If you’ve ever been to New York City, you’ve probably tried something off a halal street cart. And if you searched for this specific recipe, then that was probably chicken over rice. Chicken over rice halal cart-style is absolutely delicious and simple to make. It has marinated chicken, yellow rice and creamy white sauce. It’s easily made with grocery store ingredients for an everyday meal.
Origin of Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style
The halal cart craze started in 1990 in New York City. Three Egyptian migrants started a hot dog stand just like many others. With time, they realized there was actually a larger opportunity catering to Muslim taxi drivers who needed halal food. At that moment the Halal Guys were born as the first of its kind. Amongst the dishes they serve are middle eastern style gyros, pitas, falafel, beef, chicken and rice. That’s where this halal cart chicken entered our lives. The Halal Guys are known for having long lines of street food fanatics, looking to try that Chicken Over Rice. Then many more halal carts were founded, all serving similar versions of that original menu.
What is halal?
Halal is the name Muslim people give food that has been treated and prepared according to Islam law. For example, halal food vendors exclude pork dishes because Muslims don’t eat pork. Not only that but they need to clean utensils and equipment in such a way as to ensure no contact is made between forbidden food and what they eat. That doesn’t really imply anything for those of us not following a halal diet, but for me, it’s always nice to understand.
Components in Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style
There are many components to Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style and they are all very simple to make at home, trust me. These components are the basis to start with:
- Chicken: Of course, there’s chicken in this dish! Now, halal cart-style chicken has a marinade that adds that depth of flavour we all love. Marinades can vary between carts and recipes, you can definitely play around and make your own.
- Rice: Rice is classically yellow due to the addition of turmeric. Also, basmati rice is typically used.
- White Sauce: This white sauce is a long-distance relative of a Greek tzatziki sauce. The base is also Greek yogurt and they add garlic powder there for that kick.
- Tomatoes and Lettuce: To make this Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style more balanced, they tend to serve it with fresh lettuce and tomatoes.
Halal Cart Chicken
For halal cart-style chicken, you will need to marinate the boneless chicken thighs first. You can also use cutlets from chicken breasts if you prefer, although thighs tend to be tastier and juicier. The chicken marinade ingredients for the chicken include lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, paprika, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper. You can keep the chicken in the marinade for up to 24 hours and you want to at least leave it in there for 15 minutes to give it flavour.
To marinate the chicken, you can just mix everything nicely in a large bowl. Once you’re ready, you will preheat a large pan to medium high heat, drizzle with olive oil and cook the chicken pieces on both sides for about 4-5 minutes per side. You should have a lovely golden brown colour on both sides. The good news is that the chicken in this Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style is really great for meal prep. It goes great over rice, obviously, but also in salads and wraps. This is really one of the best chicken recipes I’ve made in a while.
Yellow Rice in Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style
As for the yellow rice recipe, you will cook basmati rice with turmeric and a bit of cumin. A little goes a long way in colour and flavour, as well. I cook the rice in water but if you have some nice chicken broth or chicken stock at hand, you can cook it in that as well for extra flavour. First, you will preheat a saucepan, add olive oil and the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. This helps the rice be nice and separate when serving. Then, you will add the water, salt and turmeric and stir over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, place the lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to a minimum. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes before serving your Chicken Over Rice.
The Famous White Sauce
There’s something inherently human about naming a sauce by its name because you’re not sure what’s in it! The famous tangy white sauce that you find in halal food carts isn’t all that complicated. It’s actually a Greek yogurt and garlic sauce that you can whip up in a second. The sauce ingredients include yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a bit of chopped parsley. The result is a creamy white sauce that goes incredible on the Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style.
How to Serve Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style
If you’re looking for the perfect way to serve your Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart Style, then look no further. You can do a rice bowl with the yellow rice and top it with the chicken, tomato, lettuce and white sauce. You should also serve it with a side of pita bread, which should be nice and toasty. If you’re not a bowl fan like me (I hate eating from bowls at home) you can opt for a flat dish, too. If you’re a fan of spicy food, you can also finish it with your choice of hot sauce (aka red sauce).
More chicken recipes
If you’re anything like me, chicken is a staple at home. It’s an easy-to-cook protein, it lends itself to all sorts of dishes and it’s relatively inexpensive. So if you’re looking for more chicken recipes, here are a few nice option I opten make at home:
Chicken Over Rice Halal Cart-Style
For the chicken
- 6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs or 6 chicken cutlets
- 2 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp paprika
- 3 tbsp olive oil plus more for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the yellow rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 2½ cups water
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 2½ tsp salt
For the white sauce
- 100 g Greek yogurt
- 50 g mayonnaise
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- Salt to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley
- 6 leaves iceberg lettuce finely sliced
- 200 g cherry tomatoes or large tomatoes cut
- 6 pita bread toasted or heated on a pan
- Hot sauce (red sauce) optional
For the chicken
- Mix the chicken with the rest of the ingredients until the marinade has been distributed evenly. Marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours. As the chicken marinates you can make the rice.
- Preheat a large pan to medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of olive oil and cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side or until fully cooked through. Avoid moving it around in the pan to allow a golden brown crust to form.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and slice for serving.
For the rice
- Preheat a medium saucepan to medium heat. Add the olive oil and rice and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add the water, salt, turmeric, cumin and stir to combine.
- As soon as the water comes to a boil, decrease the heat to low and cover it with a lid. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes or until fully cooked and no water remains at the base.
For the white sauce
- Mix all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the level of salt.
- Serve each dish with rice, chicken, lettuce, tomato, pita bread, the white sauce and some hot sauce if you like.