan, in which the about 2-3 inch of oil can be heated with about an extra 2-3 inch of space. So any pan with high sides should work. You can use a wok or a small Dutch oven or a cast iron pan with deep sides. If you are new to frying, use a flat, very stable, heavy pan with high sides. This will keep the hot oil stable and prevent the oil from tipping over.
Heavy Bottomed Steel Pans, Cast iron, Indian local iron, enameled or anodized pans work best. Thin steel pans and non stick pans are not suitable for deep frying.
Step 1: Cut & Marinade Chicken
Cut the chicken into 2 inch* 1 inch pieces. My hack is to use the kitchen scissors instead of knife. It's faster and a lot more precise.
Try and keep the size relatively similar. That way, everything will cook at the same time.
I recommend marinating the chicken for 1 hour. If you can, keep it in the refrigerator overnight, it will enhance the taste and keep the chicken more tender.
If you are deviating from the recipe, I suggest you mix all the marination ingredients in a small bowl. Give it a taste , adjust it according to your preference.And then add the chicken into it.
Keep in mind that the marination will be a lot more pungent and spicy than the final dish.
Step 2: Prepare to Fry
When you are ready to cook the chicken, add the corn and rice flours to it. Mix it up so all the pieces are evenly coated.
Frying the Chicken
Add 2-3 cups or about 300-400 ml of oil to the pan that you are using to fry.You can use a kadai(indian wok) , small dutch oven or a pan with high sides.
There should be about 2-3 inches of oil in the pan with about 2-3 inches of free space over the pan.
Unlike papads and puris, the chicken will need to be fried for longer and at a medium high temperature. If the temperature is too high, the outside will burn before the chicken inside gets cooked
Heat the oil on medium flame to about 320-360 F.
Temperature of oil
The temperature of the oil varies as per the item you are frying. For this recipe, you need it to be between 320 - 360 F.
As you add more things in the hot oil, the temperature will change.
How to test if your oil is hot enough, without a thermometer: Add one tiny piece of chicken to the oil: If it bubbles, puffs up slightly, the oil is ready.
Depending on the size of your pan, it should take 10-15 minutes for the oil to reach the initial 340-350ºF temperature and 6-7 minutes to fry.
Prevent sticking. When using a wok, heat it until it just starts to smoke. Then add the oil. This method ensures the ingredients don’t stick to the wok. Plus it makes sure all the water has evaporated and the oil doesn't splutter while heating up.
Fry in 2-3 batches-Simply drop the chicken with the help of the tongs in the hot oil.
Do not more it for 10-15 seconds. This will make sure the coating stays on the chicken and it doesn't stick to the bottom.The chicken will stick to the pan bottom for the first few seconds, leaving it alone for a few seconds will cook the chicken coating and unstick the chicken.
If you notice the chicken browning very quickly, lower the heat a bit.
Fry Curry Leaves
Line a plate with some kitchen towel.Remove the chicken from the oil using a strainer/ frying skimmer and place it on the lined plate.
The color will darken as the chicken cools down.
Once all your chicken has been fried, switch the heat off. Add some curry leaves to the oil.
Using a skimmer, take them out and add them to the fried chicken. If you like your food spicy, you can also fry a few sliced or pierced green chilies along with the curry leaves.
How to make Air Fryer Chicken 65
Both of these versions both work nicely, but the deep-fried version is hands down better.
The recipe stays the same till the marination step. The only addition is 1 tablespoon of oil to the chicken along with the flours.
Just preheat the air fryer to 200C for 5-10 minutes. Brush the air fryer basket with oil so that the chicken doesn't stick to the bottom.
Air fryer time will depend on the cut ,how big the chicken pieces are and how crowded the air fryer basket is.
Chicken Breast - Air fry for 4-5 minutes
Chicken Thighs - Air fry for 6-7 minutes
Bone - in Chicken - Air fry for 10-11 minutes.
For 1 pound of chicken, you can air fry in 2-3 batches.
Deep frying can be a little intimidating when you are doing it the first time. In India, we usually have a designated woks for deep frying. Usually smaller 4 quarts woks which are heavy and stable.
- Make sure the wok and the frying ladle do not have any water or even water droplets attached to them while frying. This will make the oil splutter and it's extremely hazardous.
- Make sure to use a heavy stable pan which will not move easily.
- Do not fill the oil till the brim of the pan. You will need about 2-3 inches of oil plus another 2-3 inches of free space on top.
Chicken 65 is best served immediately. Though it does stay crispy for about 1-2 hours after frying too.
As an Appetizer - Serve it with a wedge of lime, some onions and fried curry leaves.
As a side - Serve it alongside my delicious Curd Rice Recipe
More Indian Chicken Recipes
South Indian Style Pepper Chicken Curry (Gravy)
Nadan Kozhi Curry- Kerala Chicken Curry
Malabar Chicken Peralan | Kerala Chicken Roast
Chicken Vindaloo- Spicy Goan Chicken Curry
Whole Chicken Roast Indian Style - Baked
If you make this delicious Indian fried chicken 65 recipe, do leave me a rating or a comment or BOTH! I would love to hear your thoughts!
- 1 Pound Chicken Thighs* 500 gms ; Cut into 2 inch long and 1 inch thick pieces
- 1 Tablespoon Kashmiri Chili Check Notes for different levels of heat
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin Powder
- 2 Tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2 Tablespoon Yogurt
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 30 Curry Leaves Divided
- 2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice divided
- 3-4 Cups Oil for frying
- Take about 10 curry leaves and shred them up. (Set the rest 20 curry leaves aside for later)
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch thick and 2-inch long pieces.
- Add - Lemon juice, yogurt, salt, turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger garlic paste and chili powder to the chicken. Mix well.
- Marinate it for 10-15 minutes till you get the oil up to the heat. For best results, marinate overnight.
- When you are ready to fry or air fry, add the flours- corn flour and rice flour. Mix well to evenly coat the chicken.
- Heat the oil on medium heat. About 325-360 F.
- Test the oil with a small piece of chicken. If it starts to bubble vigorously, the oil is ready.
- Using tongs or your hands, Add the marinated chicken pieces to the hot oil.(do not drop them in from a height)
- Do not move the chicken for 10-12 seconds. Using a skimmer or a long ladle with holes, move the chicken around.
- Fry for 5-6 minutes till the chicken is brown. Remove and let it drain on a kitchen towel.
- After you are done frying all the chicken, switch off the heat.
- Add curry leaves to the oil. Fry for 30 seconds till they turn light green,
- Add them on top of the fried chicken. Squeeze rest of the lime juice on top. Serve hot!
Air fryer Method
- Preheat the air fryer at 200 C for 5-10 minutes.
- Spray the air fryer basket with oil.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the marinated chicken(with the flours)
- Add the chicken to the basket in a single layer.
- Air fry for 6-8 minutes(depending on the size of the chicken pieces)
- Air fry in 2-3 batches.
- Air fry the curry leaves for 1 minute.
- Add them on top of the air fried chicken. Squeeze the rest of the lime juice on top. Serve hot!