Anand, who presents Anjum’s Spice Stories on SBS’s Food Network, says of this recipe: “This has a fair amount of heat, but the favour is so good and the chicken so soft that you can’t stop eating!
“My mother’s friend used to make something similar with chicken on the bone and I just couldn’t stop eating even as it made me sniff and tear up; it was that good.
“No one knows why it is called chicken 65, as the origins of the recipe are really blurry, but it is a well-known and much loved dish in Andhra.
“There are a couple of versions – one with a sweet chilli sauce added to it and others with a vibrant red food colour. I leave both out, but sometimes add some Kashmiri chilli powder to the marinade, which has a lovely colour but only mild heat.”
The recipe is from Anand’s latest cookbook I Love India, which features recipes inspired by her family and travels.
Andhra green chilli chicken 65
For the marinade
4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
10g (2 tsp) finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (optional, see introduction above)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
4 tsp lemon juice
40g (3 tbsp) plain yogurt
2/3 tsp salt
For the chicken
2 chicken breasts, cut into 2cm pieces
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
Vegetable oil, as needed
25 fresh curry leaves
20g (1½ tbsp) finely chopped root ginger (peeled weight)
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3–6 Indian green finger chillies, to taste (1 finely chopped, 2–5 just pierced with a knife)
Good grinding of freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. Taste, adjust the salt and add the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but longer in the fridge would be better (return to room temperature before cooking).
Beat the egg and cornflour into the chicken and marinade.
In a deep, wide pan over a high heat, heat about 5cm vegetable oil. Once it is hot enough to fry with, add one-third of the chicken; it should sizzle as soon as it hits the hot oil. Cook over a high heat for 3 minutes, turning once, or until the chicken is deeply golden on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to blot off the excess oil. Repeat to cook all the chicken.
Pour the oil through a sieve into a small bowl. Return 2½ tbsp back to the pan and heat through. Add the curry leaves and cook for 20 seconds or until they are crisp. Add the ginger, garlic, green chillies and a good pinch of salt and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the chicken and black pepper and stir-fry over a high heat for another 30 seconds to bring the whole thing together.
Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
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