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Cart-Style Chicken and Rice (Halal): A Delicious and Nutritious Meal

Cart-style chicken and rice

Chicken and rice are staples of many cuisines, but have you ever tried the mouthwatering combination of cart-style chicken and rice? This delectable street food dish has gained a cult following around the world, known for its unique flavors, convenience, and affordability. In this article, we’ll delve into the origins of cart-style chicken and rice, explore what makes it so special, and even learn how to make it at home. So grab your apron and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure!



Cart-style chicken and rice has a rich history that can be traced back to the bustling streets of New York City. It is believed to have been introduced by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean immigrants who brought their culinary traditions to the United States. These immigrants, hailing from countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine, brought with them their love for aromatic spices and flavorful dishes.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these immigrants settled in urban centers, particularly in New York City. They faced the challenge of adapting their traditional recipes to the available ingredients and the tastes of the new world they found themselves in. Out of this culinary fusion and the need to create affordable and convenient meals, cart-style chicken and rice was born.

Cart-style chicken and rice draws inspiration from the vibrant and diverse cuisines of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. These cuisines are known for their generous use of spices, herbs, and marinades, which create bold and complex flavors. The immigrants brought their knowledge of these traditional culinary techniques and adapted them to the local ingredients available in the United States.

The use of fragrant spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and paprika adds depth and warmth to the dish. The infusion of flavors from garlic, lemon, and olive oil adds a delightful tanginess and freshness. These elements, combined with the grilling and steaming techniques, result in tender and succulent chicken that is bursting with flavor.


StepTime Required
Marinating the chicken30 minutes
Preparing the rice20 minutes
Grilling the chicken15 minutes
Steaming the chicken10 minutes
Preparing the sauce10 minutes
Assembling the dish5 minutes
Total Cooking Time90 minutes

Please note that the total cooking time provided is an estimate and may vary depending on individual cooking skills and equipment used.


Chicken thighs2
Basmati rice1 cup
Olive oil2 tablespoons
Lemon juice2 tablespoons
Garlic cloves2
Cumin powder1 teaspoon
Coriander powder1 teaspoon
Paprika1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric1/2 teaspoon
Salt1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper1/4 teaspoon
Chicken broth1 cup
Lettuce1 cup, shredded
Tomato1, diced
Pickles1/4 cup, sliced
Yogurt1/4 cup
Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley or mint)For garnish
Optional condiments (hot sauce, tahini sauce)As desired

Please note that the quantities mentioned above are approximate and can be adjusted according to personal preferences.


Step 1: Marinating the Chicken

  • In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, cumin powder, coriander powder, paprika, turmeric, salt, and black pepper.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring each piece is well coated.
  • Cover the dish or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Step 2: Preparing the Rice

  • Rinse the basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
  • In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of chicken broth to a boil.
  • Add the rinsed rice to the boiling broth.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let the rice simmer for about 20 minutes or until it is cooked and the liquid is absorbed.
  • Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and set it aside.

Step 3: Grilling the Chicken

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
  • Place the chicken thighs on the grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes on each side or until they are cooked through and have a nice char.
  • Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes.

Step 4: Steaming the Chicken

  • Transfer the grilled chicken thighs to a steamer basket or a plate that fits inside a steamer.
  • Fill a pot or steamer with a small amount of water and bring it to a boil.
  • Place the steamer basket or plate with the chicken on top of the pot or steamer.
  • Cover the pot or steamer and let the chicken steam for about 10 minutes. This will help to further tenderize and infuse the flavors into the meat.

Step 5: Preparing the Sauce

  • In a small bowl, combine yogurt, minced garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
  • Stir well until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Step 6: Assembling the Dish

  • Slice the steamed chicken into thin strips or bite-sized pieces.
  • Divide the cooked rice between two serving plates.
  • Arrange the sliced chicken on top of the rice.
  • Add shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and pickles as desired.
  • Drizzle the yogurt sauce over the chicken and rice.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs, such as parsley or mint.
  • Serve the cart-style chicken and rice while it’s still warm, optionally accompanied by additional condiments like hot sauce or tahini sauce.

