Specialities and Street Food

Wondering about the good in Aruba?

With its borders containing so many diverse cultures, Aruban cuisine is an impressive amalgamation of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, English and native Aruban dishes. Traditional cuisine of Aruba includes dishes with goat meat, locally grown vegetables, fish, maize, beans, cilantro, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and coconut. The dishes break down into three distinct groups: hot (pica di papaya, a hot sauce made from green papayas); sweet (such as a coconut candy called cocada and bread pudding, also called pan bollo); and Dutch cheese (typically flavoured Gouda or sharp belegen kaas).

Keshi Yena: This classic Aruban dish is made in the shell of a scooped Edam (the thin rind remaining after the cheese has been eaten) and filled with chicken, onion, peppers, celery, olives, capers, tomatoes, raisins, and sometimes cashews. The filled shell is then baked in the oven or steamed.

Calco Stoba: Seafood stew prepared with conch, which unlike an oyster is firm and white and can be prepared in numerous ways. This stew is made with pounded conch meat rubbed with white wine vinegar and combined with onion, peppers, tomatoes, tobacco sauce and beef bouillon.

Funchi: A staple in Aruba and throughout much of the Caribbean. It is composed of cold water, corn meal, butter, salt and boiling water, then stirred vigorously until very stiff and served on a platter or shaped into balls.

Promenton Yena: Served as an appetiser or a main, this dish of stuffed peppers. The seeds and spines of bell peppers are scooped out then filled with a mix of cooked macaroni, diced celery, butter, garlic, salt, flour, milk, and shrimp (or any other meat). They are then sprinkled with cheese and baked in the oven.

Pastechi: Little pockets of fried, filled pastry that are popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The half-moon pastry is filled with a savoury filling like cheese, chicken, beef, or seafood seasoned with allspice, thyme, paprika, garlic and lime, folded into a turnover then deep fried.

Iguana Stew: Iguanas run absolutely rampant in Aruba. The locals make good use of them by boiling them in this hearty stew, which tastes surprisingly just like chicken soup.

Cactus: Thanks to its abundance in these prickly plants, Aruban cuisine has embraced the cactus. When fried, cactus takes on a nice juiciness. When added to soups and stews it tastes similar to okra.

Ayaka: A savoury tamale stuffed with stewed beef, green onions, capers and roughly chopped prunes then wrapped in banana leaves and tied with a string. Ayaka is usually served on holidays.