This is an essential backbone of any Belizean meal, rice and beans.

Rice and Beans encapsulates everything that is wonderful about Belizean cuisine. Simple, low cost ingredients are raised to new heights by the skilful addition of spices and loving preparation. Each cook prepares theirs with just enough nuances to make each plate a little bit different.  Some people believe that you can even determine different personality types based on that person’s rice and beans. Mild mannered, aggressive, shy, saucy, robust or retiring, it can all be reflected in how they prepare this quintessential Belizean dish.

Therefore, I expect to hear some people saying, “Well, that’s close, but I add a li bit of…” or an outright, “Harrumph – that’s not how you make rice and beans!”

So, forewarned and forearmed, here’s one person’s simple take on this dish, and do feel free to experiment.

First, you make

The Beans:
1 pound/ ˝ kilo (2 cups or so) dry red kidney beans
3 – 6 cloves smashed and minced garlic
1-2 medium onion, chopped
1 pig’s tail, or pieces bacon or salt beef (I used three rashers of bacon or pieces of smoked ham, and sometimes use bacon bones. My butcher looks nervous when I ask for pig tails, so I gave up…
1 tsp salt
˝ tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup coconut milk (not lite – we want that fat content)

Place beans in a large pot and cover with cool water; soak overnight or 6 hours. Drain, add garlic, onion, and meat and boil until beans are tender. Add salt, pepper, thyme, and coconut. Stir and continue to let boil while preparing rice.

The Rice
41/2 cups white rice

Rinse the rice and add to the beans, stir, and then cover. Stir occasionally, cook until rice is tender.