Whether it’s the many proverbs about love and the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, it is no hidden secret that you learn a lot about a culture and people in general through food. That’s why when I travel, I’ll try everything at least once. Also, I try to snag one or two recipes while traveling as I find them as the cheapest and longest lasting souvenirs.
On my recent trips to Cuba, I have had the opportunity to enjoy many mojitos, roasted pork, yuca, plantains, and of course rice and beans. In this post, I would like to highlight one of Cuba’s most typical side dishes called Moros y Cristianos (The Moors and the Christians). Many would compare this to dirty rice from the Southern States or even Arroz Congri from some of the other Caribbean Islands. **As an insider’s tip, this dish has many nicknames: moros, congri, or arroz moro.
So, get ready, check your kitchens, and learn how to make one of the staples of Cuban Cuisine, Moros y Cristianos.
- 2 Cups of White Rice
- 2 Cups of Black Beans (already cooked and in their own salted broth, which cuts the amount of water needed and adds color)
- 4 Tbps of Cooking Oil
- 1/4 lb Ham Diced
- 2 Medium Onions Diced
- 1 Medium Sweet Red Pepper Diced
- 1 Medium Green Pepper Diced
- 4 Tbps of Dry White Wine, “El Mundo,” which is made from sugar cane juice (guarapo)
- 4-5 Garlic Cloves
- 8-10 Sprigs of Basil
- Rice Cooker
- Cutting Board
- Large Slotted Spoon
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
- Dice all onions, peppers, and ham into rough cubes
- Chop the garlic and leave the skins on the cloves to add more Cuban sabor (flavor)
- Add oil to the hot rice cooker
- Add the vegetables, ham, and garlic to the rice cooker to sautee all together while stirring with the slotted spoon
- Add the dry white wine and stir
- Add the rice and beans in their own broth and stir
- Peel the basil sprigs and place the full leaves in the rice cooker and stir
- 1 cup of salted water (**Rule of thumb is to flavor the water/broth to the same flavor as salt water of the ocean. Add salt to the cup of water and taste. Remember to do the same to the black beans and its broth as well.)
- Let the mixture cook for 30 minutes until the rice is fully cooked
- Serve as a side dish for other Cuban Cuisine favorites such as roasted pork, roja vieja, or other.
I hope that you have success with this Cuban Cuisine 101 lesson on Moros y Cristianos. If you have questions about the process, please comment. Here’s another couple recipes, I’ve highlighted in the past: Tortilla Española and Pisco Sour.
As would be typical in Cuba, Buen Provecho (enjoy your meal)!
Here’s to more good times and good stories.