Originating in Chennai, southern India, this spicy snack is now a mainstay on menus all over the country. There are countless theories that surround the number 65 in its name – some say that’s how many days the chicken should be reared for, others argue it represents the original number of the dish on the menu, and there’s even a claim it refers to the amount of chillies that should be added. The most widely accepted version is that it originated from Chennai’s Buhari restaurant in 1965. Semantics (and all else) will fade to a distant memory at just one bite of this deep-fried favourite.






Skill level

Average: 4.5 (395 votes)


  • 1½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (see Note)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) white vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cm piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry
  • 75 g (½ cup) cornflour
  • 35 g (¼ cup) plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • coriander leaves, fried curry leaves (see Note), chopped green chillies and limes wedges, to serve


Yoghurt coating

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cm piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 2 small green bird’s-eye chillies, halved
  • 2 curry leaf sprigs (see Note)
  • 140 g (½ cup) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (see Note)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating tim 1 hour 

Combine 1 tablespoon of chilli powder, ground cumin, vinegar, garlic, ginger and chicken in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate.

Fill a large saucepan or deep-fryer one-third with oil and heat over medium heat to 170ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Place cornflour, plain flour and remaining 2 teaspoons of chilli powder in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Place beaten eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg then dust in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Working in batches, place chicken in oil and cook, turning halfway, for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

To make yoghurt coating, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add garlic, ginger, chillies and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until softened. Add chicken to pan and stir to coat. Add yoghurt, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, ½ teaspoon of pepper and sugar, and cook for 6 minutes or until most of the yoghurt is absorbed. Season with salt and serve with coriander leaves, fried curry leaves, chopped green chilli and lime wedges.



• Kashmiri chilli powder is from Indian food shops and specialty spice shops. Substitute regular chilli powder.

• Curry leaves are available from select greengrocers and Asian food shops.


Photography by Brett Stevens. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Styling by Vivien Walsh. 

As seen in Feast magazine, June 2014, Issue 32.