Air Fryer Chicken 65 is made from crispy, fried pieces of chicken tossed a hot and zesty yogurt sauce. Slather it in the sauce and enjoy a taste of India. This mouthwatering dish is delicious and addictive!
Boneless chicken pieces are marinated in yogurt and spices and then air fried to make juicy and tender bite sized pieces. With this recipe you can make a restaurant quality Indian favorite at home without the effort or calories of deep frying.
This dish is flavorful, with a lot of heat from the chili powder and red chili peppers. The Indian spices and yogurt are what give it its unique flavor profile!
Why You Will Love Chicken 65
- You love fried chicken, you love Indian spices. So, why not combine them into one dish?
- This dish can be made HOT! If you love hot and spicy food you have to try this recipe!
- It makes an excellent an appetizer or a main dish and is perfect as a party snack.
- It is a great way to enjoy an Indian inspired food at home.
What is Chicken 65?
Most cultures around the world have a version of fried chicken, whether it is American style buttermilk fried chicken or spicy Korean fried chicken. Chicken 65 is one of the most popular ways to make fried chicken in India.
What sets this dish apart is the sauce. After frying the boneless pieces are coated in a thick, spicy, yogurt sauce, in a process known as tempering. This gives it the unique flavor that makes it so popular.
I have loved to make and eat Indian food since I was taught basic Indian techniques by a college roommate. And while I’ve enjoy Chicken 65 at restaurants I never wanted to make it at home, because of the hassle of deep frying.
But cooking this in the air fryer is much simpler than deep frying and it makes the final dish better for you. If you’d like to try a traditional Indian Chicken 65 recipe try this one from Swasthi’s Recipes. Or keep reading for my air fryer version!
The list of ingredients for this recipe is pretty long, but don’t let that intimidate you! Many of the same ingredients are in the marinade and the sauce, so there are less than it looks like at first glance.
The cooking techniques aren’t difficult, you just have to mix a bunch of things for the marinade and sauce. In the entire list of ingredients there is only one that American cooks rarely use and that might be more difficult to find.
These are a signature flavor in southern Indian cooking and are the leaves of the curry plant. They are used in cooking both as fresh and dried leaves.
You might find dried curry leaves at a large well stocked grocery store, but most likely you will have to visit an Indian food store. You can also buy dried leaves online if there aren’t Indian markets near you.
The subtle flavor of the curry leaves is part of what gives this dish its distinctive taste, which makes it worth the trip. If you can find fresh leaves use them, but otherwise dry one work fine.
More Common Ingredients
Chicken – This dish is made with bite sized boneless chicken pieces. Either breast or thigh meat works fine in the recipe.
Cornstarch and rice flour – These two ingredients coat the meat so it gets nice and crispy.
Yogurt – Plain, unflavored yogurt is used in both the marinade and the sauce. In the marinade it helps breaks down the protein and tenderizes the chicken pieces.
Dried red chilis – These chili pepper spice up the sauce and help give the dish its heat. I suggest using 2 in the recipe, but more works if you like it spicy. You can also use fresh green chili peppers if you prefer.
Chili paste – If you don’t have chili paste substitute a mixture of oil and ground chili pepper instead, as described in the recipe card.
Egg white – The egg white just helps make the sauce really thick. You can leave it out without affecting the taste.
Spices – In addition to the ingredients listed above this dish is flavored with ginger, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken 65
Cut the meat into small pieces. Since chicken 65 is traditionally served as an appetizer the pieces should be bite sized, around 1 inch.
Mix the yogurt with cornstarch, rice flour, ginger, garlic, chopped curry leaves, chili paste, salt and pepper. Whisk it to combine into a thick marinade.
Then add the chicken pieces and stir it so it is well coated. It should marinade, refrigerated, at least 2 hours, but longer is better. The yogurt will tenderize the meat, so leave it overnight if possible.
2. Air Fry
When you are ready to make the dish preheat the air fryer at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes. Spray or brush the air fryer basket with a little oil and then add a single layer of chicken pieces to the basket. Using parchment paper makes cleanup easier.
Depending on the size of your air fryer basket you might need to cook in batches. Spray or brush a little more oil on top of the chicken pieces in the basket.
Tip: Don’t use commercial spray oils. They contain preservatives that can damage the basket. Use a pastry brush or buy an inexpensive oil sprayer.
