Halal Cart Chicken and Rice (Copycat)

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Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.Halal Cart Chicken and Rice is a hugely popular dish in New York City. Along populated corners you can walk past and smell the amazing warm spices of the chicken and rice and find yourself standing in the long lines before you even realize what happened.

The Halal Guys are as much a reason to visit the city as any other food you’ve decided to put on your short list during a visit. This Halal Cart Chicken and Rice is served up to a long line of fans for good reason. The seasonings are bold and delicious, crispy cooked chicken and seasoned rice.

I mixed up the sauce a bit adding Sriracha and when it came time to dinner, there was a long period of silence as we all stuffed our faces as quickly as we could! This dish is fantastic and isn’t too spicy for even the youngsters to enjoy (minus the sauce).

Give it a shot, it may seem intimidating because of the number of ingredients, but it is really just a slightly long list of really easy steps and the end results more than makes up for it!

This Halal Cart Chicken and Rice comes from one of my favorite sources for dinner inspiration and kitchen wizardry, the Serious Eats Food Lab rock star Kenji.

If he gives you advice you know it is because he has tried it 15 different ways to find the best one. You can go into the recipe and know, with no hesitation, you are in for some really delicious food. He hasn’t let me down yet and I’ve been making his recipes for years.  They do normally have a few more steps than most, but look at what it gets you…

Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food. To marinade the chicken: Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag. Marinade for 3-4 hours.
Take out of the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Cook on medium-high in a pan, skin side down for 4-5 minutes, or until well browned. Turn over and cook for another 4-5 minutes until cooked completely through. Let the chicken cool for 5-10 minutes, then chop into rough chunks.
For the rice: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven then add the spices.Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Cook until you can smell them, stirring into the butter. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.Add the rice and stir to coat. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Cook, stirring frequently for 4 minutes until the rice is toasted. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Add the chicken broth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from the heat and rest without opening the lid for 15 minutes. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Once fluffed you can use it as the base to the meal and top with chopped chicken. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.To make the sauce: Combine yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper and Sriracha and let sit for an hour in the fridge. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Dinner then Dessert TIPSNote from Kenji: “Do not marinate the chicken longer than 4 hours or it’ll get a mushy texture. If you must delay cooking the chicken for any reason, remove it from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels, and refrigerate until ready to cook.”

You can also serve the chicken without chopping and it is still a gorgeous meal. Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

Tools used in the making of Halal Cart Chicken and Rice:
Pig Tail Flipper – I use this *almost* more than I use tongs in the kitchen. Flipping is so quick and doesn’t smash foods.
Extra Long Grain Rice – You can use regular rice, but the dish is extra special with either extra long grain rice or Basmati rice.
Dutch Oven – Back around the time of our wedding All-Clad had this amazing gift with purchases and we ended up with THREE of these. I use them for almost everything and sometimes even all three at once.
Turmeric – Not a spice that gets a lot of use in every day cooking, this is really the secret in the dish along with the coriander.
Spice Rack – I listed the spices above as a reference point for what turmeric and what coriander are, but I buy spices in bulk from local grocers and from Penzey’s. It’s less expensive and significantly higher quality than buying the jars individually but I ended up being left with tons of little bags of spices. Enter the spice rack. Everything is clean and organized and I love it so much it is actually going to be in the Holiday gift roundup coming up next month! I <3 this spice rack that AllSpice sent me. 🙂

Recipe

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Halal Cart Chicken and Rice (Copycat)

  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Course: Main
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Author: Dinner, then Dessert
Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

