I love chicken wings, fried and crispy to the bone. Often coated with the requisite buffalo sauce, on occasion swaddled in a a sweet/sour melange. Though, sometimes when I want to reach that flavor crescendo that can only satisfy mine and my family's Indian taste buds, I adapt my wings to the fine tune of the legendary Chicken 65.
Chicken 65 is a preparation in which flavored chicken pieces, usually boneless, are batter fried and topped with tempered seasonings. Critics may say that wings aren't used in this recipe; but that's the joy of cooking, adapting recipes to accommodate your preference, your ideas and also what you have stored in your refrigerator or pantry, all without demolishing the overall structure and taste of that particular recipe.
When I first put together a batch of my chicken wing 65, it was an instant hit, wonderfully crisp, crusted and well flavored pieces of chicken.
Now, you may be wondering what the number 65 has to do with chicken. Chicken 65 is steeped in mystery as to how the name was sourced. The different theories surrounding it include the 65 chilis purportedly used in its making, to 65 being the age of the first chef who came up with the dish. Whether you want to assume that it had 65th place on the restaurant menu of Chennai's Hotel Buhari or if 1965 was the year it was first created is a matter of opinion and choice. I am in favor of believing the hotel theory, as JZ ( my hubby) regales childhood tales of visiting Buhari's on Mount Road, after many a late night movie, holding the hand of his mom just to consume the famed menu item, # 65.
The varying ways of making the dish are as numerous as the stories themselves. Almost always chicken pieces are dredged in a spice/ flour mix, and topped with a further sizzle of seasoned ingredients.
The chicken wings here get a supplementary squeeze of lemon and a good swathe of tomato ketchup to balance out flavor.
So here we go, chicken wings done in my own "65" rendition :
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken wings
Marinade for the chicken:
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp roughly chopped garlic
- 1 serrano pepper (green chili), de-seeded
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups peanut or canola oil
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 shallots, diced small
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Remove the tips of the wings and discard. Using a knife, separate the wings at the joint, so you have 2 pieces for each wing.
- In a mini processor, process ginger, garlic, and serrano until a smooth paste forms.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the marinade- from the yogurt to the salt (including the ginger/garlic/serrano mixture) until smooth and blended. Evenly coat wing pieces in this. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat 2 cups of oil in a deep sided pan or fryer. When the oil is hot, tested either by a deep fry thermometer( 350°-365°F) or when bubbles form around the end of a wooden spoon immersed in the oil.
- Add the wings in batches, 6-8 at a time (do not crowd pan), keeping flame medium-high. Fry till all sides are golden brown and meat is cooked through.
- After each batch, make sure oil is at an optimum temperature before adding the next batch.
- Continue process until all the wings are fried.
- Drain wings on paper towels.
- Heat oil in a small skillet, add in mustard seeds.
- When the seeds begin to pop, add shallots, serranos and curry leaves. Fry till browned and crisp.
- Take off heat, mix in lemon juice and ketchup. Combine well.
Pour over the warm chicken wings and serve.
When serving these wings at your next gathering, you can be assured that this preparation will reel in the compliments as well as some good conversation.
Some imaginative and well- known chicken 65 speculations:
The meat comes from 65 day old chickens.
There were 65 different spices used in it's making.
It was first served in a Kerala bar in 1965.
First served in a roadside hotel on the Punjab National Highway 65.
The flour and yogurt dredged chicken came about as a quick meal solution for Indian soldiers during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
65 was the age of the first waiter to have served the now illustrious dish.
Theories abound, if you know more, do include some in your comments, I would love to hear them.
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