Crispy on the outside, tangy and juicy on the inside, Air Fryer Chicken 65 is a must make snack! This healthier version of the classic Indian-style appetizer is so good that it will disappear in seconds!
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We ordered Chicken 65 a few months ago from our favorite Indian takeout restaurant and since then we have been hooked. The spicy and crispy chicken appetizer with a hint of tanginess tasted so good that it would disappear in seconds.
When it got to a point that we had to portion out the dish before serving so that we all got a fair share, I realized that I had to learn how to make it at home.
The only hurdle was I needed to find a non-deep fried version. This is because if I deep fried the chicken, I would have to discard the oil used and I didn’t want to do that. So I took it upon me to create a healthier, air-fried version that we could enjoy guilt-free, and now you can too.
Reasons to love this recipe
- Healthier than deep-fried because the air fryer uses less oil and circulates hot air to get that crispy on the outside tender on the inside chicken.
- Cooks up in under 30 minutes.
- The marinade can be prepared in advance to decrease prep time.
- Works well as an appetizer or entrée.
History of Chicken 65
I love the history of this dish because there are so many different theories revolving around its origin. Chicken 65 was invented by A.M. Buhari at Hotel Buhari in Chennai, India.
This spicy, deep-fried chicken first debuted in 1965, which is where most people believe the name Chicken 65 originated.
Now, many people argue about the true origin of the name and this is where it gets interesting.
Some people claim the name comes from 65 pieces of chicken making the dish. While others believe the number 65 comes from the number of chilies in the dish, my favorite theory is that they use 65-day old chickens to make this tempting snack.
No matter how it got the name one thing is for sure, it was a huge hit and was here to stay!
How to make Chicken 65
When I was experimenting with this recipe, I made many versions that were delicious but there was something missing that I could not put my finger on. This was until I stumbled upon Ranveer Brar’s Chicken 65 recipe.
He added chopped curry leaves to the marinade and what a difference it made! It took my recipe from being good to awesome!
Ingredients at a glance
- Chicken – I use boneless skinless chicken thighs in this recipe. It results in a moist and juicy chicken. If you prefer, you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- Marinade – A spicy and flavorful marinade made of yogurt, curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, Kashmiri chili powder, ground pepper, salt, and avocado oil provides the base flavor of Chicken 65.
- Rice flour – coats the chicken and the marinade to allow the pieces to really crisp in the air fryer.
- Oil – Use any oil with a high smoke point. I prefer avocado oil.
- Tempering – avocado oil, curry leaves, Indian or Thai green chilies, garlic, black pepper, and chaat masala cook together to release their flavors before tossing to coat the finished chicken.
- Lemon and cilantro to serve.
Step by Step Instructions
- Chop chicken thighs into 2-inch pieces.
- In a large bowl combine yogurt, chopped curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, Kashmiri powder, ground black pepper, salt, and avocado oil.
- Add the chopped chicken pieces and coat them one at a time to make sure each piece is evenly marinated.
- Let the chicken marinate for about 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add rice flour to the chicken marinade and coat the pieces well.
- Next, completely coat the air frying basket with oil before placing it over the trivet.
- Set the temperature of the air fryer to 400 °F and preheat the fryer for 3 minutes.
- Place the chicken pieces into the air frying basket making a single layer. Make sure not to overcrowd the chicken in the basket. You will need to cook them in 2 batches.
- Allow the chicken pieces to cook for 7 minutes.
- When the cooking cycle completes, flip the chicken and cook for an additional 7 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining chicken.
Finish the Chicken 65 with tempering
- To temper, heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add garlic, curry leaves, and green chilies. Sauté the spices for about 20 seconds then add the cooked chicken.
- Sprinkle pepper powder and chaat masala over the chicken. Mix well and remove from heat.
- Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve immediately with a side of lemon.
Be sure to cut the chicken into equal sized pieces for even cooking.
Use chicken breasts in place of chicken thighs.
How to prep ahead
If you are planning to make chicken 65 for entertaining, marinate the chicken overnight but make the dish the day of the party for the best-tasting chicken. You can refrigerate them but they do tend to become dry.
I tried marinating the chicken and freezing it but it didn’t work for me. The marinade became very watery after being thawed.
How to store
If prepping in advance, store the marinade in an air-tight container for about a day at most before using.
For leftovers, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Chicken 65 can be adapted to a vegetarian dish by swapping the chicken for paneer, also called Paneer 65 (recipe coming soon).
Serve it with
- Serve this crispy, spicy chicken with fresh lemon wedges or top with cilantro.
- Serve the air fryer Chicken 65 over a fresh plate of rice and a side of Tadka dal.
New to Indian cooking? Start here
Other appetizer recipes that you’ll love
- Air Fryer French Fries – These crispy vegan air-fryer French fries are so damn good that they could give the deep-fried ones a run for their money.
- Tandoori chicken tikka – This quick and easy Tandoori chicken tikka recipe is a delicious appetizer dish that is slightly charred on the outside and succulent on the inside. Make this over the stovetop or air fry it using Mealthy CrispLid. All it takes about 30 minutes of cook time!
- Crispy Roasted Idli Fry – Turn your leftover idlis into this delicious, ghee-laden snack that doubles up as breakfast.
- Tandoori chicken – This quick and easy Tandoori chicken recipe makes the most flavorful and authentic chicken that is crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside – just like it is supposed to be! The recipe includes both Instant Pot and oven version.
- Indian Bread Roll – This crispy Air Fryer Indian Bread Roll stuffed with spicy potato filling is a delicious snack that you can savor any time of the day.
Air Fryer Chicken 65
- 1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs skinless
For the Marinade
Before air frying
- 3 tablespoons rice flour
For coating the mesh tray (Air fryer)
- 1 teaspoon oil avocado
- 3-4 lemon wedges
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro / coriander leaves for garnishing
- Chop the chicken into 2-inch pieces.
- Combine all the ingredients under the marinade section in a mixing bowl.
- Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and coat them one at a time so that each piece is evenly marinated.
- Let the chicken sit in the marinade for about 30 minutes.
- After it has been marinated, add rice flour to the chicken marinade and coat it well.
- Completely coat the air frying basket with oil before placing it over the trivet. Set the temperature to 400°F (200°C )and preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes.
- Place the chicken pieces on the air frying basket in a single layer making sure not to overcrowd them – you’ll have to do it in two batches.
- Allow the chicken pieces to cook for 7 minutes.
- Once the cooking cycle is complete, Flip the chicken pieces and cook for another 7 minutes. Check the internal temperature to make sure it is over 165 degrees F.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat the process with the next batch of chicken.
Finish the dish with tempering
- To temper, heat oil in a pan and once hot, add garlic, curry leaves, and green chilies. Saute it for about 10-20 seconds and then add the cooked chicken. Sprinkle pepper powder and chaat masala over the chicken. Mix well and take it off heat.
- Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve immediately with a side of lemon wedges.
- Use any oil with a high smoke point. I prefer avocado oil.
- I prefer boneless chicken thighs for this recipe because the end result is moist and succulent. You can always use boneless chicken breasts.
- Make sure to chop the chicken thighs into equal-sized pieces for even cooking.
Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.