Moors and Christians – strange culinary bedfellows…

Question: Urgent! I am making Cuban black beans and rice and would like to know how to do it myself instead of using a mix. What would the spices be? Should I bake it after I mix up the cooked beans and cooked rice? Jake, Palm Springs

First, no baking required! This is a fun question, not just for the recipe, but the origins of the dish. The name refers to the eighth century wars between the invading Moors (blacks/Muslims) and Spaniards (white/Christians) in Cuba. Black beans are a staple in Cuban cooking and common throughout homes and restaurants all over the country. Generally this dish is served with the black beans served on top of white rice – ergo Black beans and rice = Moors & Christians. It is traditionally served with chopped onions for garnish, and vinegar on the rice, but often includes salsa, sour cream, grated cheese, chopped radishes, cilantro, and other fun goodies. Some recipes call for the rice to be cooked with the beans. I prefer the beans on top of the rice – the following recipe is for this method.


  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans  (you can substitute with canned black beans to speed-up the process – roughly 3:1 ratio for canned to dried)
  • 8 cups of water (omit the soaking process if using canned beans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 1/2 cups white onion, diced. (reserve ½ cup for garnishing)
  • 2 1/2 cups green peppers, seeded and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper  (to taste)
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups long-grain white rice
  • White wine vinegar


  1. Thoroughly wash and soak the dry black beans in 4 cups of water in a stock pot overnight. The following day, add the additional 4 cups of water and place pot over medium heat.
  2. While beans are beginning to heat, saute the onions, green peppers, and garlic lightly in the olive oil. Mix together all the ingredients except the white rice, vinegar and diced onions. Cover and cook on low heat 3-5 hours or until the beans are tender and the liquid has thickened.
  3. When beans are done, cook rice according to the package instructions. White rice normally takes about 15/20 minutes to cook once you get the water simmering. Let it sit at least 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Shorten the process a bit, substitute canned rinsed beans to shorten the long cooking time. Simply follow the recipe, but add the rinsed canned beans instead of the soaked beans, reduce the amount of water used to 4 cups and cook until liquid has thickened and the flavors are incorporated – about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve the beans over hot rice with plenty of vinegar on the rice, and raw chopped onions for garnishment. (add salsa, sour cream, cheese etc. according to preference.)

1 Response to “Moors and Christians – strange culinary bedfellows…”

  1. 1 askstanford
    February 9, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you!!!

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


February 2010
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