Ingredients

  • For the chicken:
  • 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
  • For the rice:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups extra long-grain or Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. To marinade the chicken: Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender until smooth.
  2. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag.
  4. Marinade for 3-4 hours.
  5. Take out of the bag and pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Cook on medium-high in a pan, skin side down for 4-5 minutes, or until well browned.
  7. Turn over and cook for another 4-5 minutes until cooked completely through.
  8. Let the chicken cool for 5-10 minutes, then chop into rough chunks.
  9. For the rice: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven then add the spices and cook until you can smell them, stirring into the butter.
  10. Add the rice and stir to coat.
  11. Cook, stirring frequently for 4 minutes until the rice is toasted.
  12. Add the chicken broth and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  13. Bring mixture to a boil.
  14. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.
  15. Remove from the heat and rest without opening the lid for 15 minutes.
  16. To make the sauce: Combine yogurt and Sriracha and let sit for an hour in the fridge.
  17. Note from Kenji: "Do not marinate the chicken longer than 4 hours or it’ll get a mushy texture. If you must delay cooking the chicken for any reason, remove it from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels, and refrigerate until ready to cook."

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Kenji Alt's Halal Chicken on Serious Eats
3.5.3208

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 servings, Amount per serving: calories

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert, Inc.

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Halal Cart's Middle Eastern Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Halal Cart's Middle Eastern Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

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Comments

    1. Yes! I give clients a lot of extra baked goodies too! Spread the food around or we would all weigh twice as much haha.

  1. Oh my gosh… this looks YUMMY! It’s one we need to keep on hand for sure. (PS- I don’t think the list of ingredients is actually too bad for an amazing meal like this. Luckily I have most of it in my pantry already!)

    1. I had all of them on hand, but most of my friends and family think my pantry is a grocery store so I never know what amount is normal to assume people have!

  2. That looks amazing! I am a huge fan of middle eastern foods, although I rarely cook them. I’ve always thought they would be too time consuming. I’m making this one anyway. 🙂

  3. That looks and sounds amazing. I know my family would love it but I think I would do this for date night, so just my hubby and I could indulge.

  4. Eep – siracha! I can’t take the heat! My husband and my mom would like this spice-rich dish.

    1. Ooh but the yogurt completely tempers the heat. You can also leave it out of the sauce if you would like 🙂

  5. Another fantastic chicken recipe idea to make for the family! Thanks for sharing something that can help increase our taste buds to new flavors and options!

  6. This Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice sounds wonderful. I used to live in New York City, years ago, and loved ordering these types of dishes from the food trucks there, and would love to try making this at home now!

  7. Mmmm I love Middle Eastern food and often feel like small carts have some of the best eats. That Sriracha yogurt sauce is a must try as well.

    1. Yes! Agreed! Oh and the yogurt sauce is a favorite of ours on so many foods including tacos! I add sriracha to a lot of things, haha.

    1. Oh I would LOVE to cook this for you! Introducing someone to Middle Eastern flavors sounds like so much fun!

  8. My husband just bought some chicken when he was grocery shopping… wondering if I could get him to make this if I tape your recipe to the stove? Looks delicious!

    1. This is one of the few rice recipes I make with white rice, but I think brown rice would work wonderfully here too. Just with a longer cooking time of course.

  9. This looks so delicious. I will have to try making this on the weekend. I am sure my family will love it.

  10. This meal looks amazing and even better that I can get it without the travel and long lines. I have always been nervous about starting my rice off like that. I always try to season last.

  11. Do you think it would be just as good with chicken breast? It looks so tasty, but my husband is not a fan of dark meat.

    1. YES!! I’ve made it with white meat too! Score the chicken breast into deep x marks and rub the marinade in. cook on high heat until crispy and just cooked through! It is delicious! The x marks let more of the chicken breast get the flavor and crisp up.

  12. Chicken and rice is a pretty common meal around here. Trouble is it can be boring if you let it. This looks like it has so much flavor!

  13. I never had thought about toasting the rice before boiling it. I’ll have to try that. I’ve had some of those meals from NYC trucks and they are pretty tasty.

  14. Now that looks amazing, I’m thinking about trying this for dinner this week. I really need to switch it up.

  15. I just discovered your blog and I love it so far! Question: do you think this would mix well with your crispy slow-cooker chicken from May? THAT recipe sounded so awesome, and in the post you mention that “It is perfect for using it in any other recipe that calls for spiced chicken as well. Just add the required spices to the bottom of the slow cooker, then on top as well. No need to toss it with the chicken.” Not that I’m holding you to that–far from!–but I’m willing to make the experiment if you think it could work. I might go ahead and marinate, and THEN dry-cook in the slow cooker–what do you think? Or would it be better to throw the spices on the bottom and dry-cook it that way? (That way would certainly be the easiest!)

