It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Chicken 65 might have an unusual name, but it’s actually the name of one of the most popular bar snacks in Southern India. Unlike other well-known Indian chicken dishes—like tandoori style and chicken lollipops—this crunchy, fiery, and completely addictive chicken is traditionally made from spicy, marinated chicken pieces that are deep fried, then quickly sautéed again in a spicy yogurt and curry leaf sauce. Since I find that sautéing the fried chicken in yogurt sauce can be more effort than it's worth, I've made an easier version: I serve a yogurt sauce seasoned with chili, cumin, and garlic on the side—all the flavor with none of the struggle. If you feel up for the challenge (and learning more about my theory on this bizarre name), you can always try making a traditional version of Chicken 65.
I feel like I have to issue this recipe with a warning: No matter which way you make it, you will almost always end up eating more than you bargained for. Once you've had a few (or a dozen), there will be no doubt in your mind as to why they are one of Indian's most popular bar foods. So what are you waiting for? Get frying:
For the chicken and the marinade:
1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder or Hungarian hot paprika*
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more as desired
2 cloves garlic, crushed
One 1-inch piece ginger, grated
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the seasoned coating and yogurt sauce:
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons rice flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder or Hungarian hot paprika, divided*
1/4 teaspoon salt and fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
1 egg, beaten
Neutral oil, for deep-frying
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
*To make the marinade, you will need Kashmiri chili powder, which is the milder version of the chili powder regularly available in Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find Kashmiri chili powder, substitute Hungarian hot paprika, which will allow you to achieve the bright red hue.
In a small bowl (choose one that won't stain), mix together the chili powder, ground coriander, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice as desired.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and it to the bowl of marinade, then rub the marinade into the chicken.
Let the chicken marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator or, if you planned ahead, overnight.
While the chicken is marinating, make a seasoned coating by stirring together the cornstarch, flours, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place the beaten egg in a separate shallow bowl.
When you are ready to start frying, pull the chicken from the refrigerator. Line your bowls up and get out a pair of tongs to make coating your chicken a little less messy (fingers will also do the trick, however).
Before breading your chicken, heat your frying oil to 375° F in a deep pot. (If you don't have a frying thermometer, I highly recommend getting one.) Then dip each chicken piece first in the beaten egg and next in the seasoned flour coating. Carefully lower the pieces into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your pot, you should be able to fry about 4 to 5 pieces of chicken at a time.
Deep-fry the chicken pieces for about 3 to 5 minutes each, or until golden brown and cooked through. Carefully remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon and set them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Keep frying until all your chicken pieces are all golden brown and crispy.
While the chicken drains and cools, quickly whip together the yogurt sauce. All you need to do is whisk together the yogurt, cumin, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, garlic, and salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. Give the sauce a taste and adjust seasoning if needed (if you're a diehard cumin fan, go ahead and add some more).
Serve the chicken pieces warm, with the yogurt sauce on the side for dipping. This recipe is usually served as an appetizer, but it also makes for a great entrée.
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