Satya’s Chicken 65

From issue #105. September, 2022
Photography by Sarah Tuck.
Satya’s Chicken 65

This is one of the most quintessential dishes of Indian street food; you find many variations depending on the street food vendor and their take on it. The dish is bright red in colour and has a reputation of being spicy. Many myths about its origin and names include, it has 65 different types of chilli, 65 different spices or even 65 pieces of chicken. But nonetheless it always packs a punch and puts a smile on my face while I’m eating it.

Serves: 3 as a snack


2 large eggs
500 grams skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ tablespoon grated ginger
½ tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
a few drops Indian red food colouring, optional (if you want the OG style)

sunflower oil, for deep-frying
1 tablespoon each roughly chopped ginger, roughly chopped garlic and roughly chopped
green chilli
2 stems curry leaves (around 20 leaves)
1 tablespoon yoghurt
¼ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon red chilli powder
¼ teaspoon Indian red food colouring
1 teaspoon MSG
chopped coriander leaves, to garnish


INSTANT MARINADE: Break the eggs into a large bowl containing the chicken. Combine all the other marinade ingredients thoroughly with the chicken and eggs, and season with salt to taste. You can use the chicken straight away or leave it to marinate in the fridge overnight.

TO COOK AND SERVE: Pour enough oil to fry the chicken into a deep pan on the stovetop, at least 4cm. Check that it’s the right temperature by placing a small drop of the marinade in the pan. If it floats to the top and you can see it bubbling away, you are ready to go. Slowly add the marinated chicken and deep-fry until cooked and golden. Do this in batches if needed – don’t overcrowd the pan. Put the cooked chicken a bowl and set aside.

Place a wok on the stovetop and add 1/3 cup oil. Once heated almost to the point of smoking, add the ginger, garlic and green chilli. Stir for about 10 seconds. Add the curry leaves, yoghurt, garam masala, red chilli powder, food colouring and MSG one by one, in quick succession. Add the fried chicken. You want to develop a ‘breath of the wok’ flavour but this second frying is very quick – it only takes about 2 minutes. 

Transfer the wok contents onto a serving dish and garnish with the coriander. Serves 3 as a snack

Cook’s note: Add big slices of beetroot to the marinade to get a natural reddish colour instead of using food colouring. Discard the beetroot before frying. You don’t have to use MSG but it’s good for the soul and the tastebuds. Ensure you cook the chicken thoroughly in the first frying to avoid eating raw chicken!