Aug 9, 2016

NYC Halal Truck Lamb Platter

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
This lamb platter is based on the middle-eastern food served at trucks like the famous The Halal Guys food trucks in New York City.
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In this version of the iconic street food recipe, tender seasoned lamb is served as a rice bowl with turmeric rice and topped with lettuce, tomato, spiced Greek yogurt sauce, hot sauce and pita bread. This also happens to be my typical late night food order these days when walking home from the subway. The spiced ground lamb is seasoned with a combination of salt, paprika, cumin, coriander, curry powder and pepper. This lamb bowl makes a great easy lunch or dinner.

What does it mean when meat is halal?

Halal means “permissible” in Arabic, meaning it is accepted under Islamic law. The animal must be slaughtered under certain guidelines and the cuts of meat must not come from forbidden areas like the hindquarters of an animal or forbidden animals like pig.

Ingredients in this lamb platter

  • Ground lamb – When buying lamb, look for meat that has a soft pink to red coloring, it will be freshest. If you aren’t using your lamb right away unwrap it from the butcher paper and add it to an airtight container and refrigerate. In this recipe the lamb is seasoned with a blend of spices like paprika, cumin, coriander, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  • Turmeric – Turmeric is added to the rice to both season it and give it the bright yellow color. Be careful when cooking with turmeric as it’s known for a lot of health benefits and great flavor but it can also cause a bright yellow stain on anything that it gets on. Lighter colored cooking utensils can be cleaned using two parts hot water to one part bleach or vinegar. 
  • Basmati rice – Basmati rice is an aromatic long-grain white rice. It is used in many Mediterranean and middle eastern recipes but can easily be swapped out for long-grain white rice.
  • Greek yogurt – Full-fat (5% fat) Greek yogurt is combined with coriander, cumin, white pepper (to keep the color white but it can be swapped for black pepper), vinegar and lemon juice. The sauce can be left unseasoned in a pinch.
  • Romaine lettuce – I prefer chopped romaine to the finely shredded iceberg lettuce some carts serve.
  • Tomatoes – I use cherry tomatoes because they have a thicker skin than diced tomatoes and add a nice texture. The can easily be swapped with diced Roma tomatoes.
  • Hot sauce – I use a vinegar-based hot sauce like Crystal Louisiana hot sauce. The acidic vinegar sauce complements the other flavors in the bowl.
NYC Halal Truck Lamb Platter topped with tomatoes lettuce and white sauce

Steps to make lamb platter

Step 1:

Make the turmeric rice in a pot or rice cooker.

Step 2:

Mix the ground lamb with the spices.

Step 3:

Cook the seasoned lamb mixture and in a pan until golden brown and cooked through.

Step 4:

Make the yogurt sauce.

Step 5:

Divide the lettuce among 4 bowls. Top each with a scoop of the rice, lamb, tomato, hot sauce and the spiced yogurt sauce. Serve with a side of pita bread.

NYC Halal Truck Lamb Platter

Tips for this recipe

  • Ground lamb can dry out quickly when cooking so make sure you add the lamb to a very hot pan and cook it quickly at the higher temperature. Remove it from the pan and transfer to a serving bowl to keep it from over-cooking.
  • You can also substitute ground beef or thinly sliced pieces of lamb shoulder seasoned and quickly cooked in the pan. 
  • The meat can be seasoned ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use to develop deeper flavors or seasoned just before cooking for a quicker meal.
  • For a more simplified version of the recipe substitute any rice of choice for the turmeric basmati and leave the Greek yogurt unseasoned for a quicker version of the sauce.
  • Omit the pita for a gluten free version.
seasoned ground lamb over turmeric rice with lettuce naan hot sauce and yogurt sauce

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

NYC Halal Truck Lamb Platter

Print Pin
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 4


For the turmeric rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ¾ cup diced yellow onion
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For the lamb:

  • pounds ground lamb
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the spiced yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For serving:

  • 3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • Vinegar based hot sauce of choice, for serving
  • Pita bread, for serving


For the turmeric rice:

  • Add the rice, onion, turmeric, cardamom and chicken stock to a medium sauté pan or rice cooker. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff the rice mixture with a fork and season to taste with salt.

For the lamb:

  • In a large mixing bowl, toss the ground lamb with the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, salt, paprika, cumin, coriander, curry powder, ground cinnamon and black pepper. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the lamb mixture and sauté until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from sauté pan and set aside in a covered bowl until ready to serve.

For the spiced yogurt sauce:

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt with the coriander, cumin, white pepper, salt, vinegar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For serving:

  • Divide the lettuce among 4 bowls. Top each with a scoop of the rice, lamb, tomato, hot sauce and the spiced yogurt sauce. Serve with a side of pita bread.



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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this yesterday and I LOVED it. I didn’t have romaine lettuce so I used coleslaw cabbage mix and added lemon, olive oil and sumac to give me more acid. So yummy!

    • I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed! Thank you so much for sharing! Great notes on those swaps too!

  2. I love lamb & rice platters! This looks phenomenal. Any estimate what the calories are? Thanks.

    • I’ve gone ahead and plugged the ingredients and the estimate is about 737 kcal per serving. Hope this helps.

  3. This recipe was great! I used lamb shoulder that I cut into cubes, then cooked in my cast iron skillet. Turned out lovely, with some great flavor in it!

    • So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I will have to try with lamb shoulder – that sounds great!

  4. hello! I’m so excited to try and make this! This may sound like a weird question, but im curious. The carts by me, the lamb is cubed and then flat top grilled for cripsy edges. I wonder how I can go about doing that with this recipe? I was wondering If i should try and make it a loaf and then cube it up and cook in a pan after.

    • Hope you enjoy the recipe! Not a weird question at all! While I’ve never tested it seems to be more like a meatloaf style. I’d form the seasoned lamb mixture into a loaf shape then bake at 400ºF until cooked through then slice it into cubes and sear it so it’s crispy! If you try it let me know how it turns out!!

  5. Hey Kylie, Thanks for the recipe.

    What if I didn’t want it ‘lightened up’? Would I just use higher fat content lamb? Or are there are other aspects of the drunk-food style that you omitted?

    Thanks again!

    • The "lightened up" is more in regard it not being nearly as greasy as you would get from a truck! The turmeric rice and yogurt sauce are on the naturally lighter side along with the fresh tomatoes and lettuce without taking away from the flavors. It’s a naturally lightened up version — there really isn’t anything to change except maybe less lettuce? Ground lamb is pretty standard with the fat content and is already full of flavor. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  6. love halal guys! when they first opened in socal (costa mesa, which is like 30 minutes south of la), the line was 4+ hours! luckily the wait isn’t as bad anymore, but this still sounds like a good solution when i don’t want to deal with any of it.

    • Yes!! So crazy!! The line for the one here gets nuts too, I still haven’t been since they recently opened. This version has also been lightened up a bit 🙂 Hope you enjoy Heather!