Moro de Habichuelas (Dominican Rice and Beans) is one of the most common dishes on the Dominican table, and you can modify it by using other types of beans.
What is moro? Moro rice is a combination of rice and beans cooked into the same dish. Moro de Habichuelas is the most popular one in our country.
Dominicans are not the only ones 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.
Take Cuba for example. The Cuban counterpart of this popular Dominican dish is called "moros y cristianos" or Moors and Christians (a reminder of pre-colonial attitudes) 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 is prepared with fewer ingredients than the Dominican version. In Jamaica, it is known as "rice and peas".
Different versions of Moro
Moro is a mixture of rice, and beans or pulses. But the definition of moro rice is very specific, as not all pulses can be part of a moro. At least not in our country.
This recipe is a generic one which can be made with red kidney beans, pinto or cranberry beans. It can also be modified by using either black beans, fava beans, butter beans, navy beans, or guandules (pigeon peas). There's also a lesser-known version called Moro-Locrio which is made by adding meat to a moro dish.
Our Moro de Habichuelas recipe
Each household in the Dominican Republic probably has its own version of this dish, but the general concept of how to make Dominican rice and beans remains the same.
The addition of thyme to this recipe is owed to the fact that this is a very common ingredient in bean dishes in the northwestern DR, where I hail from. Feel free to adapt this recipe to your and your family's taste. And we'd love to hear what's different in yours.
Moro de Habichuelas Recipe
- 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 long grain white 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, and 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.