Enjoy the delightful flavors of this cart-style chicken and rice dish, rich in spices, textures, and cultural influences!

Equipment Required

Nutrition Information

Nutritional InformationAmount per Serving
Serving Size1 plate (approx. 2 servings)
Total Fat16g
– Saturated Fat3g
Total Carbohydrate47g
– Dietary Fiber2g
– Sugars2g

Please note that the nutritional information provided is an estimate and can vary based on the specific ingredients used and any additional condiments or variations in preparation.


  • Marinate for Longer: For even more flavorful chicken, marinate it for an extended period, such as overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the spices and marinade to penetrate the meat further.
  • Use a Grill Pan: If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, you can use a grill pan on the stovetop to achieve a similar charred effect and smoky flavor.
  • Rest the Chicken: Let the grilled chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This helps retain its juices and ensures a more tender and succulent result.
  • Customize the Spice Level: Adjust the amount of spices and seasonings according to your preference. If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of spices, or if you like it spicier, add a touch of chili powder or cayenne pepper.
  • Add Vegetables: Enhance the nutritional value and texture of the dish by adding grilled or roasted vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, or onions. These additions complement the flavors of the chicken and rice.
  • Experiment with Garnishes: Get creative with the garnishes. Consider adding sliced cucumbers, chopped olives, or a sprinkle of toasted nuts for added crunch and flavor.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: To make the dish gluten-free, ensure that the chicken broth used in the recipe is gluten-free. Also, double-check that any condiments or sauces you use are labeled gluten-free.
  • Substitute the Chicken: If you prefer a different protein, you can substitute the chicken thighs with boneless chicken breasts, shrimp, or even tofu for a vegetarian option. Adjust the cooking times accordingly.
  • Make it Vegan: To make a vegan version, omit the chicken and replace it with grilled vegetables or plant-based protein alternatives like seitan or tempeh. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and substitute dairy-free yogurt for the sauce.
  • Prep Ahead: Prepare the marinade and sauce in advance to save time on the day of cooking. Marinate the chicken overnight or in the morning, and store the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pros & Cons

✅ Convenient and quick meal option❌ Requires marinating time
✅ Bursting with flavorful spices❌ May require grilling equipment
✅ Versatile – can be customized❌ Not suitable for those with dietary restrictions or preferences
✅ Affordable ingredients❌ Cooking time can be longer
✅ Provides a complete and satisfying meal❌ May require some skill in grilling techniques

Please note that the pros and cons mentioned are subjective and may vary based on individual preferences and circumstances.


Cart-style chicken and rice (Halal) is a delightful and flavorful dish that brings together the rich culinary traditions of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. With its aromatic spices, tender grilled chicken, and fragrant rice, it offers a mouthwatering combination that is sure to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re a fan of street food or simply looking for a convenient and delicious meal, this recipe has much to offer.

The unique blend of flavors and the cultural significance of cart-style chicken and rice make it a must-try dish. It provides a glimpse into the diverse and vibrant world of street food, where different culinary traditions come together to create something truly special.

By following the step-by-step directions and incorporating the tips and tricks provided, you can successfully recreate this iconic dish in your own kitchen. Whether you’re enjoying it as a quick weeknight meal or impressing guests at a dinner party, cart-style chicken and rice is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

So, why not embark on a culinary adventure and experience the deliciousness of cart-style chicken and rice? Gather the ingredients, fire up the grill, and let the enticing aroma fill your kitchen. Discover the joy of savoring each bite of tender chicken, fragrant rice, and flavorful sauce. Whether you’re a fan of bold spices or simply looking to explore new flavors, this recipe offers a delightful journey for your taste buds.

Don’t hesitate to give it a try and share this delightful dish with your loved ones. Get ready to indulge in the cultural fusion and culinary delight that is cart-style chicken and rice. Bon appétit!


