Chicken 65 is a very popular spicy,
deep-fried chicken dish originating from Chennai (Madras), India, as
a bar snack, entree, or quick snack. The flavour of the dish comes
from ginger, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and vinegar although the
exact recipe can vary. It can be prepared using chicken on or off the bone.
While the name "Chicken 65" is
universally used to refer to the dish, there are many different
stories for how the name came about although none have any supporting
evidence. Many sources claim Chicken 65 was a dish introduced in 1965
at the famous Buhari Hotel restaurant in Chennai by its founder
A.M.Buhari, a pioneer in the South Indian food industry. They also
offer Chicken 78, Chicken 82 and Chicken 90, introduced in 1978, 1982
and 1990 respectively which lends credence to the claim. The launch
of the Chicken 65 in the year 1965 was well documented with
advertisements in national dailies like The Hindu and A.M.Buhari
didn't want to monopolize the product by patenting the recipe which
would hinder the global popularity of the product.
Other claims on the reason for the name are:
*The dish is said to require 65 days to prepare the
marinade, but this is unlikely for reasons of freshness and flavour.
*One account claims that the dish emerged as a
simple meal solution for Indian soldiers in 1965.
*Another account claims that it is a dish
containing 65 chilli peppers devised by an enterprising hotelier
*The name is also claimed to relate to a
requirement for the meat to be from 65-days-old chickens.
*Yet another source claims that northern Indian
army soldiers frequented a military canteen in Chennai. Its menu were
written in Tamil, the local language. As most of the soldiers could
not read Tamil, they made their choice by citing the number of the
dish on the menu. The dish's popularity spread among the soldiers by
word of mouth. They'd simply ask for "number 65"; soon, the
dish officially became to be known as Chicken 65.
Atul Bhola, owner of Masala Art in Tenleytown,
where you can order the dish, supports this saying the name comes
from a restaurant in southern India where Chicken 65 was merely the
65th item on a long list of chalkboard dishes. this dish originated
in a military canteen in Chennai and as most of the soldiers,
officers were from various parts of the country, to avoid language
problems, they actually used a unique numbering system in the menu card/board.
and this particular dish was the 65th item on that menu. so it
became chicken 65.
Whatever the origins Chicken 65 is famous and
popular and has found a place in most non-vegetarian restaurants. One
famous London restaurant that features it and it calls it Madras
Buhari Chicken 65 lending credence to the Buhari claim as the origin,
Perhaps a favourite version of the story is one
that in The Hindu, which suggests that the Chicken 65 recipe first
used 65 chillies for every kilogram of chicken - based on the
popularity of spicy food as a way to prove one's manhood!