Arroz con Frijoles Negro(Black beans and rice)

Arroz means rice in spanish and Frijoles Negro – refers to black beans. Beans and rice are the staples of Mexican cuisine, and black beans in particular is featured in a variety of Mexican dishes. It is not only tasty, but is key in providing nutrition in protein, fiber and antioxidants. This dish is a very common dish in Mexican cuisine, and most often served either as a side, or as a stuffing in a tortilla based dishes, suches as burritos, enchiladas, tacos, crostatas etc. Just like every Indian cook has their own way of making pulavs, the recipe for making this dish varies per household. I have picked the version where the rice is first cooked with a tomatoey broth and then stirred up with a flavorful mixture of beans, onions and peppers. This is completely adaptable and you can vary the complexity anywhere from breaking open a can of beans, rinsing it and just mixing it with rice. Thats a good arroz con frijoles negro too. :)

Ingredients:
4 cups white basmati rice
6 cups vegetable/chicken broth(I used bouillon cubes)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno(with seeds), finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp shredded cheese(optional, for serving)
salt and pepper, to taste

Method:
Soak the basmati rice in warm water for atleast 20 minutes or upto an hour. Place the rice, the broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, bay leaf and oregano along with salt to taste, in a heavy bottomed pan or in a rice cooker. I used the rice cooker, set the mode to white rice and let it cook until done and the grains are seperate. Fluff with a fork and remove to a large bowl.

While the rice cooks, heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and cook, until the peppers are cooked, but still crunchy. Add the black beans and a pinch of salt and cook until all the moisture evaporates. Sprinkle the lime juice and pour this mixture over the rice. Gently stir the beans into the rice, without breaking the grains. Stir the cilantro in and serve topped with cheese if using.

Verdict: The tangy tomatoey rice interspersed with the peppers and beans was a welcome change to the usual pulavs that we eat. The smell of the paprika and oregano gives it an authentic Mexican flavor, not to mention the jalapenos and the black beans. The beans also make it a very filling side to a meal.

Sending this to ‘A.W.E.D – Mexican’, event series by DK. Also sending it to ‘My Legume Love Affair – 36′, series concieved by Susan. And to, ‘One me: Two Ways – Tomato’, Cook it Healthy – Proteinicious

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