Chicken 65

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Chicken 65

Chicken 65 is a spicy, deep-fried chicken dish originating from Tamil Nadu, 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. Curry leaves play an important role in the flavor.

While the name "Chicken 65" is universally used to refer to the dish, there are many different stories for how the name came about.[1] It is generally acknowledged that no one knows which (if any) of these anecdotal theories are correct.

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.[2] They also offer Chicken 78, Chicken 82 and Chicken 90, introduced in 1978, 1982 and 1990 respectively. Amitabh Bachchan's Kaun Banega Crorepati (Season 1), featured Chicken 65 as a Buhari invention as did Siddarth Basu's Quiz Time on Doordarshan in the 90s.[3][4] A report in 'The Hindu' in 2013 mentions this too.[2] The introduction of the dish 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 tales on the reason for the name are mentioned below, but cannot be proved:

  • The dish is said to require 65 days to prepare the marinade, but this is unlikely for reasons of freshness and flavour.[2][clarification needed]
  • One account claims that the dish emerged as a simple meal solution for Indian soldiers in 1965.[clarification needed]
  • Another account claims that it is a dish containing 65 chilli peppers devised by an enterprising hotelier.[5][6][7][8]
  • The name is also claimed to relate to a requirement for the meat to be from 65-day-old chickens.[2][clarification needed]
  • Yet another source claims that northern Indian army soldiers frequented a military canteen in Chennai. Its menu was 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 came to be known as Chicken 65.[2]
  • An urban legend suggests that the dish was invented by a culinary-minded electronics engineer whose work involved designing batteries from Terbium, an element whose atomic number is 65.
  • Another account claims that the creator of the dish required chillies from Doddabetta, the highest mountain in Tamil Nadu. However, a pack of vicious dogs were known to roam the Doddabetta. The chef sent many men to the Doddabetta to obtain the chillies yet no one returned, unable to climb the treacherous mountainside, or falling prey to the pack of dogs. Eventually, the 66th man went and was able to retrieve the famous chillies. The chef decided to honour the 65 men who had given their lives for the vital ingredient and named the dish Chicken 65.
  • A popular story told by elders to children about the dish is that it originally came at the time of Mahendravaram I, a Pallava King who defeated the Kalabhras. Mahendravaram I is seen as a hero by many in the Tamil Nadu district and legend has it he himself slaughtered 65 enemy soldiers and upon victory ordered a grand feast. His personal chefs took the remains of the 65 slaughtered and cooked them such a way that all were awed at the fantastic taste of human flesh. Since then the main ingredient has changed to chicken following the demise of cannibalism, yet the precise spices and cooking method remains the same. Chefs decided the name the dish Chicken 65, as the original dish contained 65 corpses.

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