Imagine sitting in a restaurant, wondering what to eat as your eyes make their way through the menu. Suddenly, a crazy aroma hits your nose and takes a hold of your senses entirely, driving you crazy.
A smell that makes your tongue shiver with greed for a blast of chilli, craving for the absolute perfection with a crispy core like no other and, then your eyes fall on the words ‘chicken 65’ on the menu- it feels like a match made in heaven.
Your face instantly lights up as your lips curve up into a smile and, your mind echoes in agreement.
That is the level of love that India holds for the classic dish- Chicken 65.
It is a magical dish that can set your mouth ablaze, make your heart race as well as skip a beat and take your taste buds on a magical joyride.
Believe it or not, it’s deep-fried (of course) cover, with this crazy saltiness and crunchiness to it pushes up the punch of flavours brought in by curry leaves, ginger, garlic, chillies and all the ingredients that make a happy and classic Indian dish!
Along with having a crazy taste, Chicken 65 also carries with itself, a crazy past. There are various stories and conspiracy theories behind the creation of this classic and some of them are just unimaginably bizarre.
The one fact that everyone seems to agree on is that this dish was created in South India and that is the obvious explanation behind its exquisite taste. The first and most famous theory suggests that Chicken 65 was created in Tamil Nadu by a respectable and talented man- Mr. A.M. Buhari in the year 1965 (which was the reason behind the name).
It was presented at the Buhari Hotel; a high-end eatery in Chennai which used to offer Chicken 78 and Chicken 82, and still sells the Chicken 90 which sadly, isn’t quite as famous as chicken 65.
Another hypothesis however not as famous, is that Chicken 65 was made with 65 outrageously zesty chillies. Back in the day, being able to tolerate chillies was seen as a demonstration of masculinity. Along these lines, if you could get yourself through a plate of Chicken 65, it would prove how masculine, charming and strong you are.
Another crazy idea suggests that Chicken 65 was named because the marinade took 65 days to plan and prepare. Yet, the same never prevailed as common sense alone defies this logic.
Also, there are some bizarre beliefs like, the chicken was cut into 65 pieces or that the chicken was 65 days old when it was utilized in the dish. some people also believe that some soldiers in the Chennai canteen were introduced a long menu which had this dish against the serial number 65 and, thus the dish got the name Chicken 65 (as it was easier to remember the serial number than the name.)
It is hard to trace or decide which one of these theories hold the truth when it comes to this old and magical recipe but, this just adds an element of beauty and mystery to the dish as a whole and makes it all the more special for the Indian foodies and chicken-lovers!
Chicken 65 has been around for over 50 years and it still, is considered to be one of the most favourite dishes of the country as a whole. This south Indian delight has travelled all through south and apparently, all the southern states actually have their own versions of the same dish.
The Karnataka version of Chicken 65 is garnished with freshly grated coconut. Andhra Pradesh has its own style which is dry, extremely spicy and the chicken is cooked instead of being fried. The Tamil Nadu version is similar to that of Kerala’s’ and is known as ‘Kori Sukka’.
Similarly, in the process of its journey, all the way from the south of the country to the northern parts, its recipe as well as ingredients have been twisted, reframed and changed considerably.
It has also travelled from Madras’ cafes to some very well-known restaurants and five-star hotels where it has been presented with a fusion, cooked with different ingredients and formed into various different versions
It is also very essential to note that this recipe has been passed from generations to generations.
Which means that it has gone from the times when ghee used to be the king of the kitchen to the reign of butter followed by the power vegetable oil and has reached all the way down to the trend of olive and mustard oil.
It has also fed people of various kinds. From the ones who love to eat it with their hands to the ones who cannot eat without a fork. From the ones who love the smell of ghee to the ones who run away from it. From the ones who value taste to the ones who watch their weight.
This national favourite has made its place in the hearts of all the world and each and every person hold a very different and customised version of it dear, in their hearts.
But it is essential to remember that the authentic taste is at the end of the day, the most superior.
So, the next time you find yourself in the beautifully captivating city of Chennai, remember to visit the Buhari hotel for a taste of the best chicken in the entire country!
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