Moro de Habichuelas: discover this traditional Dominican meal

brown rice

Located on the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago, Dominican Republic is one of the many beautiful central-American countries that enjoys a delicious culinary tradition.


With a long and varied history, together with Taíno, Middle-Eastern and African influences, Dominican cuisine is unlike any other. Each of the cultures that influence this country has been taken and embraced into their heterogeneous cuisine style.

A legacy brought by Spaniards

The Dominican Republic was occupied by Spain from 1492 until 1821, and these long years have left a powerful impact on Dominicans’ lives. The Spanish introduced Mediterranean dishes as well as middle eastern, Moorish, ones. They’ve brought with them new animal species like pigs and goats, which became a staple ingredient that can be found in almost any Dominican meal. When it comes to the influence on dishes, we think of La Bandera which is made of rice, beans and meat with a side of salad; Sancocho meat stew; rice pudding, or even Quesillo, a coconut flan-like dessert.

We’ve also mentioned middle-eastern influence: Spaniards brought with them Moorish influences, but also many Arabs migrated to this beautiful country. A Lebanese dish present in Dominican cuisine is rice with raisins and almonds, typically eaten during Christmas celebrations; rice and noodles and Kippes, the Dominican version of a deep-fried bulgur roll filled with meat.

Taínos were the native people of the island. They’ve practiced different ways of growing their foods like cassava and yams, beans, squash and peanuts. They’ve hunted small animals for food like birds and lizards. As one can imagine, they’ve left a long-lasting impact on Dominicans’ way of cooking that is still present nowadays. Some Taíno recipes are Casabe, a yucca-based flatbread; pera piña, which is a rice and pineapple drink; guarapo de piña, fermented pineapple juice and guanimo, which is similar to tamales but with picadillo filling.

But what exactly is Moro de Habichuelas?

This staple dish is a combination of rice and beans that are cooked in the same pot, and the name moro (dark) comes from the black beans that are used to make it.

Together they are the perfect combination of flavors and they go perfectly well with all different kinds of proteins, no matter if they are animal or vegan, and also with many vegetables. It is a great source of vitamins such as vitamin A and C, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and proteins.

Since there is no other way to describe it, we recommend you try and make this recipe for red beans and rice!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups of rice.
  • 1 Cup of red or black beans, previously cooked.
  • 4 Cups of water.
  • 3 Oz. of bacon.
  • 1 Package of chicken seasoning.
  • 1 Teaspoon of tomato paste.
  • 1 Bay leaf.
  • 1 Garlic clove.
  • 1 Onion.
  • Capers to taste.

Instructions:

  1. First of all, you’ll need a cast-iron pot. Put your pot over high heat, and once it’s hot enough, fry your bacon until crisp. You may use a little bit of oil as a base, or let your bacon cook in its own grease.
  2. Remove the bacon from the pot but don’t drain it! use the remaining oils and flavor as the base for your Moro de Habichuelas.
  3. Add the chopped onion, garlic, bay leaf, tomato paste and chicken seasoning.
  4. Stir this mixture until the tomato paste is dissolved. Let it cook until the onion is golden but tender, and until your home is full of Dominican flavor.
  5. Add your cooked beans and cook for about two minutes. Add your rice and stir until fully combined. Cover this mixture with water.
  6. Let this boil uncovered. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat and let your Moro de Habichuelas simmer for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
  7. Cover it again, and cook for another fifteen minutes. The rice should be fully cooked by now, fluffy and full of flavor.
  8. Remove the bay leaf and plate it.

A green salad and your protein of choice go perfect with this dish. We suggest you eat it with stewed chicken or beef, but if you are vegan you can also add tofu or your favorite source of protein.

Most Dominicans also eat this with fried yucca or plantains.

Enjoy!

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