Congri is a Cuban rice & bean dish that is a staple in Cuban cooking. Although I am half Mexican, I grew up eating a lot more Cuban food because of my late grandfather, Pipo.
I am not Cuban myself, but I am very familiar with the food and culture! Congri is a dish that I grew up eating a lot. Pipo did all the cooking in our family and he was an AMAZING cook.
The recipe I am sharing today is Pipo’s recipe. Pipo taught my dad how to make it and my dad taught me! Which is truly amazing because my dad does not cook very often. He only knows how to make two Cuban rice dishes and maybe a pack of ramen.
Congri or Moros y Cristianos?
My family has called this dish congri my entire life. I didn’t even know there was another name that this is often debated to be called until I first posted this recipe to my TikTok a couple years ago. Many people commented that this isn’t congri, while others said it was, and some inbetween explained that it just depends where in Cuba you are from.
I think the later is the correct answer. It depends where you are from! To some, this is Moros y Cristianos (using black beans) and congri uses pinto or red beans. Pipo made it both ways and called them both congri.
Long grain rice – My family always uses Mahatma® Rice Jasmine White Rice for its fluffy texture & aroma
Black beans- Pipo always used dry beans, but you can use canned beans as well. The biggest difference is that the canned beans will not achieve a dark color for the rice, so if you want the rice to be dark you will need to use dry beans. Pipo also used pinto or red beans sometimes.
Aromatics- I’ve noticed that a lot of recipes call for sofrito, which is sautéed onions, garlic, peppers, and seasoning. Pipo only used onions and garlic, but you can add green bell peppers if you want. A couple bay leaves are also used when boiling the beans.
Bacon- a lot of the flavor in this dish will come from the bacon! Save the bacon oil to saute the onions and garlic.
Seasoning- all you really need is salt. I never saw Pipo use any other seasoning but some people add a little cumin and Mexican oregano.
Pipo was from Santiago de Cuba and swam to Florida on an innertube some time in the late 50’s. When he fled from Cuba he did not come alone, and he told us that a couple of his friends were eaten by sharks on the way here. Pipo’s story is incredible and I am so proud to be his grand daughter.
Pipo met my Abuela in Nebraska where they got married and moved to San Diego shortly after. He raised my dad and my Tio as his own children, then had two more with my Abuela.
I have so many fond memories of Pipo from my childhood- he was extremely involved in our lives and took us with him EVERYWHERE. He taught me how to swim, how to drive stick shift, and he is the only reason I can understand Cuban Spanish (they talk so fast, loud, and with a different accent). One of my deepest regrets is not learning how to cook from him. Te extrano mucho, Pipo.
Ramiro Castillo 1/16/?- 7/3/17
This recipe is kindly sponsored by Mahatma® Rice. I carry their products in my kitchen at all times, especially their jasmine rice!
Congri (Cuban Black Beans & Rice)
- 1 cup Mahatma® Rice Jasmine White Rice
- 5 oz dry black beans or 15 oz canned black beans
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 thick bacon strips
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 green bell pepper
- Soak the dry black beans in water over night. You may also use pinto beans.
- The next day, drain the water and give the beans a quick rinse. Add them to a pot with fresh water (about 5 cups) and bring it to a boil. Add the bay leaves and reduce to a gentle boil for about 1 hour uncovered. Add water as needed.
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- When the beans have been boiling for about 45 minutes, start frying the bacon.
- Remove the bacon and set it aside. Keep bacon oil in the pot.
- Saute the onions for 1-2 minutes. If you are using green bell pepper, add them at this time as well.
- Add the garlic & Mahatma® Rice Jasmine White Rice. Saute for another 1-2 minutes, making sure each grain of rice is coated in the bacon fat and turns golden & slightly puffy.
- The black beans are ready when the water is dark and thick like this and you're able to easily squish the beans between your fingers.
- Add the beans, bean water, & salt to the rice. I used about 1 tsp of salt. Add enough water to cover the rice by about an inch. You can add more water if needed. Note: if using cumin and Mexican oregano, add them now. If using canned black beans, add the entire can directly into the rice and an additional 1-2 cups of water.
- Cook over medium heat uncovered until enough water is absorbed/evaporates and there is a thin layer of water on top. Reduce the heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat then fold in the bacon pieces while fluffing the rice and releasing some steam.
- Best served with any Cuban meat dish and tostones (fried plantains).