Roxana Jullapat's gallo pinto

Roxana Jullapat's gallo pinto


We asked our friend Roxana Jullapat – mastermind behind the beloved cookbook Mother Grains and LA’s bakery Friends & Family – to share her favorite recipe for Costa Rican rice and beans. 


Creator notes

In Costa Rica, where I grew up, this panfried rice and bean concoction is considered a national dish. Many Latin American countries have their own version, but I’m inclined to think gallo pinto is the best one. It’s traditionally served for breakfast with eggs sunny-side up, fried fresh cheese, and corn tortillas. In most households, it’s common to find beans simmering on the stove alongside a rice cooker filled to the brim. This way one can always make gallo pinto with just a moment’s notice. Starting from scratch is a longer cooking project, about 1 1⁄2 hours of total cooking time, but you can break it up in steps by making the beans a day or two ahead.

The recipe calls for white rice, but more health-conscious Costa Ricans use brown rice, as I do here. Take your time to prepare a well-seasoned sofrito. Just like mirepoix in classic French cooking, this blend of aromatic vegetables -onion, red bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic – is used as a flavorful base.

This recipe is ideal for entertaining and feeds 6 to 8 hungry guests. Not cooking for a crowd? Don’t worry; the leftovers keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator and reheat very well. Some even say gallo pinto tastes better the next day.

– Roxana Jullapat


Featured bean: Chaparro

Other beans to try:  Ayocote Morado

Take 'em from dried to cooked with our guide

Print recipe here



For the beans

  • 1 cup (200 grams) dried black beans
  • ½ yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 chile de árbol
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the rice

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups (400 grams) medium-grain brown rice
  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) water


1. Rinse the black beans in a colander and place in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, chile, and bay leaf and pour in enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until the beans are very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Season with the salt. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

2. For the rice, toast the cumin seeds in a small sauté pan over medium heat until they start releasing their assertive aroma. Let the seeds cool for a few minutes before you crush them to a powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pepper, cilantro, and garlic. Cook the vegetables until soft, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the ground cumin and salt. Add the rice and stir to mix the grains thoroughly with the sofrito. Add the water, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Cover with a lid and rest for 10 minutes.

4. Fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Stir in the black beans with 1 cup (240 ml) of their cooking liquid and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid reduces in volume almost completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Let sit for a few minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. To reheat, sauté in a pan until warm all the way through.

Reprinted from "Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution." Copyright © 2021 by Roxana Jullapat. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Louisiana-style smoky beans and rice with Primary Beans Speckled Bayo beans

Louisiana-style smoky beans and rice

Feast for the Future brothy beans

Feast for the Future brothy beans

Baby Butter beans with artichokes and swirled spring sauce

Baby Butter beans with artichokes and swirled spring sauce