Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick Bites: Halal Chicken Over Rice

As a foodie walking around the streets of New York, I noticed a big change since the first few times I visited the city.  Sidewalks that were once dominated by the ubiquitous hotdog stand now shares it with what used to be considered exotic fare- Halal food. 
Halal foods are described as “foods allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines”.  What initially comes to my mind is a highly restricted diet wherein flavors are compromised in the name of religion and health.  However, I soon discover that following certain guidelines does not in any way result in bland and boring food- something New Yorkers have obviously discovered these past few years.
I have heard about Chicken Over Rice from my young relatives who, on numerous occasions, have stumbled out of a New York City bar or club and were lured by the scent of chicken or lamb cooked over a hot griddle.  

We were told that the best halal cart can be found at 53rd St. and 6th Ave., but unfortunately we never found ourselves in that area.  However, we did find a cart in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital and, like most that were within a 20-foot radius of the spot, we were lassoed in by the aromas of exotic spices and meat.
The choices are very simple: chicken, lamb or falafel accompanied by either rice or flat bread (or both).  I initially tried the popular Chicken Over Rice, but later on I have discovered that a combo of lamb and chicken is a tastier option.  The allure seems to lie on the pungent mixture of spices- from the flavorful rice, to the marinated meats, to the spicy kick of the red sauce and garlic yogurt.  It is a full-on attack on the senses, and at $6 a plate, an amazing deal in a notoriously expensive town.  

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