Halloumi 65 is inspired by Chennai’s famous chicken 65 dish. This fun vegetarian take puts squeaky halloumi to work in a chilli & garlic yoghurt sauce.
Start by making oven-fried halloumi nuggets with my delicious, crispy batter. Toss it in the sauce along with crunchy onions and peppers. Serve as it is, in a wrap or my favourite way – which is with fries.
Is the 65 an Indo-Chinese dish?
No. It’s a common misconception as it’s similar in appearance to Indo-Chinese faves like Chilli Paneer, Manchurian, etc.
The 65 was actually created in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
What are the main ingredients in a 65 dish?
Every restaurant, hotel and street vendor has their own take on this dish. My version is an interpretation of the 65.
I incorporate key flavours and ingredients like curry leaves, chillies, yoghurt and garlic. Having said this, halloumi is not typically used – but it’s absolutely mouth watering.
Why is it called 65?
Legend has it that the original dish, said to have been created in a Chennai hotel, was Chicken 65. There are many wacky theories around why it’s called 65, some more plausible than others.
One suggests the dish was first created with 65 different ingredients, another that it was made with 65 varieties of chilli. Another even suggests that the chicken used to make the original version was 65 years old!
Whatever the origin of the dish, know that it’s fiery, tangy and slap-you-in-the-face delicious.
What else can I “65”?
The possibilities are endless. Batter your favourite protein or veggies to make this dynamite Indian dish. This recipe works particularly well with paneer, tofu, seitan, cauliflower and potatoes.
Ways to serve Halloumi 65
Enjoy this dish as part of a larger Indian meal. I suggest you pair it with something carby and plain, such as rice, paratha – or even fries!
I know, I’m a complete heathen but let’s be honest, what doesn’t taste good with fries?
This Halloumi 65 is a delicious addition to your lunch time wrap or roll. Add some salad and your favourite cooling dip/drizzle to temper the chilli heat.
Halloumi 65: Troubleshooting
This recipe works particularly well with paneer, tofu, seitan, cauliflower and potatoes. As my kitchen is a vegetarian zone, I can’t advise on animal-based ingredients but I do know the original version of this dish is Chicken 65. How to make that? No idea, mate.
Of course not. Feel free to adjust the amount of chilli according to your taste. I do feel the three types of chilli (plus black pepper, chilli sauce and mustard) used in this recipe all bring a unique flavour to the dish. However, you can use whatever you have in the cupboard or fridge and adjust the amounts to suit your level of heat tolerance.
Okay, so strictly speaking, curry leaves are a pretty big deal in this dish. They bring a unique flavour and South Indian charm. But I’m making this with halloumi so who am I to talk about authenticity or what the real deal is? If you don’t have curry leaves, just leave them out. Excuse the pun. Dried or frozen curry leaves are also fine to use.
100%. Swap the halloumi for tofu, your favourite no-meat meat or vegetables. Replace the yoghurt with a plant-based yoghurt alternative (such as soy yoghurt or coconut yoghurt). Simple.
Switch the self-raising flour with your favourite gluten-free plain flour blend and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder.
Totally. Just use plain flour and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
A quick bath in boiling hot water softens the halloumi up beautifully so it’s nice and squidgy inside. It also removes excess saltiness. I use this trick a lot when I cook paneer. So SQUIDGY!
Yes. To air fry the halloumi nuggets, place the batter-coated pieces in a SINGLE LAYER inside the greased basket of the airfryer. Ensure they’re not touching each other and that there’s a gap between each one. Spray liberally with oil. Air fry at 200°C/400°F for 8-10 minutes. You might need to cook them in batches.
Sure! Deep fry the battered halloumi nuggets at 180°C/350°F until golden all over, about 4 minutes. Take care not to overcrowd the oil.
Yes a thousand times over. They’re delicious as they are. Serve with your fave dip for some erm… dipping action.
The base ingredient for the sauce is yoghurt. Yoghurt has a tendency to separate when heat is applied which we don’t want. We add cornflour to stabilise the yoghurt and thicken the sauce.
Halloumi 65 recipe
- 450 g halloumi
For the coating:
- 50 g cornflour
- 50 g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp your favourite mayo I used Hellmann’s Vegan mayo
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp English mustard or 1 tsp dried mustard powder
- 8-10 curry leaves finely chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp oil I used rapeseed
- 25 ml water
- Spray oil
For the sauce:
- 1 tbsp oil I used rapeseed
- 6 large cloves garlic crushed
- 10 curry leaves
- 2 green chillies cut lengthways
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 green pepper cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 red onion cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tsp your favourite chilli sauce
- 150 g plain yoghurt
- 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 150 ml water
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
For the halloumi:
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
- Drain the halloumi and cut into large bite-sized chunks. Place it in a bowl and cover with boiling water. This will soften the halloumi pieces up beautifully and also remove excess saltiness. Allow to soak for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Place the halloumi in a large bowl and add the cornflour, self-raising flour, vegan mayo, English mustard, black pepper, garlic powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, curry leaves, lemon juice, oil and water. Use your hands to gently mix everything together and coat the halloumi pieces. the batter should be thick and quite sticky.
- Line two or three large baking trays with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking oil. Arrange the halloumi pieces on the baking parchment, leaving a 2cm gap between each one.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning half way through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
To make the sauce:
- Whisk together the yoghurt, cornflour and chilli powder until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add the oil, garlic, curry leaves, dried chillies and fresh chillies in rapid succession. Sauté for a few seconds until the garlic browns very slightly.
- Next, add the onions and peppers. Mix well. Add the yoghurt mixture, chilli sauce and 100ml water. Stir well. Stir continuously while cooking over a over medium heat, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt but remember the halloumi is salty so don’t be too generous with it.
- Add the crispy halloumi pieces and stir to coat. Cook for 1-2 minutes to heat the halloumi through. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve immediately.
- Serve immediately for maximum crispiness. Having said this, this still tastes great reheated the next day. For breakfast… #SorryNotSorry.
- To air fry the halloumi nuggets, place the batter-coated pieces in a SINGLE LAYER inside the greased basket of the airfryer. Ensure they’re not touching each other and that there’s a gap between each one or they will stick together. Spray liberally with oil. Air fry at 200°C/400°F for 8-10 minutes. You might need to cook them in batches.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Leftovers might be a little dry as the sauce will soak into the batter. You can always bake them in the oven or air fry them to reheat through. They’ll turn into halloumi nuggets. Delish!