Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut)

Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut)

I was 12, and I fell in love. It was all new to me and I was smitten: I ate moro de guandules con coco for the first time.

It was my first trip to Samaná, and I remember with a smile the horror on my brother’s face when he found out that the food contained coconut. Madness! Coconut doesn’t belong in savory dishes!

Or does it?

Arroz con Gandules

But let’s take a second to talk about guandules (pigeon peas).

With the possible exception of Puerto Rico (where it’s called gandules) no other nation seems to appreciate this legume like Dominicans do. It is found, fresh, dried and canned in every supermarket, market and corner store, its smoky taste well-loved by Dominicans of all walks of life. And while beans (red kidney, cranberry or pinto) are king here, pigeon peas are a special treat. There is not a corner of our Republic where guandules are not known.

Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut)

But in Samaná somebody (or possibly several somebodies) had a struck of genius: to combine pigeon peas with coconut. This is possibly a natural progression from the fact that Samaná is covered from corner to corner with coconut groves. Coconut in all its incarnations is enjoyed in the beautiful bay.

From Samaná we also received the gifts of guandules con coco, pescado con coco, pan de coco and several other dishes containing the fruit from the noble tree.

Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut)

This dish is full of flavor and the buttery goodness of coconut. It is an obligatory addition to any special meal Dominican-style. It is also part of our traditional Dominican Christmas dinner.

Buen provecho!

Aunt Clara
Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut) Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Moro de Guandules / Gandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut) comes from Samana, a simple recipe adopted by all Dominicans.
Serves: 6 porciones
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup of chopped celery
  • ⅛ cup of capers (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon mashed garlic
  • 12 pitted olives cut into halves (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon of thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup of chopped cubanelle or bell peppers (1 pepper, aprox)
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • 1½ teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of boiled green pigeon peas
  • 3½ cups water
  • ½ cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 4 cups of rice
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 1½ gl [6 lt] iron pot and add the cilantro, celery, capers, garlic, olives, thyme, peppers, oregano and salt and cook and stir for a minute. Add the peas, also while stirring. Once well heated, add water, tomato sauce and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in rice and simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly and removing as much as you can of the rice that sticks to the bottom. When all the water has evaporated cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat. Wait 15 minutes, uncover, stir in the remaining oil. Move the rice from the bottom to the top so it cooks uniformly. Cover again and simmer another 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover and taste. The rice should be firm but tender inside. If necessary, cover and leave another 5 minutes on very low heat.
  4. Serve warm with meat or fish of your choice.

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{ 25 comments… add one }

  • maria orlotti December 24, 2014, 12:43 PM

    I love ur recipes,they are great! specially for people that are learning how to cook, YOU PUT EVERYTHING WITH DETAILS, that is important so the dish come to a perfection! thanks so much for sharing with us !

  • Yvonne August 17, 2014, 10:10 AM

    Just reading all of the makings to your recipes read great! I cannot wait to try some of them.

  • Margie December 6, 2013, 10:55 AM

    This recipe was okay at the least. I’m Puerto Rican so I make a similar dish, arroz con gandules, which, I think, has more depth in flavors. And PRs use “sofrito” which negates the need to use some of the ingredients in your recipe. But I’d make this again just to change things up because I love using coconut milk when I cook & also because I enjoy trying other kinds of Latin cuisine. One comment, though, is the organization of your ingredient list. Ingredients should be listed in the order that they’re used in a recipe. It was a bit difficult following the recipe when the list differed from the order they were used in the instructions. But many of your recipes sound delicious & I look forward to trying them. I’ve tried one of your baked chicken recipes which came out delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ann May 3, 2015, 2:37 PM

      I agree and I used half the amount of rice. I’d make it again but increase the ingredients that give it flavor.

    • Aunt Clara May 5, 2015, 12:32 PM

      Thanks, Margie. I have changed the order of the ingredients, some of the recipes are older, and they were organized in order of importance of the ingredients. Newer recipes are organized in order of use.

      I do not use industrial-made seasonings, if I can avoid it. The tomato sauce already has some seasoning to it (notice the link), but some people are used to the stronger flavor of prepared seasonings, I am more of the school of fresh ingredients and letting the main ingredient shine. Of course readers are free to change recipes to adapt to their taste, if they know what they’re doing.

