Halal Cart Chicken and Rice

Cook date: March 24, 2021

This recipe comes from SeriousEats.com. Although the name is inaccurate, this dish is strictly delicious and company worthy.

Halal is a set of guidelines on how animals are to be fred, raised, and slaughtered for human consumption. According to the Time magazine website:

Halal animals must be slaughtered by a Muslim, who says a blessing, and by hand, not by machine (which is the way many chickens in the U.S. are killed. Once killed, the animal’s blood must drain completely, since Muslims who eat Halal do not consume the fresh blood of animal


My first thought was “Oh, that’s like kosher” Well, not strictly speaking. Chowhound.com has this to say:

Observed by Jews, kosher is a Hebrew word for fit or proper, often in reference to food. Muslims use the Arabic word halal to describe food that is permissible.


The similarity and differences are spelled out in the chowhound.com reference above.

I would be shocked if the chicken I used for this dish was raised and slaughtered according to Halal standards. Reading Caroline Russock’s article on this dish in Serious Eats, Halal is more of a description of the many food carts in Midtown Manhattan which serve this dish.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s dive in. This dish has 3 components: the chicken, the rice, and the white sauce. Let’s start with the marinade for the boneless/skinless chicken thighs. I totally agree with Caroline Russock; thighs are a much better candidate for this dish that breasts. The white meat of chicken breasts have little fat or other juicy bits so the final dish will be dry. The marinade is made up of olive oil, salt, pepper, coriander seed, fresh oregano, lemon juice, and garlic.

Chicken marinade ingredients.

First I combined the dry ingredients in a small food processor then slowly drizzled in the lemon juice and olive oil. I recently bought a small Kitchen Aid food processor that worked great for this dish. Our old small processor spat oil out everywhere when trying to add it while the blade was whirring. The new one has a much smaller opening than the old one, and is offset from the middle. Here the marinade is completely whirred.

Blended marinade

I was surprised by how little marinade is required 2 pounds of chicken.

Chicken marinade ready to go to work.

We split the marinade, adding half to the chicken in a well sealed plastic bag and reserving the other half for later. The chicken needs to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4. I started late and was short on time so I was on the short side of the timeline.

Next we prepare the rice. 1½ cups of rice, chicken stock, butter, and a spice mix of turmeric and cumin.

Rice prep

After melting the butter in a non-stick skillet, we toss in the spices and stir for just a few seconds; it doesn’t take long before the aroma hits you. Yum. Then I added the rice and sautéd it for 4-5 minutes. It took on the color of the spices. I was getting excited!

Rice sautéing in butter, turmeric, and cumin

The Serious Eats recipe finishes the rice on the stove, but I love the convenience of my rice cooker, so I added the rice, some salt, the chicken stock and pressed “Go”.

Onto the third step: the white sauce. My younger son probably wouldn’t eat this; he despises what he would lump in the category of “gelatinous white stuff.” His loss. Mix together mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, sugar, flat-leaf parsley and vinegar. Confession: the wine vinegar is just a prop here; to match the food cart vibe I used plain old white vinegar.

White sauce ingredients

Chop the parsley, juice the lemon, measure out the other stuff and whisk it all together. Store it in the refrigerator until serving time. For a food cart experience put the sauce in a plastic squirt bottle for the serving step.

The delicious white sauce

The rice is almost done and the chicken is sufficiently marinaded so let’s finish. Sauté the chicken in some oil until brown on both sides and 165° in the center.

Frying the chicken

When the chicken is done, chop it into bite-sized pieces, put in in a bowl and add the reserved marinade. Putting this together is simple. Put the chicken into a skillet – I used our non-stick skillet.

Warming the chicken.

Scoop a nice serving of rice into a pasta bowl or plate, add some chicken, lettuce and tomato slices and cover with the white sauce. True cart chicken probably uses old-school iceberg lettuce but we used red leaf. Side with some lightly buttered and toasted pita bread.

Halal cart chicken.

Wow! I can not describe how good this tastes; all three components were packed with flavor. My mouth is watering looking at these pictures. This is a fantastic meal to serve to company. You can prep the sauce ahead of time and get the chicken through the marinade and sauté stage and stash back in the fridge. Start the rice about an hour before you want to eat. At the last minute, warm the chicken, toast the pita bread and serve.

Rating: A perfect dish for company: it’s delicious and easy to prepare.

We liked this dish so much we will be serving it at one of our first two back-from-COVID dinners with our vaccinated friends.

Make this dish.

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