Chicken 65 is a uniquely Indian dish. There are many different theories regarding the unusual name of this recipe; some say the original dish contained exactly 65 different ingredients while others claim it was the number of chilies used in the recipe. Either way, this hot and spicy dish makes a wonderful addition to any Indian meal. Chicken 65 can also be served as an appetizer or even as a snack. It's absolutely perfect for entertaining and can be made well in advance and just heated through gently in a low oven before serving.
The chicken can also be easily substituted with paneer cubes, cauliflower florets or even mushrooms for vegetarians and the recipe tastes equally delicious when made with either fish or shrimp. There are many variations to this dish but this particular recipe is my personal favorite.
1 lb of chicken (boneless and skinless), cut into 1.5 inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp black mustard seeds
3-4 small Thai green chilies, finely minced
5-6 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi)
2 tsp sambhar powder (or try rasam powder or chaat masala)
salt to taste
2 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
2 tbsp cornstarch
oil (vegetable or canola) for pan frying
wedges of lemon (or lime) for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice and the spices (ground cumin, red chili powder, turmeric, sambhar powder and salt). Add the cornstarch and mix well to combine. Add the chicken pieces and mix to coat well. Cover, refrigerate and let marinate for at least 1 hour (the longer the better). Remember to remove the chicken from the refrigerator 15-20 minutes before pan frying to allow it to come to room temperature.
In a large wok or deep skillet on medium high heat, add 3-4 tbsp of oil. When hot, very carefully add the black mustard seeds. When the splattering subsides, add the green chilies and fresh curry leaves. Then carefully add the chicken pieces and fry until cooked through. They should be golden brown and crispy on all sides. Drain well. You may need to do this in small batches.
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with a pinch of salt when still hot, garnish with wedges of lemon and/or lime and serve with your favorite chutneys and sauces.
You can also use the chicken pieces in naans or rotis to make delicious Indian wraps. Just add some lettuce, tomatoes and red onions and then top with your favorite chutneys and sauces.