Going Gluten-Free & Recipe for NYC’s Halal Food Cart Chicken and Rice (Roz bi Farakh)

I have been a mixed bag of emotions lately. I recently found out I have a gluten intolerance. My feelings have fluctuated between elation for having found the “cure” for my symptoms, to depression every time I walk past bakery and smell the scent of freshly baked bread and pastries. At first, I was stunned– “What the heck am I going to eat?” I have come to realize that there are plenty of things that I can eat, but that there are also plenty of things that I *can’t* eat.

Since going gluten-free (“GF” as I have found to be the term for it), I have tried to eat a small bit of gluten…..well, really it was an entire pastry. I was getting sick of eating my GF cereal that tasted like I was eating a bowl of pebbles in milk. Then I was out getting a latte when I saw the evil pastry and my willpower caved. “I haven’t had gluten in 2 weeks, I don’t have celiac, so what could possibly happen?”

Mr. Barista – “Add one of these tarts to my order, please.”

Oh, it was heavenly. A small caramelized onion, egg, and turkey bacon tart. The buttery flaky crust was delicious, and it perfectly complemented my morning cup o’ joe. I felt okay after I ate it, but a bit guilty. I felt like I was fasting for Ramadan and had snuck a bite of food and God was watching me. I went about my morning, and then IT set in. IT being the gluten. Ugh, it was miserable. Aside from gastro problems, I ended up with a migraine for 2 days. That was all I needed to convince me: no matter how delicious that bread smells, how good the little tart looks, nor how much I wanted a piece of pizza, there would be NO GLUTEN going into my body.

Going GF has really changed my life. I have been cooking most of my meals at home, watching ingredients like a hawk, and feeling GOOD about my body and what I am putting into it. But it is not easy – it is HARD. It takes willpower – the Ramadan-cannot-eat-food-even-though-you-really-want-it kind of willpower. Also, I often times feel paralyzed in my own kitchen. When I go through my mental rolodex of recipes, instead of finding what I can make, I think of all the things I can’t make. I am praying that with time, this GF diet will get easier, and that my GF recipe repertoire will increase. In the meantime, I hope to share my GF journey with my midEATS readers, who keep me positive, energetic, and excited about cooking and sharing!

So without further ado….to make myself feel better, I made Serious Eats’ version of the NYC chicken and rice dish that you can find at the halal food carts. This is my favorite recipe, as it reminds me of America, and walking the streets of NYC with my husband on a crisp fall afternoon.  We used to enjoy eating this sitting on a park bench, making a mess of ourselves, as we chatted with the Egyptian food cart vendor (most were from my town El Mansourah in Egypt!).

Once you mix it all up – Delish!

Anyway, a million miles away, eating this with my kids brings a smile to my GF-self! I hope you enjoy making and eating this as much as we do.

Adapted from Serious Eats

Recipe for NYC’s Halal Food Cart Chicken and Rice (Roz bi Farakh)

by Brenda

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Keywords: saute boil entree gluten-free rice chicken ramadan Middle Eastern

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the Chicken:

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 cloves of garlic (but 2 is plenty)
  • 1/4 cup quality olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Rice:

  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

For the Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley (must be fresh!)


For the Chicken:

(1) Place the chicken breast cubes in a large bowl.

(2) Place the remaining ingredients into a small food processor. Mix well until the garlic is finely minced.

(3) Add the marinade to the chicken, and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

For the Rice:

(1) Heat the ghee or butter to a small pot. Let melt over high heat.

(2) Add the rice and spices to the pot. Mix well, until the rice is evenly coated with the spices.

(3) Add the chicken broth. Once the mixture comes to a rapid simmer, reduce the heat and cover the rice.

(4) Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until the liquid has been completely absorbed.

For the Yogurt:

(1) Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Back to the Chicken:

(1) In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the entire contents of your chicken and marinade.

(2) Allow the chicken to fully cook (approx. 10 minutes) and get a nice caramalized color on the chicken.

Combine the rice and chicken in a bowl. Top with yogurt dressing and ENJOY!

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  1. Great recipe, Brenda! I’m excited to try it! I’ve been gluten free for about two years now, after being diagnosed with celiac disease. I really appreciate finding quality recipes that I can enjoy.

    Living gluten free does get easier. After the first 6 months or so I had tried enough of the products available to find ones I really liked. By then I also wasn’t feeling as paranoid about reading labels, frantically googling weird terms while standing in the grocery store aisles. (so thankful for smart-phones, though! ) I am tempted to cheat every now and then, but it’s really just a wistful longing. My body feels so much better that I really don’t want the stuff. (I can even resist girl scout cookies!) Eating out is still hard, and I’ve learned to pack travel meals and snacks for long trips.

    So hang in there, it does get better! And please keep posting gf goodies!

  2. Loved this recipe. Hubby didn’t like the sauce BBC he found it sweet. Will continue to do it and tone down on sugar. Thanks. U rock.

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