Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Mystery Of One of The World's Best Bar Snacks, Chicken '65!! Gluten Free.

   Lately our life has been centered mainly around packing. We sold my parents house and now we're involved in the hunt for something for ourselves, and that's all I'm saying about that. If I think about things too much I'll start feeling  like this:  

So, moving on, I was delighted to get an email the other day from my friend Irving Ong in LA. We're always amused by the ways various cultures translate other group's dishes. Irving is particularly fascinated by Indo-Chinese food. Nearly every Indian regional cookbook has a section dedicated to Indo Chinese recipes, particularly Gobi Manchuria. Now Irving puzzling over the origins of Gobi Manchuria (a great favorite with Indian friends in LA) led to a discussion of another legendary dish, the legendary Chicken '65. Yes, it does sound like a minus third rate poultry-oriented spy flick from the days of go-go boots and beehives.

    No one seems to know where Chicken '65 originated, the legends are legion. What does the 65 mean? The year the dish was created? The address of the restaurant where it was first served? The Number of spices in the dish? The number listing the dish on an unreadable menu? Who knows. What I do know is the dish is HUGELY popular and that's not an understatement. Irving told me that it was something that I simply had to try. Karan, Suvi, Shreyas, all sent word from LA, I had to make this dish. I would not regret it.

   Easier said than done. Besides all the legends surrounding the dish, the number of recipes for it are equally long. After trawling the internet looking for clues, I finally decided on one that seemed to fit the bill from The Tiffin Box. Straightforward, simple, and above all fast because with all the boxes and wrapping going on around here I don't exactly have time for slow food right now.

Chicken '65

Here's What You Need:
2 lb chicken breasts, or chicken thigh meat
oil for deep frying

1 Tbs Kashmiri chili (if you can't find that use an equal mix of paprika and cayenne)
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 inch piece of finely chopped ginger
2 shallots or  garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt to taste

5 Tbs gluten free cornstarch
2 Tbs sorghum flour (gluten free)
1 Tbs rice flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg beaten

Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup thick yogurt
1 Tbs Kashmiri chili
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs oil
2 shallots or garlic cloves finely chopped
1 inch piece of finely chopped ginger
salt to taste
pinch of sugar
fresh chopped cilantro

Here's What To Do:
Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.
Set it aside.
Mix together the marinade mix.
Add the coriander to the Kashmiri chili...

...and the finely ground fresh ginger and shallot.

Pour the marinade into the bowl of chicken bites.

Mix everything together well.

Pour in the lemon juice.

Stir things up well , salt to taste, and set it aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

While the chicken is chilling, mix together the gluten free coating.

Beat the egg and set it aside in a separate bowl.
Meanwhile prep the yogurt sauce.
Mix together the shallot, and ginger.

In a separate bowl whip the yogurt, add in the Kashmiri chili, lemon juice and spices. Set it aside.
Pour the oil into a deep pot, wok or kadhai. Bring it to 350 degrees.
When the oil is hot dip each chicken piece into the egg mixture.

Dredge the chicken in the coating and plop it into the hot oil. I cooked the chicken in batches of 4 or 5 pieces.
Cook each batch of chicken for about 6 minutes.
As they cook place them on a paper towel covered plate to drain.

Here is where the paths diverge on Chicken '65. Some people prefer to fry their chicken and then use the yogurt as a spicy dipping sauce. This recipe is a bit different. The yogurt sauce is heated and the chicken put back in until the yogurt is absorbed. Here's how that works.

Heat 3 Tbs of oil in a skillet or wok.
When the oil is hot toss in the chopped ginger, shallot or garlic and stir fry everything for about 30 seconds.
Add the friend chicken pieces to the pan, then add the seasoned yogurt to everything.

Stir the yogurt mixture into the pan and mix everything together well.

When the yogurt is absorbed into the chicken it's done.
Plate it, sprinkle it with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve it up!

   The important thing to look out for in this recipe, is not letting the crispy coating become un-crispy and peeling off while heating the chicken in the yogurt sauce. It worked fine for us, but I think next time I may save myself a roller coaster ride and just serve the spiced yogurt sauce on the side for dipping. So there you have it, the mystery dish, from the mystery place, that's loved throughout India. Sometimes you have to stop wondering about where something comes from and just shut up and eat it, which is what we did.

Coming up next, something a bit different. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori



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