Kaya (coconut jam) needs no introduction if you live in Singapore, Malaysia, or Indonesia. When spread lavishly onto crisply toasted, or softly moist, steamed slices of bread, it becomes a staple meal for breakfast, tea, or at any time of the day, whenever we feel inclined for a light, delicious snack. For Malaysians or Singaporeans, this sweet and creamy coconut jam or spread holds lots of memories. My mum used to make her own Kaya and spread it on my sandwiches that I took to school (a real treat!).
Kaya (a Malay word meaning ‘rich’) is essentially a coconut egg jam, and is widely eaten as a spread over slices of toasted bread, soft buns, and as a cake filling or topping. It has a smooth texture, and is creamy and rich tasting, which might explain its name. It’s made primarily with coconut milk and eggs, subtly flavoured with pandan leaves, and sweetened with sugar. The colour of kaya depends on the colour of the eggs, the amount of pandan, and the extent of caramelisation of the sugar. Nonya kaya is light green in colour, while Hainanese kaya uses caramelised sugar, is darker brown in colour, and often sweetened with honey.
It is time to treat myself again so I hunted down the best Kaya recipe. The deliciousness of this toasted bread with ‘kaya’ never disappoints. When trying out this recipe, remember not to have the heat on too high or the ‘kaya’ will curdle. My first Kaya turned out perfectly smooth! The trick to a smooth consistency is to keep stirring the mixture during the cooking process (took me 40 min). If it still turns out lumpy, blend the mixture after it is ready.
5 egg yolks
250 gram sugar
250 Coconut milk
3 Pandan leaves
1. Pour the mixture of coconut milk & sugar into a bowl placed on a pot of boiling water. The heat from the water will cook the mixed ingredients.
2. Add 3 pandan leaves into a knot
3. When all sugar is dissolved take out the placed bowl off the boiling water and add slowly the beaten egg yolks
4. Place the bowl back with medium/low heat and stir everything smooth
5. Keep stirring every 10 minutes to prevent mixture from getting lumpy.
6. Stir mixture until it is no longer runny.
7. Leave to cool. Keep in a clean sterilized bottle and refrigerate
8. Use it like jam and spread on toast with butter.
* Kaya’ can be kept for up to 2 weeks.
What is most appealing about making kaya yourself, is that you can use all natural ingredients, without preservatives, flavourings and colourings, and adjust the sweetness to your taste. So, why wait? Enjoy!