  • Cathy November 6, 2013, 7:43 PM

    Can you tell me what size pot 4qrt, 6 qt’. Or more sorry not a cook just

  • Rajesh October 23, 2013, 11:32 AM

    Hello, I am Indian, and I live in the Dominican republic now. I have used your website for several dishes including Habichuelas con Dulce – much to the amazement of my Dominican friends and family. I came here looking for this recipe and glad you have it.

    Just wanted to alert you that like me guandules came from South India. However, we use a dried version of it and it is used daily by over 200 million Indian people around the world. Wanted to say that DR and PR are not alone in their appreciation of Guandules..

    • Aunt Clara October 23, 2013, 11:45 AM

      Awesome! I learned something new today, thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Chrstina June 7, 2013, 10:21 PM

    Aunt Clara! I was born and raised in Washington Heights, NYC which I am sure you are aware is a HUGE Dominican community. When I came accross this recepie, I was surprised that I have never heard of this dish. Although I am not Dominican, I am no stranger to Dominican Households. Anyhow I gave it a shot and it came out sooooo good!!! I have made this dish countless times and I have I have even changed up the recepie as well. Aside from guandules, I have also tried both black and red kidney beans too. I have yet to make this dish using oregeno, celery & thyme but I did add a bay leaf. I am a real critic when it comes to food. Thank you so much for all you do and the love you put into your cooking. Thank you for sharing your secrets with the world!

  • angee May 30, 2013, 11:24 AM

    We hosted a Dominican dinner last night and served this. It’s one of the dishes my husband remembers from his years living there. The boys we served loved it and kept coming back for more and more!

    • Aunt Clara May 30, 2013, 1:59 PM

      Hi Angee,

      Thanks so much for the feedback. I am glad you liked it.

  • Yami August 30, 2012, 12:50 AM

    Great recipe! Love how you incorporated the beautiful samana bay as a background of many coconut dishes, Ive visited and the people,beaches and their way of cooking with coconut is truly amazing, it makes the Dominican Republic proud.

  • Aleho August 26, 2012, 6:01 AM

    Oh my god, this is divine!
    Sorry God, but I can’t find other words to describe this wholeness and harmony of flavours. From now on I will consider this to be the flavour Queen of all moro dishes.

    Thank you Aunt Clara for sharing this. You’re an Angel!

  • CW August 17, 2012, 10:49 AM

    Rice and peas is found throughout the Caribbean from Jamaica to Barbados. It is one of the national dishes of Barbados. Nearly every backyard garden has a tree. The recipe for Barbados rice and peas does not traditionally contain olives, capers nor coconut unlike Jamaican rice and peas, since these ingredients were not readily found on the island.

  • Jazmin July 31, 2012, 5:48 PM

    When should the celery, garlic and peppers be added?

  • genesis April 23, 2012, 8:00 PM

    me encanta el moro de guandule con coco

  • Heart March 7, 2012, 3:00 PM

    When do I add the pigeon peas?

    • Aunt Clara March 7, 2012, 3:11 PM

      Sorry, my bad. I just copied the recipe to the new Google-friendly format and must have left something behind.

      ETA, sorry, there was no error. You missed step 3.

  • Arlene January 22, 2012, 5:54 AM

    I am dominican and had never had (or made) this with coco. I made this for my mom, hubby and siblings…it was a hit along with your pollo con wasakaka, the piananos (appetizer) and the sopa de pescado (this soup came out so god that my mom even took some home! we are soup lovers) Thanks so much for posting all these recipes, Aunt Clara!

  • Joan Miller July 29, 2011, 11:00 AM

    This recipe is so delicious!!! The spices are just right, my guest's loved it! Thank you!

  • Miguel June 1, 2011, 3:21 PM

    @pja peppers and celery are considered one of the spices. but u can make it without them.

  • Aunt Clara January 8, 2011, 6:29 PM

    Glad you like the new look. It's all about you guys. :)

    Thanks for the note about the olives. Some people don't like olives, so I guess I glossed over that one, I added it to the list of ingredients now.

  • calypso January 8, 2011, 3:44 AM

    you forgot to put olives in the ingredients. i love the new look. keep up the good work :) happy new year!