Although this recipe does take some time to prepare, it is well worth the effort! Much of the prep for this Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Yogurt Sauce can be done a day ahead of time, including cooking the rice and making the sauce – so when you are ready to eat, all you’ll need to do is grill the chicken, reheat the rice, and assemble your plate.
2½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1½ cups full-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon finely ground fresh garlic
Zest of one lemon (but not the juice), see note below*
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
White Yogurt Sauce
2 small mini cucumbers
2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely ground fresh garlic
½ teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Jasmine rice
1 teaspoon ground curry powder
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1½ cups homemade chicken stock
Kosher salt to taste
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Fresh tomatoes, diced or cut into wedges
Harissa sauce, jarred or see our homemade recipe here
4 tablespoons olive oil, to cook chicken
Remove all visible fat from thighs and cut into one-inch pieces.
In a large bowl, mix all marinade ingredients and add chicken and stir with a wooden spoon or tongs to make sure all pieces are covered.
Spoon into a gallon zip lock bag and marinate overnight up to 24 hours.
The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Grate the cucumbers on the large holes on a box grater and squeeze out all liquid and discard the liquid. You should be left with ½ cup of cuccumber. Add this to a food processor along with all other sauce ingredients and blend until the cucumber pieces are finely incorporated into the sauce. Refrigerate until needed.
If you are following our Harissa recipe, make that now or use store bought.
The following day, about 45 minutes before serving, cook the rice and chicken.
In a medium sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid, add olive oil and heat to medium heat. Add rice and cook for five minutes stirring often with a wooden spoon. Add spices and cook one minute then carefully add stock. (Mixture will bubble up so be careful). Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to low and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for five minutes then fluff with a fork.
While rice is cooking, in a large heavy bottomed skillet with high sides, heat one tablespoon of oil over high heat. Remove marinating chicken to a bowl to make it easier to use and cook one quarter of the chicken by placing one piece at a time into the hot oil and cook for a minute or two on each side, keeping marinade stuck onto the chicken (do not rinse off). Do not crowd pan or they will steam and not brown.
As each batch is done, start another batch with additional oil and chicken until all of the chicken is cooked. I had to stop half way through to wipe the pan clean of burned bits.
To serve, in a traditional aluminum to-go container or on a dinner plate, partition cooked chicken, cooked rice, lettuce and tomato and pita bread. Drizzle the white sauce over the chicken, lettuce and tomato and drizzle the Harissa over the chicken and the rice.
*The chicken needs to marinate overnight. Do not put any acid such as lemon juice in the marinade or the chicken will be mushy and opaque when cooked. (If using lemon juice, the longest you should marinate any meat is three hours.) Using yogurt instead of lemon juice allows the mixture to sit for 24 hours and really absorb all of the spice flavors.