Curacao’s National Chicken Dish

Featured Article,Food and Travel,International Food
August 8, 2011

The national dish of tropical Curacao is surprisingly simple to make for a quick weeknight dinner.

Keshi Yena
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

Bon Bini! That’s welcome in Papiamento, the official language of Curacao, one of the Netherlands Antilles islands. Like Papiamento (a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Arawack Indian and other languages), the architecture, people and food of Curacao exemplify a melting pot of cultures.

The island’s Dutch and African influences are seen in the native dish called Keshi Yena (pronounced kay-shee YAY-na), which literally means “stuffed cheese.” Legend has it that the Dutch rulers of the island would throw away their hollowed out cheese rinds. The African slaves would take rinds, fill them with fish or meat, and boil them. Today the dish is made in ramekins lined  with cheese (edam or gouda) and filled with a meat mixture. The most common is chicken. It’s easy and tasty. Give it a try.

—By Jill Melton, Relish Editor

keshi yena

Keshi Yena (Chicken Stuffed Cheese)

An unusual and delicious way to use leftover roast chicken.


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