Looking for a curry that is both crispy and a little saucy at the same time? My friends, you have hit the jackpot! I will show you exactly how you can make an authentic chicken 65 gravy recipe at home. I'll also tell you how the dish tastes and even offer some variations should you wish to change it up. Get the big spoon out, lads. This is one you'll want to finish!
What is Chicken 65?
Chicken 65 is a spicy curry dish that you'll find in many UK Indian takeaways and on the Indian subcontinent. Unlike some curries, this dish is a direct, fairly unaltered, export straight from India. The dish traditionally combines deep-fried chicken with an iconic chicken 65 gravy recipe.
Chicken 65 has an interesting history and is a curry invented by one of India's true artists regarding Indian cuisine, A.M Buhari.
The roots and main spices running through the dish are fairly consistent, with minor variations based on the chef's preference.
At the heart of every chicken 65 dish is the delicious chicken 65 gravy. Nail this, and you can make a whole manner of curry dishes that all fall under the 'chicken 65' umbrella.
This can include dishes such as:-
- Chicken 65 (obviously)
- Gobi 65 (made with cauliflower)
- Aloo 65 (made with potato instead of chicken)
- Paneer 65 (made with Indian cheese)
- Lamb 65 (Super tasty with precooked lamb)
- And many more…
The good news is that as soon as you have learned the chicken 65 gravy recipe, it is possible to easily make all of the above in the same simple steps.
The 'gravy' in the chicken 65 recipe isn't actually that saucy. It certainly isn't like the more traditional curries such as, say, madras or korma.
Instead, the gravy forms a semi-thick coating, a little similar to the sauces in Chinese takeaways. It is possible to make it saucier, but you'll find most authentic chicken 65 recipes are more on the dry side.
What Do I Need to Make the Chicken 65 Gravy Recipe?
Unlike the more traditional BIR curry recipes, the chicken 65 gravy recipe is made from scratch every single time. This dish doesn't rely on base gravy to add a saucy element. The texture and taste come from the inclusion of heaps of fresh ingredients.
The ingredients are combined in a hot pan to form a 'fry' (a fancy Indian name for a hot marinade) before coating the precooked chicken pieces.
The chicken 65 gravy recipe includes heaps of fresh ingredients and spices, including: -
- Curry leaves
- Garlic and ginger paste
- Chopped onions
- Lemon juice
- Diluted red chilli paste
- Chilli sauce
- Chilli powder (optional)
- A little sugar
- Fresh mustard and cumin seeds
- Powdered curry spices including turmeric, coriander and cumin.
None of the above is hard to come by, and provided you've got a well-organized spice cupboard, you'll probably find that you have most, if not all of the above.
What Does Chicken 65 Taste Like?
Chicken 65 is a mix of tastes. It is spicy. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the hottest, it sits firmly around a 7. The heat comes from the inclusion of fresh red chilli paste and additional chilli sauce. The dish is crunchy, hot, savoury, and a little sweet and sour.
By examining the ingredients in my list above, you can get a real flavour (pun intended) of how the curry tastes. Here's a quick breakdown: -
Curry Leaves – Fresh curry leaves add a slightly bitter pungency to most dishes. They have a distinctive fragrance and taste. There is also a slight citrusy under element. The chicken 65 gravy recipe contains around 20 – 30 fresh curry leaves, which is one of the predominant tastes.
Fresh Mustard and Cumin Seeds – Many Indian dishes that contain a 'fry' or temper' will feature fresh seeds. My chicken 65 gravy recipe is no exception. When toasted, they take on a slightly crunchy texture. Undercutting this is a sort of savoury 'toasted' taste that is really strong in Indian flavours.
Coriander and Cumin – At the heart of nearly every curry dish lies either coriander, cumin, or both! Cumin adds a subtle and smoky sweetness to the dish and a slight spicy afterbite. Coriander powder is a little citrusy and what most people would associate with a 'curry' taste. (don't worry, unlike the leaves, it doesn't taste like soap)
Lemon Juice – So far, we have only talked about dry ingredients. While the chicken 65 gravy recipe is a little dry, it still needs a few liquid elements to get the right consistency.
