Congri or arroz moro is a favorite Cuban side dish that you’ll find at any Cuban restaurant. I have to admit I was a bit rusty making this quintessential Cuban recipe. Scroll to the bottom for the video!
Congri – A Typical Cuban Dish
They say that most Cubans know this recipe, made with black beans, as congri. When it’s made with small red beans, it’s known as Moros y Cristianos, or simply, arroz moro. However, natives of eastern Cuba say it the other way around. Because of this, there is much confusion on the name of the dish. I call it congri because that is the name I grew up with.
This Cuban black beans and rice recipe is typically made with pork, ham, and/or bacon. It is also often made using lard. My recipe creation contains none of these things and I went a step further and made it completely oil-free.
Because my recipe is vegan and oil-free, it is perfect for those following a vegan and whole foods plant-based diet.
Congri, or black beans and rice are a staple of any Cuban home. I’ve been eating this dish since I was a little girl and it was my absolute favorite growing up.
My grandmother used to make the best black beans and rice! Before she passed, I remember her teaching me the secrets to her delicious recipe and I could never get the rice to water ratio correctly. All my attempts resulted in a burned congri!
Now that I am older, married, with a lot of cooking experience under my belt, I have figured out how to make this dish in the simplest way possible, and without the possibility of burning.
The Electric Pressure Cooker
Enter the marvelous electric pressure cooker! Seriously, this is a lifesaver! It’s one of my most used kitchen appliances because it’s incredibly useful and versatile. I recommend this machine to every vegan out there.
An electric pressure cooker is invaluable for cooking dried beans and is my biggest reason for owning it. I honestly hate the taste of canned beans and in this recipe, using dried black beans is essential for getting the right water to rice ratio and obtaining that beautiful dark color typical of Cuban congri.
I have not yet tried making this recipe with other cooking methods like a stovetop pressure cooker or a regular pot. In the future, I plan on creating another version of this recipe for those who don’t own an electric pressure cooker.
Seems Complicated. It’s not!
There are two steps to this recipe. First, you have to cook the black beans, making sure to reserve the resulting black bean water for cooking the rice.
The second step is, of course, making the actual black beans and rice dish.
Although this recipe has many steps and may seem complicated at first glance, it’s actually very easy to make. Putting the dried black beans to cook takes under five minutes. The rest is inactive cooking time. Using an electric pressure cooker allows you to walk away from it until the beans are done and so you’re free to go about your other daily tasks as the beans soften.
Once the beans are done, you’ll spend another four or five minutes draining the beans and reserving the bean water.
After this step, you’re ready to cook the rice and beans and this recipe comes together so quickly. You’ll be making the sofrito, combining the rest of the ingredients in the pot, and then setting it to cook for just 5 minutes. After that, you’ll need to be patient and let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes. But again, most of the cooking process is inactive.
Congri: A Complete Meal
Congri is the perfect recipe for cooking in large batches for meal prepping. It refrigerates really well and should stay good for four or five days.
You can serve this alongside anything. Typical Cuban side dishes include tostones (fried green plantains), maduros (fried sweet plantains), yucca con mojo (cassava), and a simple salad of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados.
In the picture below I served it with my Cuban-seasoned baked tofu and a simple side salad.
Below you’ll find the step by step instructions and ingredients for making this favorite Cuban recipe. Let me know in the comments if you tried it!
Vegan Congri - Cuban Black Beans and Rice
- 1 cup dried black beans
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 onion, whole
- 1/4 green bell pepper, whole
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 cups water
Congri - Black Beans and Rice
- 2 cups white rice, long grain
- 1 cup cooked beans
- 2 cups reserved bean water
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon vegan chicken bouillon*
- 2 teaspoon dry white cooking wine
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar*
- 6 green olives
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
For Cooking Dried Black Beans
- In your electric pressure cooker, add dried beans, 1/4 of onion, whole, 1/4 of a green bell pepper, whole, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 a bay leaf, and 4 cups of water.
- Cook for 25 minutes.
- Release pressure and strain the black beans. Reserve 2 cups of the bean liquid!
For Cooking the Congri
- Set your electric pressure cooker to the sauté setting. Add some water for sautéing, followed by the diced onions and diced peppers. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Then add the garlic, dried, oregano, and ground cumin and cook for another few minutes until fragrant and translucent, adding more water for sautéing as needed.
- Add the rice, bean liquid, cooked beans, and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Cover and set pressure cooker for 5 minutes.
- Once it is done cooking, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, the rest of the pressure manually if needed and fluff with fork.
- Serve hot as a main dish or side dish.
- Let cool before storing in the refrigerator. Should keep for about 4 to 5 days.
- I used Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
- White vinegar will also work in this recipe
Yemi Guerrero says
Wow! What a delicious recipe! Perfectly Cuban and without the meat and oil! Thank you so much for sharing! I’ll be making this weekly!
Natalie G. says
Hi Yemi. Thanks! Let me know how you like it!
Any advice for making this with brown rice instead of white? Thanks for the amazing recipe!
Natalie G. says
Hi Amy, when I make brown rice in the instant pot I use a 1 to 1 ratio of water to rice and I cook it for 15 minutes. Although I have never tried it, I think the same quantities of ingredients and liquid should work with this recipe and switching out the white rice for brown rice. You may have to cook it for longer though. If you try it, let me know. 🙂
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