Caribbean Rice and Beans is a dish that is mainly eaten on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua distinguishes itself from the rest of the country in several notable ways. The majority languages are English and Creole rather than Spanish, and the residing population traces their ancestry back to Native American groups, escaped African slaves, the infamous pirates of the Caribbean, and a small number of other English speaking seafarers. The Spanish conquerors avoided the Atlantic region, partly due to the thick forest that shelters it from western and central Nicaragua and partly due to the alliance that existed between the British crown and local Amerindian groups.
Along this coast, the emblematic Nicaraguan dish gallo pinto is simply known as Rice & Beans and is fried in coconut oil from the ever-present palm trees that thrives along the salty beaches. In some families, the dish is also simmered in coconut milk.
Caribbean Rice and Beans Ingredients
- 1 lb (450 grams) of fresh or soaked red beans
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 10 sprigs of fresh or frozen cilantro / coriander
- 1 onion
- ½ sweet pepper
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to fry the rice
- 2 cups of uncooked white rice
- 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
How to make Caribbean rice and beans
- Rinse the fresh or soaked beans well.
- Place the beans in a pot and add fresh water until the surface is roughly 2.5 cm or 1 inch above the beans.
- Add salt now if you like beans with hard shells; wait until later if you prefer them softer.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and leave the beans to simmer. (Cover the pot with a lid.)
- While waiting for the beans to be ready, chop cilantro, onion and sweet pepper into very small pieces.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of coconut oil into a big frying pan.
- Heat up the oil before placing the dry, uncooked rice in the pan. Sauté the rice for two minutes over medium high heat. Be careful not to burn it. If you don’t fry the rice before cooking it, it can easily become really mushy – almost like porridge – when mixed with the other ingredients.
- Add the cilantro, sweet pepper and ½ of the onion to the pan and continue to sauté for two more minutes.
- Pour chicken broth into the pan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat under the frying pan and put on a lid. Leave to simmer until the rice is tender. (This will normally take roughly half an hour.)
- Add the boiled beans to the pan together with the other half of the chopped onion.
- Taste to see if you wish to add more salt.
- Add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and fry the dish for a few minutes.
You can add more flavor to this this by letting it simmer in coconut milk. Read our guide on how to make your own coconut milk from coconuts using the same recipe that many women use along the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.