As far as cheap foods go, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do..."
Ok, so I'm not in Rome, but since I live in the Dominican Republic, the cheap food tends to be rice and beans (as in most parts of the world). I know that doesn't excite some people, but here, rice and beans are good. The first few years of living here, I have only succeeded at one Dominican dish- pastalon (casserole). My favorite pastalon is pastalon de platanos (Sweet plantains, ground beef- optional, and cheese). Lately, however, I have been more bold. Last week I made the typical rice with Dominican red beans. It actual tasted good- and Dominican. The secret? cilantro and tomato paste. Last night, I tried moro de guandules (rice cooked with pigeon peas). I asked one of the ladies who often cleans my house how to make it. I made it, and Daniel declared it a success! So, I thought I would share the recipe, as it is very cheap here:
Disclamer: I have absolutuley no idea of the amounts I put in, but I'll do my best:
-2-3 Cups pre-soaked guandules (they're somewhere between peas and beans)
-ajo (garlic- I used 2)
-cebolla (onion -I used 1/2)
-ajies verde (green banana peppers-I didn't have these at the time, so I left them out)
-cilantro (I used a handful of the tops of stems with the leaves attached)
-chicken cubes (I used two large cubes)
-salsa de tomate (tomato sauce- I used oh, a large spoonful, maybe)
-water (I think I used on the high end of 4 cups)
-arros (rice-I have no idea- do the spoon test: see below)
Put a little oil in a good size metal pot. Sautee the garlic, onion, pepper, and cilantro with some salt and pepper. (I don't know if this is exactly how Dominicans do it, but it seemed good to me). After a few minutes, add the chicken cubes and tomato sauce. Pour in the water and guandules. Bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the rice. Spoon test: add enough rice so that your spoon can stand up without falling over).
Boil for a little while. Then, when almost all the water is gone, put the lid on and leave it for about 20 minutes. (My metal put is handmade so the lid doesn't seal properly; therefore, I leave it on when I boil off the water, and put saran wrap underneath while it steams the rice for 20 min). After 20 minutes, it should be done!
I served this with pastalon (mashed sweet plantains, shredded cheese, another layer of plantain, and another layer of cheese; bake until cheese is golden) and Dominican salad (shredded cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, and tomato with a vinaigrette -super salty- dressing).