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Halal Chicken and Rice Vendor Recipes? [Moved from Manhattan board]

So everytime im im Manhattan, I try the delicious chicken and rice from as many different halal vendors as I can to see If i can really grasp the flavor of everything to reenact it when I am at home here in Florida and not in close distance to a chicken and rice vendor or some type of food near that.

That being said, what ive come up with for the chicken is using boneless. skinless breasts and grill them over a charcoal grill with a dry rub of coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper and coat them with a little canola prior to throwing them on the grill...im stuck there, i dont know what else I could put on it to complete the flavor to a more chicken and rice-esque flavor...any help there?

The white sauce, told to me directly by one the guys working at the 53rd and 6th vendor he said was something along the lines of ricotta cheese, sour cream, tahini paste, and mayo. Sort of seems like they just combined everything white and creamy they could think of, but I have yet to try that combo, any suggestions or comments concerning that?

As for the red sauce, I just use the "Chili Garlic Sauce" (the small 8 oz. jar with the infamous green cap), and it works as a great substitute for whatever they use, which i have yet to find out...dont need too much help with that, the chili garlic sauce works fine.

Lastly, for the rice, I use indian Basmati loose rice, and flavor it with turmeric (to give it that trademark yellow color), cumin, indian chili powder, and salt, but still tastes like its missing something, but for the most part its serves as a legitimate sub, but i could still use some pointers....any help with that?

Feel free to post any other comments or variations youve used to recreate chicken and rice or if you've ever inquired as to what ingredients they use at any of the vendors...

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    1. re: ruckus_bringer

      I am not familiar with the halaal vendors of Manhattan. Based on your post, you mean some Arabic street food plate of chicken rice? I thought you meant Halaal Hainanese chicken and rice like one would get in Singapore/Malaysia. If you can tell me the national origin, I could probably give you an idea on the recipe.

      I am based in the Middle East and well travelled in the region...I have seen vendors of many types of food but never specifically chicken and rice on a plate with some sauce. It could be some adaptation to sell in the US.

    2. I would think they either marinate the chicken in saffron or with turmeric to give it that yellow color. I would also guess yogurt, crushed garlic, maybe paprika, along with the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Throw in some onions and carrots. I'm trying it tonight. I'll tell you how it turns. Whenever I've asked one of the vendors about it, I never get a straight answer. Or just something elusive. They probably don't want to reveal their recipes. Try the vendor on 8th ave and 57th. They are awesome and have the best hot sauce and marinated chicken I have tried anywhere.

      1. I'm just trying to figure out a good recipe now. As for the rice, I think clove might be what you're missing...Seems to be a staple with many of the best carts.

        1. Use dark meat chicken, like boneless skinless thighs. That is a critical piece of the flavor--the taste of the meat. Breasts taste like nothing. Just like egg whites taste like nothing, and certainly not like eggs.

          1. I know this post is a little late, but for anyone else looking for a recipe for chicken and rice similar to that of the NYC street vendors, here is the recipe I came up with. I think you'll be hard pressed to find the difference between this version and the one of the streets.

            6 chicken thighs, preferably boneless (bone-in is fine too), fat trimmed
            3/4 tsp turmeric
            2 tsp ground cumin
            1/2 tsp ground coriander
            1/4 tsp ground cloves
            6 garlic cloves, crushed/chopped
            3/4 tsp crushed ginger
            2 Tbsp lemon juice
            1/2 cup greek-style yogurt
            sea salt
            freshly ground black pepper
            3 Tbsp olive oil
            I large onion sliced or quartered

            Put all ingredient together and 1 tablespoon of olive. Generously salt and pepper (remember those guys use a ton of black pepper). Let marinate overnight. Don't add extra turmeric for coloring, because it does have a rather strong flavor. If you'd like a yellower color, use food coloring (and those guys definitely are not using saffron). Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a hot skillet. Make sure you skillet is pretty hot when you add the chicken and onion mixture. As you cook the chicken, you should press the chicken against the skillet with a metal spatula. As the chicken becomes done, break it up with your spatula. Enjoy!

            6 Replies
            1. re: kookiecutter

              I grew up in North Jersey (live in FL now) but never had the luck to experience this halal chicken in NYC...in your recipe, do you just put the cooked chicken and onions over cooked white rice?

              1. re: kookiecutter

                I could be wrong, but I could swear that i taste a hint of cinnamon.

