Day 1: Chicken 65

Cities bring people together.  In the modern metropolis, people from all over the world gather for work, education, worship, and recreation.  While cities connect people on a global scale, food connects people on a local scale.

On a recent trip to Manilla, I had the pleasure of meeting an Indian youtube personality, Wilbur Sagunaraj.  His youtube channel is dedicated to celebrating the simple things in life.

 Wilbur Sagunaraj, the first class simple superstar with yours truly (I'm the beardly one)

Wilbur Sagunaraj, the first class simple superstar with yours truly (I'm the beardly one)

His many forays into global cultures are well worth the time to watch (check out The Village Way which he did for NPR, and Simple Superstar to get the overview).  It is through my interaction with Wilbur that I heard him sing about an Indian dish called Chicken 65.

The name Chicken 65 is a bit of a mystery and theories abound regarding its origin.  Some think the dish was invented in 1965, but it is likely much older.  Another theory says that it has 65 ingredients, but it is a much simpler dish than that.  My favorite theory for the win is that it was item number 65 on a menu.  In Wilbur's Simple Superstar, Chicken 65 comes into play as a comfort food for a weary and culture shocked traveler.  If someone writes a song about a food, then we must try it.

 Chicken 65 affectionately known as "Meat Lollipops"

Chicken 65 affectionately known as "Meat Lollipops"

Fortunately, we live in Houston where there are many great options for finding such a dish.  We happen to have restaurants which have both variants of the dish.  Pictured above is the fried version from Annam (1029 Hwy 6 N--Just north of I-10).  They call this version "meat lollipops."  It has a nice crispy texture for all of you mouth feel junkies.

 Here is my own attempt at Chicken 65  This is the "masala" version

Here is my own attempt at Chicken 65  This is the "masala" version

I found several recipes and gave it a go.  The most interesting ingredient that it called for was curry leaves (not at all related to curry powder).  My version is closer to the masala version that you can find at Biriani Pot (on Westheimer).  I have to agree with Wilbur that Chicken 65 is definitely comfort food.

 I think we fed about 25 friends that night.  Food is always best with friends

I think we fed about 25 friends that night.  Food is always best with friends