Diri ak Pwa (Red Beans & Rice)


In response to yesterday’s post (“This Is the Way We Do It“), I received a request from one of our supporting pastors for two recipes. One was for our traditional rice and beans (diri ak pwa). The other was for Chicken with Creole Sauce. Today, I’m posting the recette (recipe) for rice and beans. Further ahead stay tuned for the makings of the Creole sauce. Bon appétit!

DIRI ak PWA (Red Beans and Rice) – Serves 6

  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 3 tablespoons lard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 cups water

In a large sieve or colander wash the beans under running water until the draining water runs clear. Transfer them to a heavy 3- to -4 quart saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and ground pepper, and pour in 6 cups of water. Bring it to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low, and simmer partially covered for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender but still intact. Drain in a sieve set over a deep bowl and put the beans aside. Measure the cooking liquid and add enough water to make 4 cups.

In a heavy 2 1/2- to 3 quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the lard over moderate heat. When it is very hot but not smoking, add the rice and stir for 1 or 2 minutes, until the grains turn somewhat milky and opaque.

Stir in the 4 cups of reserved liquid and water, the remaining teaspoon of salt and ground pepper to taste, cover tightly, and reduce the heat to the lowest possible point. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Taste for seasoning and set aside off the heat, partially covered to keep the rice warm.

Working quickly, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of lard in a heavy 8- to 10-inch skillet. Drop in the beans and stir until they are heated through. Watch carefully for any sign of burning and regulate the heat accordingly.

Fluff the rice with a fork, mount it on a heated platter, and surround it or top it with beans. Serve at once.


When our cook, Marie, makes rice and beans, she uses olive oil to replace of the lard or vegetable oil which is mostly used here in Haiti. It’s much healthier and doesn’t affect the taste.

Also, when she’s frying the beans, she mixes in garlic, onions, and sometimes green pepper along with a chicken bouillon cube to accentuate the taste. Often, she scoops some of the beans into a little dish and brings them to me as a treat. She knows I love fried beans!

Another variation: Instead of serving the rice with the beans on top, Marie pours the uncooked rice into the beans and reserved liquid from the beans and cooks them together. Personally, we feel this is tastier than the other way.

Finally, this recipe does not include the jirof (cloves) that I mentioned in the last article. Marie puts a small handful (enough to cover the inner palm of your hand) into the rice and beans as they are cooking together.

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