This’s a dish everyone claims to have invented. I’ve heard so many stories about the Chicken 65 history that I decided to put them all together in one post. The one that I heard about from multiple sources was that this was Dish Number 65 on the menu at Velu Military Hotel in Chennai. When I went to Chennai to check this out. The original Velu Military Hotel in Numgambakkan had changed hands and’s now called something else. They still have a branch in Tynampet, but that didn’t have Chicken 65 on the menu. This could’ve been some other Military Hotel, but I haven’t really seen the 65 on the menu in any of the Military Hotels I’ve been to.
For me, the most credible story around the Chicken 65 history is the one by Buhari Hotel in Chennai, who claims that the dish was invented by them and put on the menu in 1965. Hence the name. It still is on their menu along with Chicken 90 which they introduced in 1990. The other dishes I love at Buhari are Chicken 82, Chicken Jamali, Idiyappam Biryani and the Mutton Samsa (Irani Samosa). Chicken 82 is a gravy dish, which you guessed right was introduced in 1982. Chicken Jamali is somewhat like a South Indian’s revenge on Butter Chicken. Thick tomato butter gravy with lots of coconut. Slightly on the sweeter side, but very delicious.
The Chicken 65 at Buhari is unlike the 65’s you get elsewhere. The chicken comes on-the-bone and has a simple marination of ginger, garlic, red chilly, turmeric and a couple of more spices. I loved the simplicity of the Chicken 65 at Buhari and the fact that it doesn’t try and copy the usual style of this dish that one sees everywhere. Most other chicken 65 recipes that I’ve seen are made from boneless chicken.
The Chicken 90 at Buhari is boneless and looks somewhat similar to the other versions of the Chicken 65 that you get elsewhere. Minus the Yoghurt and Curry leaf tempering. It has a simple spice marination and deep fried. At the end, tossed in butter.
1. This dish was created by the Chettiar community and was marinates and sundried so that it could last for 65 days.
I’ve not been able to find any proper reference linking 65 to the Chettiars. They’re known more for Chicken Chettinadu.
2. The dish was created in a restaurant in Hyderabad.
The Telugu style of 65 is the most popular and the one that you get everywhere. Marinated with yoghurt, green chilly, ginger, garlic and basic spices. Coated and fried. Then tempered with ginger and curry leaf. This is what one normally gets as Chicken 65 in most places, but this style got popular sometime in the ’90s.
3. It’s inspired by Kori Aajadina from Mangalore.
I think the Mangalorean Chicken Sukkha is quite different from any version of the Chicken 65 I’ve seen.
4. Akbar Hotel in Charminar, Hyderabad.
I once spoke to the owner of Akbar Hotel near Charminar. 65’s a popular dish there and he told me that his family invented this dish in the ’90s. Akbar Hotel’s style of making 65 is different from the Telugu style and though it’s popular, it doesn’t have the same following as the Telugu style.
1. Chicken made from 65 day old birds – I’ve always wondered about this. Why 65 days and not 60?
2. Chicken cut into 65 pieces for this dish – That’s a tough one to believe. A normal curry cut for smaller pieces (chicken cut on the bone for making Indian curries) is 20-22 pieces. I wonder what would be left, if cut into 65 pieces.
3. The dish was created in a restaurant in Bangalore – The dish came to Bangalore with the spread of Telugu style restaurants. In the ’90s. It was definitely not created in Bangalore.
If you have an alternate theory on the Chicken 65 history or how the dish was invented, please send email me details. Will be happy to add all credible theories to the above list.
Happy hunting and chowder-on.