“Christians and Moors” (Black Beans and Rice)

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

“Cristianos y Moros” refers to the white and black colors of the dish, which relate to the skin colors of the Christians and Moors in history and legend.

NotesLike arroz con gandules, black beans and rice abound in Latin American kitchens. The eating of legumes and rice together is nutritious whether or not you eat meat, as the bean/rice combination replaces the complete protein missing in diets with little or no meat. How fortunate that beans and rice are so great together, as well as being so healthy!

Serves4 to 6



Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course, side dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, healthy, high fiber, kosher, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low-fat, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes




  • 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
  • ½ cup sofrito (below)
  • 2 quarts plus 2½ cups water
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or achiote oil
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons annatto seeds (available in Latin American groceries)
  • 1/3 cup achiote oil (see above)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, cloves crushed and peeled
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf, finely crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the black beans with enough water to cover by 1 inch; bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let stand for 1 hour. (Or soak the beans overnight in a large bowl with enough cold water to cover by 3 inches.) Drain well.

  2. Make the achiote oil: In a small saucepan, cook the oil and annatto seeds over low heat just until the mixture turns bright red, about 4 minutes. Do not let the mixture get too hot and overcook—it will go past the dark red stage and lighten in color and decrease in flavor. Longer steeping does not mean better flavor in this case, so it is best to underestimate your cooking time. Strain the achiote oil into a small jar, discarding the seeds. Cool completely, cover, and store indefinitely in the refrigerator.

  3. Make the sofrito: Heat the 1/3 cup achiote oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, oregano, cumin, salt, and bay leaf. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until well softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Cool completely, transfer to a small jar or bowl, cover, and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

  4. In a large saucepan, cook the sofrito over medium-high heat, stirring often, until sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the drained beans, 2 quarts water, and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover tightly, and cook until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes. (If the beans are soupy, increase the heat to medium-high and uncover the pan. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has reduced to the desired consistency.) Stir in ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.

  5. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 2½ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice and butter, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, covered tightly, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

  6. Serve the black beans and rice together as a side dish. Spoon out each serving of rice and top it with black beans.

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