“When I lived in New York, the aromas wafting from the street cart vendors were a defining staple of the city. The alluring smell of spiced meat would lead you to one of the more ubiquitous street cart options: Halal-style chicken and rice. Each cart’s offering will vary slightly, but the fundamentals are constant: spiced and griddled chicken (or sometimes lamb) and turmeric-infused rice, topped with shredded lettuce and tomato slices and a lashing of white (creamy yoghurt) and red (spicy) sauces. It’s perfect for a cheap and cheerful feast, especially when you’re craving a dose of no-frills city living. Just as the dish is not unique to any one area of New York, nor are its recipe origins tied to one part of the world. It pulls inspiration from Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Caribbean and African dishes, combining to make a flavour-packed dish that is somehow both familiar and exciting.” — Caroline Gray, Easy Food editor
For the chicken:
½ a lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
1kg boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets
For the rice:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
350g basmati rice
850ml chicken stock
1 tsp salt
For the salad:
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 medium tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes), chopped
½ a small red onion, sliced
Salt and black pepper
For the white sauce:
200g natural full-fat yoghurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
For the hot sauce:
1 tbsp hot sauce of choice
1 tbsp harissa paste
Fresh coriander, chopped
Naan, pitta or flatbread of choice
- In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all of the marinade ingredients and the chicken. Seal the bag and squeeze everything to combine, then refrigerate for at least one hour, or ideally overnight.
- Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan or casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for eight minutes on one side — do not move the chicken around, as you want it to get a deep brown crust.
- Flip and cook for five minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. It’s OK if the chicken is not fully cooked through, as it will finish cooking later. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
- Use kitchen paper to wipe out the pan; it’s good to leave some of the browned bits in the pan, though. Heat the remaining oil and add the turmeric, cumin and rice. Stir to coat and toast for about a minute.
- Add the chicken stock and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. If your pan does not have a lid, cover the pan tightly with a double layer of foil. When cooked, the rice should be tender and all of the stock absorbed. Let the rice sit for five minutes off the heat, then scoop onto a large serving platter.
- While the rice is cooking, make the salad and sauces. Toss the lettuce, onion, and tomato in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Make the white sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Make the hot sauce by combining the hot sauce and the harissa in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Once you’ve scooped the rice onto a platter, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and add back to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes until fully cooked through. Spoon the chicken onto the rice.
- Drizzle with the white and red sauces, scatter over the coriander and serve with the salad and naan.