225 gr dried black beanssoaked the night before
1 l Water
½ green bell pepperchopped
½ medium onionchopped
4 garlic clovesminced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¾ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Saltand more to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegaror red wine or apple
½ tablespoon Sugar
We’re going to Cuba with this recipe of rice and black beans. This recipe has variations that depend on the area of the country. For example, if you visit the east, they will offer you congrí with red beans in oriental style. But if you are in Havana, you will see this recipe made with black beans: the habanero style.
It is said that the Arroz y Frijoles Negros recipe has been around since the 19th century and there are several assumptions about its origin and its name.
The first popular legend says that congrí “sounds like French”, and from there the hypothesis was put together that the recipe comes from a fusion of French and African food that slaves brought to the island. However, this is not the only theory.
There is another that is affirmed by the great Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, who says that congrí comes from Haiti, where red beans are called congó and rice riz, as in French, the combination of both terms would have created the word congrí.
Another hypothesis of how the recipe came about is found in the famous book Cocina al minute by Nitza Villapol. In this it is said that at some point, as beans take a while to cook, it occurred to someone to shorten the time by adding rice to the beans when they were quite tender.
But let’s leave history aside and see how you can prepare this traditional Cuban traditional. The recipe is very easy so you don’t need to be a professional chef. Why wait any longer to give it a try?
How to Make Arroz y Frijoles Negros (Rice and Black Beans):
- Cooking black beans is easy and inexpensive. First, cover the beans with water and soak overnight. Before cooking, drain the beans and add fresh tap water. You can cook the beans on the stovetop, in a pressure cooker, or in an electric slow cooker.
- Drain the beans and add them to a pot with water, half the pepper, half the onion, half the garlic and the bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer for 45 minutes.
- After 35 minutes, start preparing the sauce. Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Sauté the onion first, then the pepper, and finally the garlic. Add the cumin, paprika, and oregano and fry, stirring, for 30 seconds or until the aroma is released.
- Add the sauce to the beans along with the salt, cover the pot again, and continue boiling for another 30 minutes.
How to Prepare the Rice:
- The key to the rice is to cook it till it falls apart. Heat the oil and brown the whole garlic cloves without the skin. We remove them and add the water.
- Add the rice as soon as the water boils. Stir well, cover, and cook for 12-15 min or until the water is soaked up. After a time, stir with a fork so that the grains do not stick together.
- Add the vinegar and sugar to the beans and boil for another 15 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, you can uncover the pot to reduce the broth. Alternatively, you can transfer a part of the beans to a blender to thicken.
- Taste and add more salt if necessary (I add ½ teaspoon more). Divide the rice into 4 bowls and serve the beans on top.