Cuban black beans and rice, or Moros y Christianos, is a Latin American classic that’s simple and completely satisfying.
Moros y Christianos translates to “Moors and Christians” — the black beans symbolizing darker peoples, and the rice signifying white people. I didn’t make this up, I’m just reporting it! If you want a bit more history on this interestingly named dish, you can peruse 196 Flavors’ take on this Cuban classic for more background.
Nearly every Latin American and Caribbean country has its own standard rice and bean dish (like Jamaican red beans and rice), and this variation is served widely both in home and restaurants in Cuba.
This recipe starts with a sofrito — a sauté of onions, garlic, and peppers — then the raw rice gets folded in and cooked with them, making it extra tasty.
The optional ingredients listed in the recipe — lemon or lime wedges, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, and avocado, are suggested for topping. Not necessarily traditional to the recipe, they make a great dish even better.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium green or red bell pepper, or half of each, finely diced (see note)
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup finely chopped ripe tomatoes or one 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) black beans (see Note)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional toppings; use any or all
- Lemon or lime wedges
- Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- 1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
- Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and bell pepper and continue to sauté until they’ve softened and the onion is golden, about 8 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir well to incorporate with the other ingredients.
- Stir in the water, tomatoes, cumin, and oregano.
- Bring to a rapid simmer. Lower the heat and cook covered, for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Check to see if the rice is done; if not, stir in 1/2 cup more water and let it absorb. Repeat if needed until the rice is done to your liking.
- Stir in the beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, just until everything is piping hot.
- Serve at once, using any or all of the optional additions for topping.
Note: If you have a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or Instant Pot®, these machines come with instructions on how to cook beans. If you want to cook beans the old-fashioned way, in a cooking pot, follow this link for instructions.
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Photos (top and middle): Nata Vkusiday/Bigstock