How to Recipe: Spanish/Cuban Arroz Amarillo con Frijol de Carita (Yellow Rice with Black Eyed Peas)

Posted: Apr 22 2014

The dish

Black eyed peas, which in Spanish many Cubans call them “Frijol de Carita”, or the Spanish call them “Alubias Carillas” are one of my favorite legumes. You can buy them dried at most grocery stores, or pre-cooked and frozen. I often stew them with meat, or like I do here inspired by the Cuban “Moros” (black beans cooked with rice) or “Congri” (red beans and rice) I steam them together with rice. This dish may be served as a main vegetarian course with fried plantains and a light salad dressed in olive oil, lemon or lime, and salt. If you’re a meat eater like me it makes a great side dish with stewed, grilled, or roasted meat and a side of vegetables.

In Cuban cuisine (which has both African and Spanish roots) one of the signature dishes is “Moros” (black beans and rice) or “Congri” (red beans and rice), both of these rice dishes share African roots in the sense that in West African cuisine you will find beans that have boiled to almost tender in water, and next raw rice is added along with a seasoning. The rice is ready to eat - when the rice absorbs the liquid and the beans are tender. This process marries the rice and beans together perfectly, something that has been adopted widely in the cuisine of Caribbean countries each adapting it to their local ingredients, and other influences. This dish however has both Spanish roots as well when it comes to the seasoning, the sofrito of garlic, onions, and bell peppers cooked in olive oil or many variations of these, oregano, etc.

In addition another category of rice dishes common in Cuban cuisine is “Arroz Amarillo”, which translates to yellow rice, which is common in both Cuban and Spanish Cuisine. The rice is usually cooked with the holy trinity of Cuban cooking: sofrito. The sofrito of garlic, onions, bell peppers, and colored with saffron or achiote (annatto seed) is cooked to achieve a golden color, and may be cooked alone, or cooked together with just about anything you can think of i.e. any combination of sausage, fish, shrimp, chicken, pork, vegetables, legumes, etc. Depending on what’s being cooked you can just make “Arroz Amarillo Con (Yellow Rice with) ____________(fill in the blank with ingredient) for example “Arroz Amarillo Con Chorizo” (yellow rice with sausage), or like I did here “Arroz Amarillo Con Frijol de Carita” (yellow rice with black eyed peas).


-1 lbs./ 3 cups white rice (washed well, drained, set aside)

-1 lbs./ 2 cups frozen pre-cooked black eyed peas (or cook your own black eyed peas by rinsing, soaking overnight, discarding water, and then boiling in fresh water 1-2 hrs until tender, drain, set aside, and save cooking liquid to use in place of water in this recipe)

-6 cups water

-1/4 cup more or less extra-virgin olive oil

-1 green or red bell pepper chopped

-1 onion chopped

-5 cloves garlic finely minced

-2 fresh chopped tomatoes or ½ cup tomato sauce

-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

-1 bay leaf

-1/2- 1 teaspoon “Bijol”/ ground achiote or Saffron or a packet of “Sazon Goya Con Azafran” or “Sazon Goya Culantro Con Achiote” to achieve the golden yellow color of the rice.


(1) Heat generous amounts of olive oil in a deep pan or pot. Sauté onions, bell peppers together with bay leaves until translucent for about 5 minutes. Next add garlic and sauté another 1 minute or so, until fragrant, then add the cumin and stir 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomato or tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a bubble until it reduces a bit and looks oily. Then add the black eyed peas and give the mixture a good stir.


(2) Add water or reserved liquid if you made black eyed peas from scratch and bring to a boil. If using frozen pre-cooked black eyed peas, allow them to boil for 15 minutes so they become more tender, if not then proceed to step 3.

(3) When the mixture comes to a rolling boil add the coloring, salt to taste, and rice.


(4) Bring the mixture back to a boil, give it a gentle stir, cover and lower heat to low. Allow to cook for 25 minutes on low. Turn off heat, remove from heat, let rest 5 minutes and it’s ready to serve. 

By Nathan Gutierrez
Nathan Gutierrez is 



Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing