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How to Prepare Curacao’s Traditional Keshi Yena Dish at Home?

The Keshi Yena dish is a Curaçaoan (and Aruban) dish. This dish was born on the island of Curacao in the time of slavery in the 17th and 18th century.

It’s a typical example of a local dish, whose name in Papiamento literally means "stuffed cheese".

This is one of the most meaningful dishes on Curacao with leftovers from expensive products like Dutch Edam or Gouda cheese from the rich landlords. The slaves filled the shell of a scooped-out cheese with table scraps like chicken, olives and raisons.

You can actually fill the cheese with whatever you please; your favorite veggies or with leftovers if you are striving not to waste food. Create your own version of the Keshi Yena, or make one with scraps, like back in the days, to make it a Sustainable Dish.


The Keshi Yena is Avila’s most famous dish for decades. It is on the menu since the opening of our Belle Terrace restaurant in the fifties (now Restaurant The Pen).

Keshi Yena Recipe

Keshi Yena Recipe

1. For the chicken filling, rub with the juice of several limes:

  • 200 grams of chicken breasts
  • 200 grams of chicken thighs
  • season the breast and thighs with:
  • salt & pepper
  • poultry seasoning
  • minced onion

2. Let them stand for several hours.

3. Brown the chicken in three tablespoons of butter, then place it in a kettle with:

  • 1-quart water
  • 1 tsb. Salt
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves
  • 1 bay leaf, bruised

4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or just until chicken is tender

5. Strain and reserve the broth, discarding the vegetables

6. Debone chicken and set aside

7. Sauté in 2 tablespoons of butter:

  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced, or a few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • salt and pepper

8. Add and stir in well:

  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • ¼ cup pimento olives, sliced
  • ½ tablespoon capers
  • ¼ tablespoon piccalilli
  • and the chicken

9. Simmer until the tomatoes are reduced, about 20 minutes.

10. Remove from the fire and permit the mixture to cool.

11. Generously butter 4 soup cups with butter.

12. Cover the sides and bottom with sliced cheese.

13. Fill in the mixture and close off with a slice of cheese.

14. Put the soups cups in a pot, where the bottom is covered with water15. Put a lid on the pot and let steam for about 15 minutes.

Serve the Keshi Yena with rice, a few slices of plantain and steamed veggies to your choice.


Bon appetite!

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