When Julia , a former client, wrote to me one of these days asking for a recipe of Rice with Beans my mouth immediately grew water! Rice with Beans is actually a case of a long love affair for me.
This is a wonderful yet very simple recipe mainly eaten in Lisbon. Some people say that it were the African emigrants from our former colonies in Africa- Angola,Mozambique,Cape Verde, Guiné Bissau and São Tomé- who first introduced the recipe probably as far as 400 years ago. Both beans and rice were inexpensive items and mainly what there was to eat.
Rice with Beans nowadays is definitely a part of Lisbon’s gastronomy. It is used as a side dish for cod fritters (pataniscas or bolinhos de bacalhau) or for a Portuguese tempura style treat we call Peixinhos da Horta which is just green beans in a batter, deep fried. All of those are possible to find either in any restaurant in Lisbon or at any Portuguese home.
My home is no exception, so when Julia said she would like me to send her my own private recipe, I was so thrilled that besides emailing her the recipe I rushed into the kitchen and started cooking! The result was indeed fantastic and no main dish was needed as Rice with Beans is also quite filling on its own.
Want to try your own version? Here is a basic recipe; you let me know how it goes in your kitchen back home.
- 1 half onion chopped
- 1 clove of garlic chopped
- 1 can (250 grams) of boiled butter beans (or any another fleshy type)
- 2 table spoons tomato pulp or 2 ripe tomatoes cut into chunks
- Olive oil
- Handful of fresh coriander (or cilantro) stalks included
- 250g rice – can be risotto type rice (I use the can of the beans as a measurement)
- Some dried cumin (amount depends on taste)
- Salt to taste
Fry the onion and the garlic in olive oil (I use a lot, but I love olive oil) in a pan until golden.
Add the tomato pulp or tomatoes, salt and the dried cumin.
Add the rice and let it fry for 5 minutes while stirring.
Add the beans (also add the liquid it comes with in the can) and stir.
Add enough water to cover the mix and let it simmer until it softens, stirring once in a while.
When boiled, turn the heat off and add the chopped coriander and stir just before serving.