How to make abuela's moros y cristianos

When I read a piece on about writer Violet Séverine Blanchard's first food memory of making her great grandmother's arroz con pollo, I started to remember my own culinary adventures with my family.

I grew up in a little bit of an a-typical household. My father is Cuban while my mother is Russian. But she learned early on how to cook great Cuban food from my abuelita and I followed in her footsteps, learning to make a lot of classics as a child and even now as an adult.

One of my favorite dishes was always one that I knew as congri, made of white rice and black beans that are cooked together. I later found out that the dish is actually called moros y cristianos but Cubans in Miami and Havana call it congri. Don't ask me why, all I know is that it's a delicious and easy meal to make. When I have my own kids, I want to teach them the same way my mother and grandmother taught me. Here's my abuelitas secret recipe:


Abuela's moros y cristianos (a.k.a. congri)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of white rice (or brown, which I've now switched to because I want to make it a little healthier)
1 cup black beans, cooked and drained
3 cups of water
Adobo, to taste
1 bay leaf

Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and heat. Put in your chopped onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add in the chopped pepper for another 5 minutes, then add in your garlic and rice. Mix together thoroughly, until all of the rice is coated in oil. Add in the black beans, water and seasoning to taste. Bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then, lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook until the rice is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Check the mix occasionally, stir and add the bay leaf about halfway through. Once done, serve with another Latino classic, like ropa vieja or fried fish.

Do you make a lot of your grandmother's favorite dishes? How do they come out? What is your favorite?

Image via Gerald's World/flickr