Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chicken 56

In my first year of college, I used to live in a vegetarian hostel which was a huge dietary shock for moi, who was raised primarily on fish and meat. Following my animal craving dormies, every evening I dutifully stood in queue with my little stainless steel tiffin box for a ladle of red and crispy Chicken 65 at the roadside cart eatery with foul mouthed auto drivers and stinky lechers high on country liquor. Every elbow and groping attempt was worth that ten rupees worth garlicky, extremely doubtful poultry spicy enough to make my nose run and eyes water. Of course for that money, I mostly got rice flour, curry leaves and red food color that bled onto my fingers and wouldn’t go after repeated hand washings.

Then I used to think my love for Chicken 65 was solely based on the unavailability of the bird on my student budget until I had the dish at Nandini’s for much more. As I bit into my first piece of chicken, crunchy on the outside, juicy inside I reached my first food O.

It didn’t take me long after moving to the US, to realize I cooked better Indian food than the grease dripping chole and chewy Tandoori chicken most restaurants served in the name of authentic desi khaana and when they managed to dish out good stuff all the villages belles and Hindu gods on the walls made me rather nervous to eat. In all my trials and tribulations, Chicken 65 had completely abandoned me and vice versa in what I saw as an ego tussle. Finally yesterday afternoon, overcome by motherland nostalgia I succumbed and scoured the net for her recipe.

Unfortunately most recipes called for food color and some kind of home ground South Indian masala, neither of which I had in hand. All I had was Kaaram podi and that had to do. Then when it came to actual cooking, my oil stinginess took over and the chicken started sticking to the pan despite constant stirring. Reluctantly I had to add water and cover cook. This resulted in a fantastic chicken curry but not Chicken 65. Since I no longer eat Chicken, I halfheartedly judged my creation based on N’s facial expressions – he sniffed, then bit, held back tears and finally grinned like a Cheshire cat. I took a bow. Here’s Chicken 65 56 for you.

Chicken 65 56


Chicken – 1lb (pref. with bone)

Garlic – 5tbsp minced

Red chili powder – 1tbsp

Turmeric powder– 1/4 tbsp

Salt – to taste

Soya sauce – 1tsp

Corn flour – 1tbsp

Kaaram podi – 1tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1tsp

Green chilies – 6 finely chopped

Curry leaves – 3 sprigs

Oil – 1tbsp

Water – 1/2 cup or as needed

Peanuts – 2 tbsp crushed (optional)


  • Marinate chicken with garlic, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, soya sauce, corn flour and kaaram podi for half hour.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add mustard seeds, green chilies and curry leaves.
  • Once the spices sputter add the marinated chicken pieces and sauté for 2-3minutes on medium heat.
  • When the chicken starts sticking to the pan, add water and cover cook for 15minutes or until chicken is done. The gravy shouldn’t be runny but just enough to coat the chicken pieces.
  • Garnish with crushed peanuts. Serve with noodles or any Indian bread.

Serves – 2/3


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