  • Fact 1: 🌍 A Global Street Food Sensation
    • Did you know that cart-style chicken and rice has taken the world by storm? From the bustling streets of New York City to the vibrant food markets of London and the bustling lanes of Mumbai, this flavorful dish has gained popularity in various corners of the globe. It has become a symbol of the diverse and delicious street food culture that transcends borders.
  • Fact 2: 🚚 The Rise of Halal Food Carts
    • Halal food carts, serving dishes prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary laws, have played a significant role in the popularity of cart-style chicken and rice. These carts cater to individuals seeking Halal-certified meals, making the dish accessible to a wider audience. The rise of Halal food carts has added a new dimension to the street food scene and highlights the importance of inclusivity and diversity in culinary experiences.
  • Fact 3: 🔥 A Fiery Fusion of Flavors
    • Cart-style chicken and rice brings together a fusion of flavors from various culinary traditions. It harmoniously blends Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences, creating a tantalizing mix of aromatic spices, tangy sauces, and smoky grilled chicken. The combination of cumin, coriander, and turmeric adds warmth, while lemon and garlic infuse brightness and depth, resulting in a culinary symphony for the taste buds.
  • Fact 4: 💃 A Dance of Grilling and Steaming
    • One of the secrets behind the succulent and flavorful chicken in cart-style chicken and rice lies in the cooking technique. The chicken is first grilled to perfection, imparting a smoky and charred flavor. Then, it is steamed, allowing the meat to become incredibly tender and juicy. This dual cooking method creates a delightful dance of flavors and textures, making each bite a truly enjoyable experience.
  • Fact 5: 🌶️ Endless Possibilities for Customization
    • Cart-style chicken and rice is a versatile dish that invites culinary creativity. While the traditional recipe is delicious on its own, there are endless possibilities for customization. From adjusting the spice levels to adding your favorite grilled vegetables or experimenting with different garnishes, you have the freedom to make it your own. Let your imagination run wild and create a unique rendition that suits your personal taste preferences.


Can I use boneless chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs?

Yes, you can substitute boneless chicken breasts for chicken thighs. Keep in mind that chicken breasts may cook slightly faster, so adjust the grilling and steaming times accordingly to ensure they are cooked through.

Can I use brown rice instead of basmati rice?

While basmati rice is commonly used for its fragrant and fluffy texture, you can use brown rice as a healthier alternative. Note that brown rice may require a longer cooking time and more liquid to fully cook.

Can I make the recipe vegetarian or vegan?

Absolutely! To make the recipe vegetarian, you can substitute the chicken with grilled vegetables or plant-based protein alternatives like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. For a vegan version, ensure that any condiments or sauces used are dairy-free and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

How long can I marinate the chicken?

For optimal flavor, marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. If time permits, marinating it overnight in the refrigerator can intensify the flavors even more.

Can I cook the chicken entirely on the grill without steaming it?

While steaming after grilling helps ensure the chicken is tender and juicy, you can skip the steaming step if desired. However, keep in mind that steaming contributes to the final texture and flavor of the dish.

Can I use store-bought marinade instead of making my own?

Yes, you can use store-bought marinades if you prefer. Look for marinades that complement the flavors of the dish or experiment with different options to find your favorite.

Are there any alternatives to grilling the chicken?

If you don’t have access to a grill, you can use a grill pan on the stovetop or even bake the chicken in the oven. Adjust the cooking times and methods accordingly to achieve a similar charred and flavorful result.

Can I prepare the dish ahead of time?

While the dish is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the components in advance. Grill and steam the chicken, cook the rice, and prepare the sauce separately. When ready to serve, reheat the chicken and rice, assemble the dish, and drizzle with fresh sauce.

Can I freeze the leftovers?

Yes, you can freeze any leftover cooked chicken and rice in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat them properly before consuming.

Can I adjust the spice levels to make it milder or spicier?

Absolutely! The spice levels can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences. Decrease the amount of spices for a milder flavor or increase them or add chili powder for a spicier kick. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect balance of spices for your palate.