Inspired by NYC, this halal cart chicken and rice recipe is packed with so many great flavors. The chicken is seasoned with warm spices and served on yellow rice with a tasty white sauce.
Street food is loved by everyone no matter where you're from. From chicken shawarma and doner kebab to kumpir and arayes, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean street food is known for its bright flavors. Halal cart chicken and rice is no exception and has been a staple of NYC street food scene for a long time. I have replicated the recipe for you to try and enjoy at home!
This recipe is sponsored by Farmer Focus. All opinions are mine, as always.
Table Of Contents:
All About Halal Cart Chicken
If you've walked around New York City, you've definitely seen food carts selling "chicken over rice." These carts were originally started by Egyptian immigrants and quickly became popular for their chicken and rice dish. The star of the show? The famous white sauce.
Over the years, more and more carts around NYC started selling chicken and rice and many of them might not be halal anymore, which refers to the specific method of meat preparation approved by Islamic law. The recipe I'm sharing with you today uses Farmer Focus chicken, which is halal, Certified Humane, and USDA Organic.
Farmer Focus never uses antibiotics and their products are non-GMO. Moreover, they are 100% traceable back to the farm! The farm ID on each package represents the farmer who raised that chicken and you can go back and find their farm's webpage to meet them. Check out Farmer Focus's FAQ page for learn more about them and what they represent.
The Anatomy of Halal Cart Chicken And Rice
- Chicken: The chicken is seasoned with warm spices and then seared in a cast iron skillet or griddle.
- Rice: The rice is toasted with turmeric and cumin then cooked until tender and fluffy.
- Salad: A simple salad usually made with lettuce and tomatoes.
- White sauce: The legendary and famous white sauce that everyone raves about. It's creamy, slightly sweet and tangy and it complements the whole dish very well.
What Do You Need To Make Halal Cart Chicken?
- Chicken: I prefer to use Farmer Focus boneless skinless chicken thighs. They are tender, juicy and absorb the flavors of the marinade very well. Farmer Focus is halal certified, humane, and organic. One thing that I love about this product is that you can actually meet your famer! Check out the store locator to find a store near you.
- Spices: You'll need a combination of turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, all spice, salt and pepper as well as a tiny bit of sugar for the white sauce.
- Lemon: To add some freshness and bright flavor!
- Olive oil: To marinate the chicken and toast the rice.
- Garlic: Just a few cloves for flavor, make sure not to overuse it.
- Rice: Long grain rice such as basmati works best for this recipe.
- Mayonnaise: You can use regular mayonnaise or olive oil based mayonnaise to make the white sauce.
- Yogurt: I like using whole milk yogurt, but you can also use low-fat.
- Vinegar: To balance the flavors of the white sauce and add that little bit of tang.
How To Make Halal Cart Chicken and Rice
Prepare The Chicken
- Slice the chicken thighs into bite size pieces and place it in a large bowl.
- Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, then season with minced garlic, paprika, coriander, cumin, all spice, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken and make sure all pieces are coated with the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour up to 6 hours.
- When ready to cook, heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, sear the chicken in batches. It takes about 5 minutes to cook each batch. Make sure not overcrowd the pan so the pieces get caramelized on the edges.
Cook The Rice
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes until translucent. Add in the rice followed by the turmeric, cumin and salt.
- Add the water and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and cover with the lid. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
Make The White Sauce
- Place the mayonnaise, yogurt, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl or a jar.
- Mix so all the ingredients are well combined.
To assemble halal cart chicken and rice, fill part of the plate with lettuce and tomatoes. Then add the rice and top with seared chicken. Finally, drizzle the white sauce all over the chicken and rice.
Storage and Reheating
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can reheat this dish in the microwave or in a pan over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Frequently asked questions
It's best to make this recipe right before serving. However, you can marinate the chicken and make the yellow rice and the white sauce up to a day in advance.
Yes. You can use boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces instead of thighs if desired.
More Street Food Classics
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Halal Cart Chicken and Rice
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 lemon juice of
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp all spice
- kosher salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 ½ cup basmati rice rinsed
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cumin
- kosher salt
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup whole milk yogurt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp vinegar
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- kosher salt
- 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes chopped
- Cut the chicken thighs into bite size pieces and place them in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, paprika, coriander and cumin. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Toss the chicken to make sure all pieces are coated with the marinade. Cover with a plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1 hour up to 6 hours in the fridge.
- Once you're ready to cook, heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and sear the chicken for about 5 to 8 minutes, until it's fully cooked. The chicken pieces will have caramelized edges which adds a lot of flavor.
- While the chicken is marinating, make the yellow rice. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Saute the onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Add in the rinsed rice followed by the turmeric, cumin and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Add in 3 cups of water and bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cover with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Turn the heat off, let it sit for 10 minutes then uncover and fluff the rice using a fork.
- In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise with the yogurt, garlic, vinegar, sugar and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside until you're ready to assemble.
- Divide the lettuce and tomatoes among the plates. Add some yellow rice to each plate and top it with the seared halal cart chicken. Finish with a generous drizzle of the white sauce. Serve immediately.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- You can use boneless skinless chicken breast instead of chicken thighs.
- You can marinate the chicken, make the yellow rice and the white sauce up to a day in advance.
Made this and loved it! I did increase the salt slightly in both the rice and the chicken but that's just our family's personal preference. Will definitely add it to the rotation.
Glad to know you enjoyed this dish!
The white sauce is a star, but all of this is just so good. Thank you for sharing a dish that I miss from visiting NYC.
Wow! This homemade, delicious, street food favorite looks amazing. I am looking forward to making this for my family.
I made this chicken and rice for dinner last night and my whole family loved it! Definitely adding to our regular rotation!
Holy. Guac. A. Moly. I'm getting hungry just looking at this. The flavors sound incredible, and I love the color.
We all loved this! I mean, the rice alone is super flavorful. Definitely making this again.
Such a filling and delicious meal! I love that this makes such great leftovers for lunch throughout the week.