What’s Inside Your Food?

What’s Inside Your Food?

Ever wondered what ingredients really go inside your halal cart food?

The meat used by some of the halal cart cooks comes from a “Garage” in Long Island City which supplies a large portion of the cooks with their main ingredient. Yet, the meals from each cart are distinct in taste because of the variety of spices and other ingredients used to set one cart apart from the other. This diversity in taste promotes preferences among customers and competition among owners. Below are some of the secret recipes that were revealed from some of the most popular halal carts:

  1. Kwik Meal Halal Cart: the lamb and rice plate aren’t made from the usual gyro (a roasted loaf of blended meats), but real lamb coupled with unusual flavors like a papaya puree.
  2. Hassad’s Healthy Halal. Instead of chopped chicken pieces, Hassad uses grilled chicken tenders, broccoli florets, and other vegetables that he grills and serves up with salad and fat free dressing.
  3. Prince of Egypt: The cook fries the seasoned chicken with green peppers and onions on top, letting the juices seep into the meat.
  4. Halal Guys White Sauce: A possible spin off of the traditional Greek sauce “tzatziki, ” the white sauce is roughly a mayo based sauce including: soybean, canola oil, egg yolk, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, black pepper and common condiment additives like disodium EDTA, xanthan gum and sodium benzoate.
  5. Halal Guys Red Sauce: possible offshoot of the thicker Egyptian harissa sauce, this spicy hot cause includes ground red pepper, vinegar, salt, spices and lemon juice

Want to make your own halal cart food at your own home? Check this delicious recipe out:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
  • ¼ 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
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ cups long-grain or Basmati rice
  • 2½ cups chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • To serve:
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • Pita bread or naan bread, warmed


  1. Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth and well combined.
  2. Season the marinade to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and add half of the marinade (reserve the remaining marinade in the refrigerator).
  4. Turn the chicken to coat, seal the bag, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade Do not marinate for longer than 4 hours. If need to wait longer, remove chicken from marinade and pat dry and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. When ready to use, season with salt and pepper, going heavy on the pepper.
  6. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat until it is lightly smoking.
  7. Add the chicken pieces and cook without disturbing until they are lightly browned on the first side, about 4 minutes.Turn the chicken and reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the center of each thigh registers 165°F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes longer.
  8. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  9. Chop the chicken into ½- to ¼-inch chunks. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the remaining marinade, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate while you cook the rice and prepare the sauce.
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large heavy pan. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat.
  2. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from the heat and allow to rest until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  1. Return chicken, reserved marinade, and all pan juices to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. To serve, divide the rice, lettuce, tomato, and toasted pita bread evenly among four to six plates. Pile the chicken on top of the rice. Top with the white sauce. Serve immediately. Have extra sauce on hand!

One thought on “What’s Inside Your Food?

  • November 10, 2018 at 5:21 am

    which brand of Greek yogurt should I use?


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