Cook at 350 degrees F for 7 minutes. Then pull the basket out and use tongs to flip the pieces over. Cook on the other side for 5 minutes, until the pieces are browned and cooked to 165 degrees F.
Continue to air fry the chicken pieces until they are all cooked, then set them aside while you make the sauce.
3. Make the Sauce
Making the sauce is called tempering, and it is part of what makes this dish unique and tasty. It only takes a few minutes to make this sauce so get all the ingredients measured and ready before you start cooking it!
First mix the yogurt with the 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and set aside. If you are using the optional egg white mix it into the yogurt also. Then heat a large frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add the oil followed by the garlic and cumin. Let them saute for a few seconds. Then add the fresh curry leaves and dried red chili peppers (both whole, not chopped). Let them fry for about 30 seconds.
Then add the yogurt cornstarch mixture and the chili paste or chili powder and stir. Then mix in the salt and pepper. Stir until everything is combined together and the sauce thickens slightly.
Finally add the air fried chicken pieces and toss them with the sauce to coat.
How to Serve
Chicken 65 is traditionally served as an appetizer with lemon wedges and raw onions. Or you can serve it as a main dish.
It goes well with rice and an Indian side dish like dal or raita. Or you could make some naan bread and eat it like a wrap. That’s not traditional, but it would be tasty!
How to Store
You can store leftovers in the refrigerator in an air tight container for 4 days or in the freezer for about 2 months. It won’t be as crispy when it is reheated.
If you don’t love hot and spicy food don’t eat the red peppers, leave them in the pan. It will still be spicy, but not super hot. I thought this was obvious, but my husband ate one and insists I should have warned him!
It is worth a little effort to go to an Indian market for the curry leaves. They give the recipe a unique taste and flavor.
Make sure the chicken pieces are evenly sized so they all cook at about the same rate.
The most commonly accepted theory is that it’s name comes from the fact it was invented in 1965, but Buhari hotel in Chennai, India. It quickly became popular all over India and remains a staple of modern Indian cuisine.
The dish gets its red color from the chili powder or chili paste used to flavor it. Restaurants frequently add food coloring to it to make it look “better”. But there isn’t any need to add food coloring for making the dish at home, unless you just want it look like it would in a restaurant.
Find More Air Fryer Recipes from Around the World
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast or thigh
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon rice flour
- 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 sprig of curry leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chili paste or 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 tablespoons yogurt
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 egg white (optional)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 2 sprigs of curry leaves, whole
- 2 whole dried red chilies (or more)
- 1 tablespoon chili paste or 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- Dice the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- In a bowl combine all the marinade ingredients and stir. Add the diced chicken and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F. Spray or brush a little oil on the basket, and put the marinaded chicken pieces in it. Spray or brush the top with a little oil. You might need to fry the chicken in batches.
- Air fry at 350 degrees F for 6 minutes. Then pull out the basket and flip the chicken over. Air fry at 350 F for another 5 minutes, or until the chicken is crispy and the edges are browned. Set the air fried chicken aside while you make the sauce.
- Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add the oil. While you wait for the oil to heat get all the sauce ingredients measured and place them right next to the stove, because the sauce cooks very quickly.
- Stir the cornstarch into the yogurt and set it aside. If using the optional egg white stir it into the yogurt also. The egg white helps make the sauce thicken.
- Add the cumin and garlic to the hot oil and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the whole curry leaves and whole dried red chilis to the frying pan. Stir and let them fry for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the yogurt/cornstarch mixture and the chili paste or chili powder. Then add the salt and pepper. Mix until everything is combined and let it heat for a minute or two to thicken slightly.
- Add the chicken and toss so that it is coated in the sauce.
- Serve as an appetizer garnished with lemon and onion. Or use it as a main dish with rice, dal another Indian dish.
Add more chili powder, chili paste or dried red peppers to increase the spiciness of this dish for your preferences.
You can add red food coloring to the marinade if you want to enhance the red color of the final dish.
Cut the chicken pieces evenly so they air fry at about the same rate.
Don't eat the dried red peppers unless you are looking for extra spiciness.
Don't use commercial spray oils, they contain preservatives which can damage the air fryer basket. Use a pastry brush or buy an inexpensive oil sprayer.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 540Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 1892mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 61g
Nutrition facts are estimates.