Traditional Cuban Recipe Moros Y Cristianos

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We recently had an opportunity to travel to Cuba. Our people-to-people exchange gave us the chance to meet with Cubans and experience, among other things, their love of sharing a meal. And through it all, one dish appeared over and over again, whether prepared at a restaurant, in a church kitchen or at home – Platillo Moros y Cristianos, a black beans and rice dish that carries with it a deep cultural history.

Moro with Fish and Shrimp

Moro with Fish and Shrimp

 

The name “Moros y Cristianos” literally translates into “Moors and Christians.” In this dish, the black beans represent the Muslim Moors while the white rice represents the Spanish Christians.  The dish commemorates the Reconquista, a long period of battle between the Islamic Moors and the Christian Spaniards and represents how the groups came to live together in the Iberian Peninsula.

Moro With Roasted Pork

Moro With Roasted Pork

 

There are a variety of similar dishes with some distinctions. For example, “congri” is a similar rice and beans dish made more predominantly in the eastern part of Cuba, where the beans used are red rather than black. Some versions have the beans and rice cooked apart separately and mixed together only when served. Either way, rice and beans are a constant in Cuban cuisine.

Moro with Chicken Breast

Moro with Chicken Breast

 

There are as many recipes for Moros y Cristianos as there are Cubans with kitchens. Here we offer a very simple traditional recipe of this dish, often simply called “Moro” by Cubans. The one ingredient that we learned is important not only to cooking this dish, but to life in Cuba in general, is patience. Don’t try to rush the cooking process. It will proceed well if you allow it ample time for the flavors to develop and blend together.

Simple Cooking Techniques for Moro

Simple Cooking Techniques for Moro

 

MOROS Y CRISTIANOS

Ingredients 

1 cup of dried black beans
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1/2 small green pepper, minced
1/2 white onion, minced
3 cups white rice, long-grain
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Serves 6

Good Moro Takes Patience

Good Moro Takes Patience

 

Directions

If using dry beans, soak in cold water overnight. Drain and place in a stock pot with fresh water covering the beans. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer, covered for 1 hour or until beans are tender but firm. Drain the beans by pouring the cooking water into a bowl. Save the water, you will use it later for the rice.

Add the vegetable oil to the stock pot and sauté the garlic, pepper and onion for 2 to 3 minutes until they soften. Stir in the black beans and rice, and add the water you have saved from cooking the beans. Add an additional 2 cups of water.

Making Lots of Moro

Making Lots of Moro

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is tender, approximately 20 minutes. Stir frequently and check to see if you need additional water to keep the rice from sticking. You can add more water 1/2 cup at a time while it finishes. Just don’t overdo it or your rice will get mushy.

Once the rice is fully cooked, add the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. The dish is best served hot. If you like, you can add some chopped bacon at the end. Or serve as a side dish with a hearty roasted meat like pork or chicken.

Moro with Chicken and Vegetables

Moro with Chicken and Vegetables

 

THE QUICK BITE:  Platillo Moros y Cristianos is a traditional Cuban dish of black beans and rice that carries with it a deep cultural history. We offer a simple authentic recipe for you to try at home.

 

18 Responses to Traditional Cuban Recipe Moros Y Cristianos

  1. Pauline Kahney Reply

    March 22, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Just returned fro Cuba and the first thing I noticed is how young and old are glowing with good health! Is it the free health service or the unavailability of junk food? They are smiling constantly, perfectly turned out and carry themselves with pride. Long may it last!

  2. Omar Reply

    December 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

    It’s supposed to be made with olive oil, not vegetable oil. It also should include bacon. Unfortunately, these products which were quite cheap before the Castro regime, are now very expensive for most Cubans. Hopefully the new opening will eventually restore both freedom and Cuba’s cuisine.

  3. Tim & Nat ✈ (@acooknotmad) Reply

    August 11, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Looks delicious, will have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. We’re really looking forward to the day when Americans can visit Cuba freely without having to jump through so many hoops. We’ve developed a real love for rice and beans during our travels through Mexico and Central America but have yet to try cooking our own. We’ll have to try out your tempting recipe!

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 11, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Welcome! Thanks for stopping by. Give the recipe a try and let us know what you think. Enjoy!

  5. Michelle Reply

    August 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    The food looks delicious and healthy too. I enjoyed watching the meal being made. I would love to be able to visit Cuba one day! I enjoyed watching the meal being made.

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      It was delicious. The Cubans have such a passion for life and food. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. travelwithmarilyn Reply

    August 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Wonderful post! I do hope some day we’ll be able to visit Cuba. I enjoyed learning all about the food and the community!

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks Marilyn! We’ll be writing more in the future. We loved learned about the Cuban culture first hand.

  7. Suzanne Fluhr Reply

    August 7, 2014 at 1:40 am

    One of these days, US citizens will be allowed to travel freely to Cuba. I visited Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos this year without a problem. I’d probably like Moros y Cristianos. I don’t like bananas which disqualifies a lot of Cuban cuisine for me—-mofongo—ugh.

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Suzanne! There’s plenty of other Cuban specialties that don’t include bananas or plantains. Be watching for more Cuban recipes soon!

  8. Doreen Pendgracs Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I really love Cuba. The scenery, beaches, music, people and history are all great. Love the Cuban rum and drinks. But unfortunately I was not enamoured at all with the food.

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Doreen! The food is a bit tricky especially when traveling around Cuba. We found the home-made dishes to be the best. Must have been the extra love that went into the recipe.

  9. Carole Terwilliger Meyers Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I enjoyed the story that went with your recipe for black beans and rice. You might enjoy a recipe I just gathered on a recent visit to Kauai, Hawaii, http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Way-Beyond/SuperSimple-Recipes/Kauai-Fruit-Salad/kauai-fruit-salad.html

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Carole! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your recipe from Kauai, much appreciated.

  10. diana

    diana Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 7:05 am

    It is an experience you will not soon forget. The people we met were wonderful!

  11. The GypsyNesters Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Love this! We love food, but frankly, we love the history of food even more. Thanks so much for sharing – we were hooked by the name of the dish (awesome)- and your photos wonderfully set the mood. Want to go to Cuba now!

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      August 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks GypsyNesters! We love all the stories around food especially the history. Cuba is amazing the people are hard-working and resilient. The food is different from what you’ll find in most American Cuban restaurants but definitely worth the trip. See you at TBEX!

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