…Enter lemon juice
Lemon juice acts as the best dilutant, but it also adds loads of flavour to this dish. If you like sweet and sour, this is the curry for you.
Chilli – Remember how I said that chicken 65 was spicy? There's a reason for this. Chicken 65 contains several different forms of chilli.
First, you have diluted chilli paste. This adds all the chilli flavour without worrying about encountering a fiery 'big bit.
Next, you have a little red powdered chilli. This adds a slightly bright red tinge to the dish and a little extra heat.
Finally, we like to include store-bought chilli sauce straight out of the bottle. This is a little like ketchup, but with more oomph.
How to Make the Chicken 65 Gravy Recipe
One of the beautiful things about the chicken 65 gravy recipe is how easy it is to make. Theirs is very little preparation required.
If you can make a stir fry, you can make chicken 65.
I'm going to go right on ahead and assume that if you are searching for a chicken 65 gravy recipe, you want to make chicken 65. However, rest assured, regardless of if you use chicken or other ingredients like paneer, gobi, or aloo. Aside from adding the meat, the steps are identical.
The recipe starts with creating a sort of loose batter to make the chicken crispy.
I like to keep it simple.
Cornstarch, sparkling water, a few cumin seeds and a pinch of salt.
That's about it.
I chop the chicken into bite-sized chunks, give them a dust with corn flour, and then dunk them in the batter before deep-frying them in batches.
While the chicken is frying and turning all crisp and golden, I get to work on prepping the ingredients for the chicken 65 gravy.
I make a mix of mustard seeds, curry leaves, and cumin seeds in a small bowl. This forms the backbone of the flavour in the chicken 65 recipe. I normally use a splash of oil from the pan the chicken is frying in to create my 'fry' in a separate frying pan (normally something like this).
To start, it is simple. I fry the above mix in the hot oil.
Once the seeds and leaves start to crisp up and become toasted, I add the chilli paste, chilli powder, cumin and coriander powder (along with another pinch of salt). Now is also a good time to go in with the onions, garlic and ginger.
Once the mix is slightly soft and smells fragrant, I add the cooked chicken back to the pan and give a liberal squeeze of lemon juice. The last stage is to add your shop-bought chilli sauce. If you wonder which chilli sauce the chefs use, it's nearly always something like this.
I add this last as it tends to burn and congeal if left on the heat for too long, and we use it merely to add a little more liquid without diluting all of the delicious spices.
Now that I've talked you through how chicken 65 tastes, you will want to know the recipe to make chicken 65 gravy.
Here's how to do it…
Chicken 65 Hints and Tips
Here at curryspy, we don't want good.
We want perfect.
Here are some great tips and tricks to make sure your chicken 65 gravy recipe is as good as can be.
An Easy Way to See if Your Oil is Hot Enough
If you fry your chicken in oil that is not hot enough, you will end up with soggy chunks.
And let me tell you…
Nobody wants soggy chunks.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to ensure that your oil is hot enough.
No fancy thermometers or looking for a 'small piece of bread'… That stuff is for amateurs.
All you'll need is… A wooden spoon.
To find out if your oil is hot enough, simply dip the spoon into the oil. If bubbles fizz and form, it is the perfect temperature for frying.
Skip the Chilli if You Don't Like Heat
Look, I appreciate that this dish has a fair amount of chilli.
It is easy to tone down if you don't like chilli heat. I'd keep the chilli sauce at the end (as this isn't too spicy anyway), but feel free to skip the chilli paste and powder if you can't handle the heat.
If the chilli sauce is still too much, you could use ketchup!
Using Water in Your Chicken 65 Gravy Recipe Is OK
Want a chicken 65 recipe that isn't quite as dry?
It's an easy fix.
Feel free to add a splash of water if you want a slightly looser gravy.
Fry Your Chicken in Batches
This is an important one.
Overcrowd the pan while you are frying the chicken, and you'll get a substandard result.
Cook in batches!
While you wait for the second batch to cook to golden brown perfection, keep the first batch warm on a rack in a heated oven.
Don't Like Frying? No Problem
Chicken 65 is supposed to be crispy. But some days, it is a chore to mess with dipping and deep frying chicken.
