The Ultimate Guide to Chicken 65: Making Deliciously Spicy & Crispy Indian Chicken at Home

Coated in Indian spices and deep fried until golden brown, Chicken 65 is a dish that fried chicken lovers will adore. And if you haven’t heard of it before you’re in for a treat.

To discover the best approach to making it at home, I reviewed and compared almost 50 recipes for the dish and it’s most popular variants. You can find all the recipes I reviewed on my Chicken 65 board on Pinterest.

What is Chicken 65?

Chicken 65 is India’s version of Southern fried chicken, Korean fried chicken or Japan’s karaage chicken.

Pieces of chicken (usually boneless) are marinated in a mixture of Indian flavours and spices, then deep fried until crispy and golden. And some versions then toss it in a spicy sauce as well.

It’s popular in India as a snack or an appetiser. In spite of it’s popularity at home, it’s not as well known as karaage chicken or Korean fried chicken outside of India. And that needs to change, because it is fantastic!

Why is it called Chicken 65?

Most sources agree that Chicken 65 was created by the chef at the Hotel Buhari, a famous restaurant in Chennai, India.

That’s about where the agreement ends though. There are a number of different theories about the name of the dish.

  • The dish was introduced in 1965. This is the most common theory behind the name.
  • The dish was number 65 on the menu.
  • The chicken was cut into 65 pieces.
  • The dish required 65 ingredients.
  • The chickens were 65 days old.
  • The sauce used 65 red chili peppers!

Whatever the reason behind the name, it stuck and is still used today, both in India and in many Indian restaurants around the world.

Types of Chicken 65

The recipes I reviewed serve their chicken in one of three different ways – “dry”, with a tadka, and with gravy (sauce).

A white plate full of bright red dry Chicken 65, garnished with onion slices and cilantro with the text read more about dry chicken 65.

Dry Chicken 65

The use of the term “dry” is not a reference to the texture of the dish! Rather it refers to how it’s finished in comparison to other styles.

This version is cooked without any sauce or other additions. It’s a lot like the way you get KFC chicken pieces. The chicken is served straight from the deep fryer.

Follow the link to learn more about the dry style of Chicken 65.

A white bowl full of Chicken 65 pieces cooked in a tadka of oil, spices and chili peppers with the text read more about Chicken 65 with a tadka.

Chicken 65 tossed with a tadka

If you haven’t come across the term before, tadka is fat (oil or clarified butter) infused with spices and aromatics.

You make a tadka by sauteing the spices and other ingredients in ghee (clarified butter) or oil. With Chicken 65, the most common flavours are fresh green chilies, curry leaves and garlic.

And once the tadka is done, the cooked crispy chicken is tossed in the hot flavoured oil. Delicious!

A white plate loaded with sticky Chicken 65 in gravy with the text read more about chicken 65 with gravy.

Chicken 65 in gravy

This does mean a traditional gravy of meat drippings thickened with flour. An Indian gravy is the delicious sauce that makes up the dish (like the rich red sauce enveloping butter chicken).

For a Chicken 65 in gravy, the chicken is marinated and fried before being cooked in a spicy and often creamy sauce.

This is the most popular style from the recipes I reviewed. And for this dish, the gravy is usually cooked down until it’s a thick, sticky coating on the chicken (rather than a typical sauce).

How to cook Chicken 65

The traditional method of cooking it is to deep fry the marinated pieces in hot oil. Like other styles of fried chicken, this is a great way to create a crispy crust while keeping the meat moist and tender.

That’s not to say you can’t make a healthier version. I reviewed a number of recipes for oven baked and air fried Chicken 65 as well.

Whichever way you decide to cook it, the marinade is very similar. I go into a lot more detail on my post on dry Chicken 65.

Chicken 65 variations & alternatives

Closeup of pieces of crispy fried Chicken 65 on rice with the text read more about Chicken 65 biryani.

Main meal

While it’s a wonderful snack or appetizer, it can also be made into a spectacular meal. I found several recipes for a truly heavenly union – Chicken 65 biryani.

If you haven’t had a biryani before, you’re missing out! A biryani is a popular main meal of rice layered with meat, herbs and Indian spices. It’s all cooked in the one vessel so that the rice cooks in the flavours and aromas of the other ingredients.

Now imagine this with Chicken 65 as the meat!

Vegetarian alternatives

If you’re keen to try the delicious spice mix and crispy finish, but don’t like chicken, or you’re vegetarian, there are still some great options available to you.

Closeup of fried Gobi 65 pieces with the text read more about Cauliflower 65.
Cauliflower 65. Known as Gobi 65, the variation replaces chicken with cauliflower florets.
Closeup of fried spicy potatoes with the text read more about Aloo 65.
Aloo 65. This is a potato version.
Closeup of pieces of cottage cheese 65 garnished with fried curry leaves with the text read more about Paneer 65.
Paneer 65. Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) is used instead of chicken.

Plus, with careful selection, some of these recipes are vegan as well.

My favourite Chicken 65 recipes

In writing this guide I reviewed nearly 50 recipes. And while I obviously haven’t cooked them all, there were some that stood out from the others.

Check out my favourite Chicken 65 recipes.

Frequently asked questions

What is Chicken 65?

Chicken 65 is an Indian fried chicken dish. Spiced with Indian flavours and chili peppers, it’s popular as a snack and an appetiser.

Who created Chicken 65?

It was created by A.M. Buhari, the chef at the Buhari Hotel restaurant in Chennai, India.

Why is it called Chicken 65?

No one is sure, but the most popular belief is that it was introduced to the menu by it’s creator in 1965.

How is Chicken 65 cooked?

It is typically deep-fried, although you can also oven-bake or air fry Chicken 65.

How is Chicken 65 served?

It can be served dry, with a spicy flavoured oil or with a thick gravy.

Are there vegetarian versions of Chicken 65?

There are several popular vegetarian options, including cauliflower, potato and paneer (Indian cottage cheese).

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