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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Return of the Halal Cart: Chicken & Rice

Chicken and Rice, Halal Cart Style
Many Christmases ago on a chilly winter night, I patiently waited on the corner of 53rd and 6th in Midtown Manhattan. Staring ahead, I saw our line wrapped around the block, all waiting to order "chicken and rice" from probably the most famous Halal cart in New York. The man in front of me nodded at me knowingly, "make sure you ask for both sauces." I did. It tasted amazing. Maybe it had more to do with the cold and the midnight hunger than anything else, but nevertheless, it was a street food I remembered.

For those of you that know what I am talking about (and for those of you that don't), it's time to bring back the delicious chicken and rice!

Chicken and Rice, Halal Cart Style
Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 4-6 (or 2-4 if it's been too long since you've had it)
For the Chicken
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
For the Rice
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp of chili powder
  • 1.5 cups of basmati rice
  • 2.5 cups of chicken broth
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (plain)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Combine lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic and olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season marinade to taste with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a 1-gallon ziplock bag and add half of the marinade. Marinate chicken in fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours (it will get soggy if it's over 4 hours).
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces to skillet to brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until cooked through. Transfer to cutting board and let it cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Melt butter in a large dutch oven and add chili powder and turmeric powder to cook for one minute. Toast rice in dutch oven for 4 minutes until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
  4. Chop chicken pieces into 1-2 inch cubes. Place them in a bowl along with remaining marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. Add chicken broth to dutch  oven and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer on medium low heat, covered, for 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from heat and let it stand for 15 minutes (covered).
  6. Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat original chicken pan over medium heat and add chicken pieces to heat for a few minutes.
  8. Serve chicken pieces over rice, with white sauce drizzled on top. Add tabasco for spice. Can also serve with sliced iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and pita bread.  


  1. You can't be serious, I refuse to believe that something which looks this gorgeous came from the streets, and on a cart, nevertheless!
    The photo is amazing! You made this? Wow, that's some gourmet meal :D
    (And I'm so happy I learnt to cook soup...sighs :p )

  2. That vendor is my all-time favorite street food, halal or otherwise! Mmm, I miss it...thanks for the recipe, I know my hubby will go crazy for it!

  3. i can't believe you made chicken and rice!! i am so bookmarking this and making it for my friends. they love doing late night runs to eat this stuff. i bet its from the same vendor....

  4. Lovely!!!!
    Chicken and rice is my favorite...
    This looks delicious.

    B/W I have send you an email with some recipes, hope you will enjoy them.

  5. I think I'll save myself a trip to New York and try your adaptation next time I visit. This looks perfect!