Congri (Cuban Black Beans & Rice)

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. 

Ingredients

  • 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. 

About Pipo

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)

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Optional ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 green bell pepper

Instructions
 

  • 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).
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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. CaribeAzul

    5 stars
    The name Moros y Cristianos was given to this dish because of the mixture of the morish culture (black beans) from southern Spain, and the Christian culture (white rice) from northern Spain. That was the Reconquista war in Spain while the two cultures were melting. After all, the Moors were in Spain for 700 years. According to Fernando Ortiz, famous Cuban historian, “Congrí is a name from Haiti where the black or red beans are known as congo and the rice is riz, from the French. Congrí comes from the voice of the Haitian creole which means “congos with rice”.

  2. Anonymous

    5 stars
    Hi, My Abuela, is from Camaguey Cuba and my whole life It was also called Congri. In my home it is only ever made with black beans. I didn’t know they had another name until I went with some Cuban friends of mine to a few different restaurants, and I saw it on the menu. I don’t think it has anything to do with the beans used, I think it’s more of what part of Cuba and their slang. The only people I myself have ever heard debate this were from Havana Cuba. My abuela told me that arroz blanco and frijoles negro were Moros and Cristianos and Congri is when they are cooked together, and the rice is cooked absorbing color from the beans.

  3. Melanie C

    5 stars
    Made it last night. So good!!!

  4. Gustavo Albear

    5 stars
    Chevere!

Leave a Reply to Melanie C Cancel reply

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