It's fine. I get it.
This recipe works beautifully with precooked chicken. You can find out how to make it and why it is useful here.
Don't Overcook in the Final Stage
This is another important tip.
The chilli sauce added at the end doesn't need cooking. It just needs heating. Overdo it, and you'll end up with a congealed mess. As soon as the sauce starts to thicken, the dish is ready.
Speaking of which…
Chicken 65 is meant to be a nice mix of crispy and saucy. The key to achieving this amazing combo is to serve the dish immediately.
This isn't one of those recipes that are good the next day.
The sauce will seep into the batter and make it all soggy.
Do yourself a favour and eat it as soon as you have made it.
Chicken 65 Gravy Recipe | FAQ
Chicken 65 is actually quite an interesting dish, surrounded by all sorts of folklore and misconceptions. Here are the most common questions along with some answers…
Why is it Called Chicken 65?
The truth is nobody truly knows why it is called chicken 65. However, there are quite a few plausible theories. Some are much more believable than others. Some suggest the name relates to the year it was invented; others say it is to do with the ingredients… And even weirder.
Here's a list of the most popular theories as to where chicken 65 got its name: -
The Indo – Pakistan War of 1965
Feeding an army isn't easy.
In 1965 Pakistan and India fought several skirmishes along their borders.
One rumour about the origins of chicken 65 stems from this conflict, where it was apparently invented as an easy to create a dish for the multitude of Indian soldiers.
65 Chilli Peppers
Like spicy food?
Well, you had better. Because according to this myth, chicken 65 was originally made with 65 different chillis.
Do you believe this one? I certainly don't.
Looking at super-hot curries, even they don't have this much chilli. It would be inedible!
Again, the myth here relates to the ingredients. This particular one is that the dish was made with a combination of 65 herbs and spices.
I know the ingredients list is a little long, but 65?
Again, this one makes for a good story, but it is doubtful it is true.
65 Day Old Chicken
While it is a popular old wives tale, it has since been debunked that curry was first invented to mask the taste of rotten meat.
To suggest that chicken 65 was so named because the chicken was normally 65 days old is a bit of a stretch. You'd need a fair bit of spice to cover up the taste of that chicken.
Number 65 on the Menu
For me, personally, this is the most believable.
Rumour has it that the dish's birthplace, the Buhari Hotel in Chennai, used to number the dishes on its menu. One of the most popular sat at number 65… This dish would subsequently become chicken 65. Other restaurants soon followed suit and included a similar dish at number 65 on the menu.
"65" being where you placed the 'most popular' curry. By ordering number 65, there was a measure of consistency in what you could expect to be delivered to your table.
Interestingly, the Buhari hotel website still features images of A.M Buhari, inventor of the chicken 65.
And rightly so! When it comes to cooking curry, he was a real pioneer! Rumour has it he also invented what we now call biryani.
Can You Make Chicken 65 With Other Ingredients?
It is possible to make chicken 65 with other ingredients. You could try battered paneer, gobi, potato, or any other filling of your choosing. Simply swap out the chicken for one of these ingredients. Provided you get the batter and gravy right, it will taste pretty similar.
Is Chicken 65 Healthy?
Generally, chicken 65 isn't the healthiest curry you could choose. The dish is made by deep-frying chicken, and the base of the 'gravy' is a mixture of oil, sugar and pre-processed chilli sauce. All of the above adds a fair few calories. If you are looking for a healthy curry, check out this article.
Speaking of which…
Can You Make Chicken 65 in an Air Fryer?
Air fryers reduce the amount of oil in food, so that's a good thing. You can absolutely make chicken 65 in an air fryer. You'll still need to do a two-stage process. First, fry the chicken and then finish it off in a pan of chicken 65 'temper' or gravy.
Chicken 65 Gravy Recipe | Final Thoughts
In the case of this particular recipe, it's the temper that makes it. My chicken 65 gravy recipe is authentic and (ignoring the long list of ingredients) is actually pretty quick and easy to make. It's spicy, crunchy and utterly delicious. Want to learn the secrets of Indian takeaways? Why not head on over and have a good look around the rest of the site?