    I know it wouldn’t necessarily be a time saver, but it WOULD be something I could fix and forget until it was done–and in my house, that’s a winner.

    1. Oh my goodness, yes! I may rub it in only because It takes just a second and there are different spices but the chicken will naturally let go of oil and its juices so you’re going to have a spice bath at the end and because of that it is probably totally unnecessary but since it just takes a second why not, haha.

      Just make sure to keep the chicken on a single layer, if you stack them on top of each other the accumulated liquids will cover most of your chicken. The skin layer should never have liquid covering it, thats how you get that portion crispy so be generous with the spacing. 🙂

      Hope that helps! And thanks for visiting the blog, I am so excited you’re enjoying it!

  16. Hi Sabrina! Just found your wonderful blog and am looking forward to making your recipes this week. Question: I was hoping you’d have some Shish Kabob or other kabob recipes available to us. I live close to Glendale, CA and enjoy going out to eat kabobs but they get expensive. Hope you share one (or many!) kabob and other armenian recipes with us!

    1. Yes! I actually had planned on making some in the next month or so. I grew up eating them probably once a week, so they are a family tradition!

      1. Thank you in advance for posting your kabob recipe. I’d like to make these for my family for Passover dinner in April. I don’t know about your family but many people now have food allergies (gluten, lactose intolerant, etc.) that making something delicious yet non-allergic will be much appreciated by my family. Plus I won’t have to make 3 unique entrees!

    1. You could try harissa, or maybe a hint of cayenne. Even a tapatia would complement the flavors well. I hope you enjoy it!

  17. Made this today, it was delicious!! I am not a natural cook (I can only read a recipe and follow instructions exactly as written) but this was super easy to make, thanks!

  18. Hi! This looks delicious. I am adding it to my meal pan and making my grocery list now. Are those chopped tomatoes I see in the pic? Do you add those for garnish?

    1. Yes, just for garnish, thats how it is served at the Halal cart. Adds a nice fresh flavor. I also added some shredded iceberg lettuce.

    1. Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! Since this rice is added to the butter before the liquid is added in I wouldn’t bother. Would love to know how your recipe turned out though since I was clearly way too late getting back to you. 🙁

  19. Hello! I just wanted to say that I made this for dinner tonight, but instead of using chicken I used Gardein meatless chicken strips. I brushed your chicken marinade over the top of the strips as they baked, to give them that flavor, and coarse chopped them like real chicken. (I didn’t have any chicken on hand but I had that and wanted to make it work haha) The rest of the recipe I followed exactly as written. I just wanted to share! I love this recipe! 🙂

  20. OMG THIS IS SOOOOOO GOING ON MY TO DO LIST!!!! I will have the rice!! Hubs can have the chicken! And you know I’m thinking this will do damn good for dinner! Love it! I can see you are using the new camera huh 🙂 Love this SOOOO SOOO much!

  21. Although we live in DC, I’ve never heard of this bender/dish ever before! However, the way you presented is just awesome and I had to try it! All my kids who are little picky in some ways, LOVED it!!!!!! The marinade, the sauce, and the rice… All in one plate, just SOOOO delicious!!! And the most I admire you about is you make everything SO easy!!!! We’ll make it again for sure and thank you so much for sharing this recipe <3 <3 <3

  22. Can you cook the chicken in the dutch oven and then cook the rice? Or does it have to be in separate pans. Also, is a dutch oven necessary to cook to the rice?

  23. I just made this and it was good. I am allergic to garlic so left that out, garlic would obviously be better. I replaced the garlic (in white sauce) with oregano and dill for extra flavor. Next time, I will make a whole spatchcock chicken with these flavors. I added Deepak Chopra’s dosha spice (VATA) to the chicken and rice for extra flavor and body, mind, soul balance.

