“Keshi yena” is a beloved traditional dish from Aruba that delights locals and visitors with its rich and creamy flavors. This hearty dish is a true reflection of Aruba’s cultural influences and showcases the island’s culinary heritage. Let’s dive into the details:
“Keshi yena” starts with a round of Gouda or Edam cheese, which serves as both the star ingredient and the serving vessel. The cheese is carefully hollowed out, creating a cheese bowl or casing that will hold the delicious filling. The inside of the cheese is often rubbed with tangy mustard or Worcestershire sauce, enhancing the flavor profile.
The filling is where the magic happens. Shredded or diced meat, such as tender chicken or succulent beef, is cooked to perfection, infusing it with savory goodness. The meat is combined with a medley of colorful vegetables like onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes, which add depth and texture to the dish. A harmonious blend of spices, including aromatic cumin, paprika, and black pepper, is added to enhance the flavors.
To elevate the taste, the filling is adorned with briny olives, plump raisins, and tangy capers, providing delightful bursts of flavor in every bite. The combination of sweet and savory ingredients creates a symphony of tastes that is both comforting and satisfying.
Once the filling is prepared, it is carefully spooned into the cheese casing, which is then covered with another layer of cheese to seal the dish. This creates a creamy, gooey interior that oozes with melted cheese when baked.
The “Keshi yena” is then baked in the oven until the cheese turns golden and bubbly, enveloping the flavorful filling in a velvety embrace. The aroma that wafts through the kitchen as it bakes is simply irresistible.
When it’s time to serve, “Keshi yena” is presented as the centerpiece of a meal. It is typically enjoyed as a main course, accompanied by fragrant rice, sweet and caramelized plantains, or a fresh salad to complement the richness of the dish.
Here’s a simple recipe to try making “Keshi yena” at home:
- 1 round of Gouda or Edam cheese (about 1 pound)
- 2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken or beef
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup sliced olives
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Mustard or Worcestershire sauce for coating the cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Carefully hollow out the cheese round, creating a bowl or casing, and set aside.
- In a pan, sauté the onion and bell pepper until they are softened and slightly golden.
- Add the cooked chicken or beef to the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, olives, raisins, capers, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Stir well to combine and let the flavors meld together for a few minutes.
- Rub the inside of the cheese casing with mustard or Worcestershire sauce for added flavor.
- Spoon the filling mixture into the cheese casing, ensuring it is evenly distributed. Cover the filling with another layer of cheese to seal the dish.
- Place the filled cheese casing on a baking sheet and