                1. re: kookiecutter

                  I been trying to find a authentic tasting recipe for a few years and yours is the closest that comes to the cart that I used to eat lunch at. Wall St & Water St.
                  -----------------------------------
                  I got a yellow rice recipe off the food network site

                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

                  * 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
                  * 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
                  * Pinch cinnamon
                  * 3 cups water
                  * 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
                  * 1/2 teaspoon salt
                  * 1 1/2 cups long grain or basmati rice
                  * 2 tablespoons sliced scallions

                  Directions

                  In a medium saucepan, heat the turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon over low heat until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the water, salt, and butter and bring to a boil. Add the rice and stir well. Cover and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook, covered, without stirring until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

                  Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add scallions, and serve.
                  -----------------------------------------
                  and I found the white sauce recipe off another site I am providing the link but I will copy the whole recipe

                  http://www.nibbledish.com/people/rast...

                  White Sauce recipe

                  * 1/2 cup mayonnaise
                  * 1/4 cup water
                  * 1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish ( I couldn't find horseradish so I used Japanese Wasabi Sauce)
                  * 1/2 teaspoon salt
                  * 1/4 teaspoon black pepper ( * 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( or a little cayenne hot sauce)
                  * 1 teapoon sugar (if its too tart/tangy)
                  * 1 teaspoon lemon juice
                  * 2 tablespoons vinegar
                  Enjoy
                  -----------------------

                  Thanks this has made my day

                  1. re: njpartyphoto

                    I can't wait to try this! Any hot sauce recipes or ideas of what they use?

                    1. re: njpartyphoto

                      Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for the recipes. I've had intense cravings and there's nothing close in the area. I finally made this and found it to be close enough to make do until I can visit NYC again. Some notes: I cup the rice down and needed to cut the time down (1 cup was done in 14 minutes), white sauce was a bit thin so save adding the water until last, just used sambal oelek for hot sauce. I used a whole chicken which you should chop into small equal sized pieces before marinating. Next time I'm going to make more of a Tzatziki sauce but keep the mayo.

                       
                      1. re: amokscience

                        I dont know this to be 100% but i goto the same halal cart for lunch at least three times a week for a few years now. Several times i've been there, there have been vegans in line with me who ask if the white sauce is made with mayo because they cant have it if it does. And each time the guys tell them there is no mayo in it and its made with yogurt. Again i dont know this to be fact only what i've heard.

                  2. For those interested, Serious Eats has a recipe for halal cart style chicken and rice: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20.... There's also another good recipe for it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwOXwX...

                    I've tried both recipes and found them to be tasty. I use a combination of both tweaked a bit to my own liking. A few tips and observations based on my experimentation:

                    - The spices used on the chicken vary from one vendor to another. Some may use more Indian type spices others may use Middle Eastern spices.
                    - The oregano in the Serious Eats recipe, while good, is probably not authentic
                    - Greek yogurt mixed with a little mayo, vinegar, and lemon juice and allowed to sit for half an hour comes close to the white sauce that they use. The cart guys probably use a lot more mayo since it's cheaper.
                    - If you're using basmati soak the rice in water for 20-60 mins. To avoid mushy rice, saute the rice in some oil or butter before adding the water and use less water. I find a ratio of 1:1.25 rice to liquid works well. The less liquid the better. Jasmine rice works too.
                    - Sambal hot sauce or harissa works very nicely.
                    - Saute the rice with some whole spices for extra flavor. I use clove, small piece of cinnamon, and a small bay leaf.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Chi_Guy

                      I love the Serious Eats recipe! I made my own Harissa style hot sauce to go with it. Delicious!

                      1. re: Chi_Guy

                        The Serious Eats recipe doesn't quite nail the cart-style chicken, though the oregano is an addition that actually brings the flavor closer to the meat from my favorite cart. I'm still working on finding the perfect recipe hack.

                      2. I was in the city yesterday, and since it was past 2PM and we hadn't had a chance for lunch, we got lunch from the halal food oart on 71st Street and 1st Avenue. My son got two shish kababs, and I got the chicken and rice. Once we spoke a little Egyptian Arabic to him, he loaded up my container with extras like felafel and fried potatoes. I had given my son a $20 and gone to get the car. My son said that the total was $22 (including two large (20 fl oz) bottles of Diet Coke), but that guy said he was fine with the twenty. It sounded like a lot to me, but is that the going price now for 2 shish kababs (with pitas) and the chicken and rice plus the 2 sodas? Did we get ripped off?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: roxlet

                          2 shish kababs : $4 - $6
                          Chicken and rice: $5 - $7
                          2 sodas: $2 - $4

                          Looks like he charged you for the falafel and potatoes, habibi.