I’ve seen Chicken 65 listed on the menu in a number of Indian restaurants. It’s always a spicy dish. Sometimes Chicken 65 is made with whole chicken legs and thighs, sometimes it’s made with boneless chicken. The dish is always an unnatural red color, presumably due to some food dye used in the cooking process. But why the name Chicken 65?
Each time I visit a restaurant with Chicken 65 on the menu, I ask them why they call the dish Chicken 65, which sounds far more mundane than a vindaloo, gobi, masala, or one even curry. The answer varies, but the common theme seems to be something along the lines of, ‘it’s just a name, we could call it anything.’ So why not Chicken 64 or Chicken 66? Surely there’s a good story in here somewhere.
Looking online for an answer to the question, ‘what is chicken 65?’, the stories vary widely. Some versions of the story claim it was a chicken dish created in 1965. Another story claims the spices soak for 65 days. My favorite version of the story is one that I read on The Hindu, a site that no longer exists, which suggests that the Chicken 65 recipe first used 65 chilies for every kilogram of chicken – based on the popularity of spicy food as a way to prove one’s manhood.
If you know a story of Chicken 65 or have some insight into the history of this Indian dish, drop me a line, I’d love to know the real story.