Indian food is the type of food my husband misses most since we stopped eating out. I have a love-hate relationship with Indian food. I love the flavor and the spices, but even their “mild” can be too spicy for me. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. I do love it, but half of the time I can’t enjoy my food because it is so spicy.
Years ago, I had chicken 65, and it will always be one of my favorite Indian dishes. The chicken is usually boneless flavored with lots of spices, fried, and then tossed with a spicy sauce. The fact that it is fried is probably one of the reasons I love it (I know, I am a total fat kid), but also because of the spices. It is so flavorful. I would barely order it though because it has always been too spicy for me.
This is my version of chicken 65. The right level of heat for me and using chicken wings instead of boneless chicken. I have an unhealthy obsession with chicken wings. They are without a doubt one of my favorite foods. My perfect wing is fried with heat and flavor in the breading. I don’t prefer buffalo wings because they become soggy. I have to confess, I don’t do chain restaurants (even when we were eating out), but I absolutely love Outback Steakhouse “Kookaburra Wings.” All the seasoning is in the breading, so they stay crispy and flavorful. That was my inspiration for these wings. I wanted them super crispy, lots of flavor, and some heat.
Now I don’t want to mislead you, these wings have heat to them. They are the perfect combination of heat and flavor. They are spicy enough that I did not feed them to our son. The chili garlic paste at the end gives the wings most of the heat. You can add more or less to you liking. There is a cucumber yogurt raita to go with it to tone down the heat when it gets to be too much! I love the crunch of the cucumber and the creamy yogurt with all of the spices on the wings. It’s a beautiful combination.
This is an Indian inspired recipe so half the ingredient list is spices. Don’t let the list intimidate you. This list will require a trip to your local Indian market or grocery store. I love going to non-American grocery stores and asking questions. This is how you learn about food and people. One ingredient I am pretty sure you will only be able to find at an Indian grocery store, is the curry leaves. They are a must! There is no substitute for the flavor they provide. When I smell curry leaves, it instantly reminds me of the best Indian food I have ever eaten! They are very fragrant and provide so much flavor.
Chicken 65 Wings and Cucumber Raita Dip
This recipe is definitely a plan ahead. The chicken needs to marinate overnight and then sit with the breading for one hour before frying.
Yogurt Marinade for Chicken:
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup yogurt
4 lbs chicken wings (about 36 wings)
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup mayo
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
juice of half a lemon
1/2 of an English cucumber, seeded and finely diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp oil (peanut oil from the frying pot)
1 tsp cumin seeds
handful curry leaves
2 tbsp chile garlic paste (add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
2 tsp water
peanut oil for frying
In a large bowl (large enough to fit all the chicken wings), combine all of the ingredients for the yogurt marinade, except the chicken. Whisk to combine. Toss the chicken in the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To make the cucumber raita, combine all the ingredients for the raita in a bowl and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the breading, whisk all the ingredients for the breading together. About an hour and a 1/2 before frying, dredge each one of the chicken wings in the breading. No need to wipe off any of the marinade. The marinade will actually help the breading stick. Just be sure to dredge each wing individually to make sure they are coated well. Place each wing on a baking sheet. When finished place the baking sheet with the chicken wings in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This is an important step, as it allows the breading to dry out and creates a crispier crust when frying.
About 30 minutes before frying remove the chicken from the refrigerator. This helps to take the chill off of the chicken so it cooks evenly.
Fill a 6-quart dutch oven or a heavy bottom pot with peanut oil, about 2 inches deep. Preheat the oil to 375°.
Once the oil reaches temp, add about 6 to 7 wings and fry for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the chicken wings from the oil and place on a cooling rack that is on top of a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a warm oven (190°). Finish frying all of the chicken and place each batch in the oven to keep them warm.
Once you are finished frying all the chicken, place the wings in a large bowl. Set aside.
Heat a skillet with 2 tbsp of peanut oil over medium heat. Once hot add the cumin seeds, and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Then throw in the curry leaves. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until the curry leaves start to wilt and look crisp. Add the chili garlic paste and saute for 1 minute. Finally, add 2 tsp of water. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. Add the sauce to the chicken and toss well to combine.
Serve hot with the cucumber raita.