Chicken 65 doesn’t have to be complicated. Marinated in spices and fried until crispy, it’s a delicious treat with no further steps.
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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 are marinated in a mixture of Indian flavours and spices, then deep fried until crispy and golden. And some versions then cook it in a spicy sauce as well.
You can learn more about the history of the dish on my ultimate guide to Chicken 65.
Dry Chicken 65
Doesn’t sound great, does it? But by dry Chicken 65 I mean the dish prepared and served without a sauce or other additions. This is the simplest form of the dish – crispy deep-fried chicken pieces.
Fried chicken is not new or unique though. It’s the spices and other flavours that make Chicken 65 so special.
Chicken 65 coating
Every one of the recipes I reviewed coats the chicken pieces in a mixture of spices and other ingredients. There are many variations, but also a number of very consistent ingredients. Some of these are for flavour, and others are used to ensure a crispy coating.
Spices and other flavours
Although there aren’t any ingredients that every single author uses in their masala, there are a number of very popular choices:
- Almost every recipe includes some type of powdered chili pepper. Most authors only specify red, but a number use Kashmiri chili powder, known for the vibrant red colour it lends to a dish.
- All but a few authors use crushed garlic and ginger in their chicken coating. Most use a homemade ginger-garlic paste, a staple in Indian cooking.
- Most include some turmeric, ground coriander and garam masala.
- An acidic ingredient is also popular, with lemon juice or vinegar being a bit more popular than curd or plain yogurt. Several authors insist that an acidic tang or sourness is critical to an authentic Chicken 65.
- Half of the recipes also include black pepper in their spice mix.
A few authors also include cumin in the spice mix, and one uses some fennel seed.
Commercial Chicken 65 masalas
I managed to find a few different commercially packaged masalas for Chicken 65.
Compared to the masalas used in the recipes, the commercial products are very similar, but interestingly most include cinnamon, and often cardamom as well.
If you’re interested, the links below will take you to several different products available on Amazon:
- Aachi Chicken 65 masala mix
- National Foods Chicken 65 batter mix
- Ching’s Secret Chicken 65 masala
- Lucky Chicken 65 masala
The other common ingredients in both homemade and commercial masalas are not added for taste, but for a crispy finish.
A hallmark of Chicken 65 is a crispy coating. And most recipes add more than one ingredient to the marinade to ensure the crispiness of their chicken.
All but one recipe includes one or more type of flour in the coating. Cornstarch (corn flour) is the most popular by far. Some authors use rice flour in addition, or instead of cornstarch.
Only a couple of authors use all-purpose flour. And there’s a good reason for this.
As I highlighted in my review of Korean green onion pancakes, the gluten in regular flour is good for structure, but it also absorbs oil, giving a greasier finish. Being gluten-free, cornstarch and rice flour give a lighter, crispier coating to the chicken.
The other ingredient that almost every author uses is egg. Most use whole egg, but a few just use the whites.
Egg helps soften the gluten in flour, and the protein in the whites crisps up nicely in the hot oil.
The majority of authors don’t just coat the chicken. They also recommend allowing the pieces to marinate in the coating for additional flavour.
Although a couple only suggest 15 or 30 minutes, most recommend a minimum of an hour. And some even suggest leaving the chicken to marinate overnight if you can.
It’s worth noting that beyond an hour, several authors recommend not adding the egg until you’re about to cook your Chicken 65.
Cooking dry Chicken 65
Once your chicken is marinated, cooking it simply involves deep frying the pieces in hot oil until they’re crispy on the outside and cooked thoroughly inside.
Be sure to drain your chicken well before you serve it too.
None of the authors specify an oil temperature, but several caution you not to let the oil get too hot. Keeping the oil a little cooler will allow the chicken to cook through without burning the outside.
Deep-frying creates a wonderfully crisp finish, but it’s messy and certainly not the best approach from a health point of view. The good news is, if you’re after a healthier option, you can oven-bake or air fry Chicken 65 instead.
Serving dry Chicken 65
Chicken 65 is traditionally eaten as a snack or an appetiser.
It’s commonly served with lemon wedges, sliced onion and cilantro (fresh coriander) as a garnish.
The only other advice that several authors offer is to watch out that you don’t eat too much because it’s so good. I can certainly attest to this risk!
Making your Chicken 65
Based on the most consistent approach the authors of these recipes take, to prepare and cook your dry Chicken 65:
- Prepare a masala of red chili powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger and possibly more.
- Mix your masala with plain yogurt or lemon juice, cornstarch (corn flour) and egg.
- Marinate chopped boneless chicken thigh pieces in the mixture for at least an hour.
- Deep fry the chicken until crispy and cooked through.
Chicken 65 recipes
If you’re keen to try making a batch, you can find all the recipes I reviewed on my Chicken 65 Pinterest board.
I’ve also picked out a couple of my favourites on my Chicken 65 recipes page.
Dry Chicken 65 frequently asked questions
What are the most common ingredients in a Chicken 65 marinade?
Red chili pepper powder, turmeric, fresh ginger and garlic, lemon juice or plain yogurt, cornstarch and egg.
How long should I marinate Chicken 65?
On average, most authors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour.
What type of flour is best for a crispy coating on Chicken 65?
Most authors use a mix, but almost all include some cornstarch (corn flour) because it crisps up better than regular flour.
Does Chicken 65 have to be deep-fried?
No, you can oven-bake or air fry Chicken 65 for a healthier version.