  24. Hello! Your recipe calls for skinless, boneless chicken thighs but the directions say to cook the chicken skin down. Which is it please? This looks so good I’d like to try to make it tonight.

    1. Sorry about that, depending on how I am serving it I do boneless or not. When served whole thighs I leave skin on for a moister roasting. When I am cutting it into chunks and browning the chunks in the pan I don’t bother with skin. I hope you enjoy the recipe, sorry for the confusion and for the delay in responding, the comment got snared in the spam filter.

  25. I rarely ever leave comments on recipes that I try but OMG. This recipe is spot on. Absolutely delicious. I didn’t have fresh oregano so I used 1 tablespoon of dried oregano but everything else I followed to a T. I am so glad that I can make this delicious meal at home now. Super simple and crazy good. Thanks for sharing! The website isn’t let me give it any stars but if I could I would give it 10!

  26. I came across this recipe maybe eight weeks ago and it’s been in heavy rotation at our house every since so thank you! It’s really delicious — only substitutions I make are dried oregano for fresh, and I grill vs saute the chicken. Sometimes we do a little feta or cucumber garnish, too. The sauce is fantastic.

  27. My teens barely left any leftovers. It seems like a lot of ingredients but it’s easy. It will be one of my go to to recipes! Thank you!!!

  28. I am making this tonight for supper and excited to try it! I love trying new ethnic foods and since we recently discovered some Jewish ancestry in our family I love the idea of trying some Middle Eastern food! Just wondering what veggies would be good with this? I was thinking of just roasting some or adding some to the rice. What do you think?

  29. i tried the recipe out my family love it! i made a few minor changes like, adding chilli powder into the marinade and i made my own sauce out of roaste red peper+sesoning+ hot sauce+caramalised onion+lemon juice+tomato paste and mayo. 🙂 Thanks again, i’ll continue making this in the future.

  30. I made this tonight…it was amazing! I didn’t have time to stand over the stove, so I cheated and threw the chicken under the broiler, but other than that I stuck to the recipe. It was still great. I could enjoy the smell of that rice cooking over and over again. I love Middle Eastern food, but I’m always at a loss for what sides to cook. Any recommendations?

  31. Just made this – it was amazing! This is now added to our meal plan 🙂 I’ve never made middle eastern food before and was surprised at how well the flavours developed. The only thing I did differently was add a spritz of lemon after plating.

  32. The dish was delicious and so easy to make. The “hard” part was marinating the chicken ahead of time. My only addition to the recipe would be to increase the amount of turmeric and cumin used for the rice. The flavor was a tad subtle for me, and the color not as vibrant a yellow as other basmati rice I’ve had. Overall though, this was a great dish that I’ll be adding to our rotation of recipes. Highly recommended and grateful for having found it! 

  33. Sorry didn’t quite do it for me. Chicken pleasant enough, rice needed a bit more ie nuts fruit spice and yogurt dip needed an extra dimension. No idea what a halal cart is

  34. I’ve made this recipe 3x in the last 2 weeks and it has been requested by both my daughter and my husband for dinner again tonight. This is easy to make and incredibly good, and just “different” enough to allow us to have chicken 2x a week w/o everyone getting bored.

    It’s super hot right now, so I do the whole thing in the instant pot. I make the rice first and while that’s cooking I prepare the sauce. When the rice is done, I wipe out the pot and cook up the chicken, which I pre-cut into bite-size pieces when raw (before marinating) just to make it easier.

    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  35. Delicious! I made this for dinner yesterday using just one tablespoon of Sriracha. It had a nice level of heat without being too spicy for my family. This recipe will be a repeat on upcoming menus. Thanks for sharing!

  36. I’ve never eaten at Halal Cart. I was hoping to copycat a Lebanese place where my parents live, but this wasn’t even close. The chicken was pretty bland, but the rice was great!

  37. Delicious chicken (added a dash of cumin) and rice!! Chopped up some onion, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes to top it off. Used the yogurt sauce and zhoug sauce from Trader Joe’s. Just as satisfying as HG made healthier!!