Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is a culinary dream destination for the whole family, located less than 20 minutes away from Queen Beatrix International Airport, Aruba. During my visit to Aruba, I had the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine and learn cooking techniques from the chefs at Aruba Marriott.
During the third day of my trip, my group and I met with Executive Chef Ever de Peña the resort’s La Vista restaurant and learned how to make a local favorite dish, Keshi Yena. Keshi Yena is a traditional Aruban and Curaçaoan dish made with chicken, vegetables, and spices stuffed in melted Gouda cheese. A perfect dish to make as a family, where the children can choose the ingredients, and mix everything together.
What are some tips for recreating the dish at home?
The dish is fairly easy to make at home as well. The fun thing about recreating the dish is that you can be as creative as you’d like, and experiment with different spices, meats, and vegetables to put your own personal spin on the classic dish. Instead of chicken, try beef or turkey, or swap the Gouda for another creamy cheese.
What does the dish mean to you?
To me, the dish makes me think of the island’s ancestors. It’s a traditional dish that’s been made for years and years, one that kids grow up eating and have memories of their grandmothers making. It’s filled with love and tradition.
How could the dish be altered for someone who has food allergies/vegetarian? Any unique substitute ingredients?
That’s the beauty of the dish, you can really customize it to accommodate most allergies or dietary restrictions. Vegetarians can omit the chicken and use potatoes, zucchini, or eggplant as other supplements to fill out the dish.
What other Aruban dishes do you love?
Funchi is one of my favorites. It’s a corn meal-based dish and is great when paired with a crab salad, pica di papaya, mayo, and cilantro. I also can’t pass up goat stew, it’s a local favorite!
For the full recipe for Keshi Yena, courtesy of Chef Peña, please visit eastendtaste.com/aruba-marriott/ and share your cooking tips and trials with #EastEndTaste.