Dutch Caribbean Gluten Free Savory Pie is a traditional #glutenfree savory cheese pie from Aruba & Curacao. It is an explosion of flavors with African, Dutch, Latin and Indonesian influences.
Bonbini! (welcome in Papiamento)
One of my pet peeves is when people lump all Caribbean food into one basket. Imagine saying all African food is the same when the foods of Kenya will be quite different from the foods of Ghana or saying all South American food is the same. Tell someone from Uruguay or Colombia that they eat the same food and they will think you quite ignorant and ill informed. When people think of Caribbean food, usually the first thoughts are Jerk Chicken and Rice & Peas or the Indo-Caribbean cuisine of Trinidad and Guyana which includes Curry, Dal & Buss Up Shot (Roti). However, the Caribbean is a diverse group of islands with different influences from the British, French, English, Spanish and Dutch depending which country colonized the island.
Since most migration from the Dutch islands occurs to the Netherlands, it is an under-represented cuisine and culture here in the United States. However, my family originates from this part of the world so here I bring you a little taste into the diversity of Dutch Caribbean Antillean Cuisine.
Before we get to the recipe, why don’t we learn a little bit about the Dutch Caribbean! Even though my Mom is from Aruba, I am going to focus today’s cultural lesson (sorry if I sound like a teacher) on Curacao where I have just as much family as I do in Aruba, since I speak about Aruba so often.
Dutch Caribbean History
Hearing the unique language of Papiamento (a patois language originating from the fusion of English, Spanish, Dutch, French and Portuguese) as you stroll the streets of Willemstad is a listening experience. If you speak Spanish, you will understand most of it but then there will be other words that will be totally foreign to you – the same if you speak Portuguese or Dutch. These three have the largest influences on the language. The difference languages are represented by just counting from 1-10 in Papiamento – Un, Dos, Tres, Kuater, Sinku, Sies, Shete, Ocho, Nuebe, Dies…
The island of Curacao is the largest of the Netherland Antilles and is a unique Caribbean island. One of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), the Dutch influence remains strong in its architecture, culture, language and cuisine. For a little bit of Europe in the Caribbean, Curacao is the island destination for you. Consider it for your next vacation!
There is something for everyone on the island of Curacao for relaxation, history and culture:
- Beautiful beaches don’t fail on this island, located outside of the hurricane belt
- In just an hour and a half, you can go to Caracas for a shopping spree and be back in Curacao for dinner
- The oldest synagogue in the Americas, a visit to Mikve Israel-Emanuel is a unique part of Curacao history
- The historic port city of Willemstad is a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Golf courses
- Scuba diving and snorkeling
Now let’s get to the recipe for Keshi Yena – Dutch Caribbean Gluten Free Savory Pie …..
As diverse as the language is the cuisine with influences from the Dutch, Spanish, Indonesia and Africa. Like Suriname, Aruba and Curacao were colonized by the the Dutch and the influences on the cuisine remain. Due to its proximity to Venezuela, Aruba is also influenced by Latin American cuisine. It is just as common to have Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) as it is to have Sancocho (hearty Latin American soup).
Today’s Keshi Yena is the national dish of both Aruba and Curacao. Keshi is the word for cheese and yena is the word for stuffed. This stuffed cheese is traditionally #glutenfree. You can think of it almost like a gluten free quiche or savory pie. Dutch Edam cheese is the only cheese that is ever used to make Keshi Yena.
Here is the perfect one pot meal if you are on a low carb diet although due to the amount of cheese, I can’t say the same for the fat content! However, it is usually eaten with cornbread. I’ve given the quantities to make 2 pies as I think this is the perfect dish to serve for parties. (Note: if you are Vegetarian, simply replace the ground meat with soya chunks)
Dutch Caribbean Recipes
- Pastechi – Dutch Caribbean Empanadas
- Panlevi – Sponge Cookies
- Tutu – Savory Cornmeal Porridge (Polenta)
It really is an explosion of flavors in your mouth. The filling is salty, sweet and spicy – all at the same time with the crusty top shell and the soft cheese at the bottom.
There are many variations to this dish. It is also often made with chicken or tuna and even rice is sometimes stuffed inside as well.
Although I think of it as the perfect carb free one pot meal, it can also be eaten with rice or bread. In Aruba and Curacoa, it is often served with our version of Cornbread – Pan Bati.
- 5 eggs
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes chopped
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons sweet relish
- 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
- 1 1/2 pounds Edam cheese
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 lbs. ground turkey chicken or tuna can also be used
- Heat oil. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and Scotch Bonnet. Saute until softened.
- Add meat and cook until meat is thoroughly cooked.
- Add tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, relish and Worcestershire. Simmer for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- In a small bowl, beat 4 of the eggs.
- Add to skillet and cook, tossing frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
- Add a generous sprinkling of black pepper and scant amount of salt.
- Add parsley. Stir to combine and cook for 1 more minute. Let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg.
- Grease 2 pie plates with butter.
- Place cheese slices along the bottom and sides of the dish, overlapping the slices, making sure there are no spaces.
- Place half of the filling inside.
- Cover with more cheese slices, again making sure there are no spaces.
- Brush the top liberally with the remaining egg to seal, especially at the edges.
- Repeat for the second pie plate.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
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