Halal Cart Style Chicken and Rice

There is nothing like living in New York City.  The variety of food options available at anytime of day are amazing. The only problem is when you are craving a certain type of food and live no where near the best place to get it. We have been craving chicken and rice from the Halal cart on 53rd and 6th.  This dish starts with chicken thighs that are marinated and seared on a hot grill. The chicken is then  served over a bed of cumin and turmeric flavored rice and topped a tangy white sauce that brings the whole dish together.  It is finished with freshly diced tomatoes, lettuce and warm pita bread.  The cart of 53rd and 6th is the best in the city, the only problem is that its popularity often causes the line to stretch down the block.

With the cart being far away we started scouring the internet to find a recipe. After looking for awhile we stumbled upon this recipe from Serious Eats which claimed to be a spot on rendition of what you can get at the cart.  We were a bit skeptical since comparing your recipe to the best cart in the city is a bold statement to make. Since we were craving Halal Chicken we decided to see if it compares.

We would like to dedicate this recipe to a friend of ours who is currently serving our country and is unable to get his beloved Halal Chicken.  Hopefully he see this recipe and will be able to make this if he has a chance giving him a little taste of home while he is away.

We will break down this recipe into three parts, the chicken, the rice and the sauce.

The Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Season the marinade to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and add half of the marinade (reserve the remaining marinade in the refrigerator).
  4. Turn the chicken to coat, seal the bag, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade 
  5. Remove the chicken from the bag and pat it dry with paper towels. Season with kosher salt and pepper, going heavy on the pepper.
  6. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat until it is lightly smoking.
  7. Add the chicken pieces and cook without disturbing until they are lightly browned on the first side, about 4 minutes.
  8. Using tongs, flip the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the center of each thigh registers 165°F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes longer.
  9. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Using a chef’s knife, roughly chop the chicken into 1/2- to 1/4-inch chunks.
  11. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the remaining marinade, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate while you cook the rice and prepare the sauce.

 

 

The Rice


Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain or Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to rest until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

 

The Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

 In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt.

 The Results:

We were proven wrong, you can get really good Halal Chicken and Rice at home.  This recipe really does come pretty close to replicating the Halal style Chicken and Rice at 53rd and 6th.  We all know that no matter how good it is, it woln't compare to getting it from the cart.  We totally agree with that statement, but we will say that if your craving this dish and can't get to the cart this is a great alternative.  

The marinade on the chicken is perfect and has the same spices used at the cart.  The key to the chicken is making sure to really brown each side helping to form a nice crust on the chicken.  Cooking the chicken a second time helps add extra flavor.

The rice was simple yet super flavorful.  Adding turmeric is how the rice gets that bright yellow color while the cumin adds the spice you can taste.  Using chicken stock also helps impart extra flavor into the rice.

In our opinion it is the sauce that brings this dish over the top.  To come close to tasting like the cart it was key to make sure the sauce was authentic.  It was perfect and fresh, it may have been even better than the one at the cart since we made it fresh that day.  The additions of Greek yogurt and fresh parsley really stand out in this sauce.  The lemon juice also adds a nice tang to finish it off.  

Everything mixed together with some fresh tomatoes, lettuce and pita bread makes this recipe a winner in our book and a should eat.  Thanks to Serious Eats for posting this recipe online!