Moro is a mixture of rice, beans and vegetables. This is one of the most common dishes on the Dominican table. We are presenting here a generic recipe in which you can use either black beans, white beans, faba beans, butter beans or green pigeon peas in place of the red kidney beans.
Dominicans are not the only ones to serve rice and beans, or to make moro, in fact this dish seems to exist in different incarnations in several Caribbean and Latin American nations.
Of course each country has its own flavor and combination of ingredients, just like each household in the Dominican Republic probably has its own version of this dish, but the general concept remains the same.
Take for example Cuba. The Cuban counterpart of this popular Dominican dish bears the name, “moros y cristianos” or Christians and Moors (a reminder of colonial times sensibilities) as it is still known in Cuba. It was shortened to moro in the Dominican Republic.
In Haiti it is known as “ris et pois”, and prepared with fewer ingredients than the Dominican one. In Jamaica it is known as “rice and peas”.
The addition of thyme to this version is owed to the fact that this is a very common ingredient in beans recipes in the Northwest DR, where I hail from.
- 5 tablespoons of oil , divided
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon mashed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of dry thyme leaves , or a 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup of chopped celery
- 1/8 cup of sliced pitted olives (optional)
- 1 pinch of oregano
- 1/4 cup of diced cubanela (cubanelle) peppers
- 1/8 cup of capers (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
- 2 cups of soft-boiled or canned kidney beans
- 2 teaspoons of salt (or more, to taste)
- 5 cups water
- 4 cups of rice
Heat half the oil (2.5 Tbsp) in an iron pot over low heat and add cilantro, garlic, thyme, celery, olives, oregano, cubanela, capers. Cook and stir for a minute, or until the ingredients release their aroma. Stir in the tomato sauce.
Add beans, also while stirring, add season with salt. Once heated through, add water and bring to the boil (try the mixture and add salt to taste before proceeding, bear in mind that the rice will absorb some of the salt, so don't low-ball it).
Stir in the rice and simmer stirring frequently to avoid excessive sticking. Make sure to remove the rice that sticks to the bottom.
When the water has evaporated cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes have passed uncover, add the remaining oil and stir.
Cover again another 5 minutes. After this the rice should be firm but tender inside. If necessary, cover and leave another 5 minutes over very low heat (if at this point it looks too dry add 1/4 cup of boiling water before stirring and covering.
Serve with meat, (or seafood), a side dish and salad.
If you boil the beans yourself use the water in which they boiled in place of (or partially) the 6 cups of water called for in the recipe. If you use canned beans throw away the liquid in which they came in the can and use fresh water. The liquid in the can is loaded with sodium and doesn't taste very well.