Friday, 1 August 2014

Satiny smooth Kaya (Coconut jam)

Whenever I am given a choice between American breakfast, Indian breakfast or Kopitiam (Chinese coffee shop), I would most often pick Kopitiam. Perhaps it reminds of my childhood - I was the dutiful daughter who would volunteer every time my mom needed a loaf of bread from the nearest Kopitiam. I would rush over to the Kopitiam and before I could place my order, the owner would have already began slicing a loaf for me. Sometimes he would offer to spread the crust with generous amount of kaya. That's how apparent my love for this custardy and velvety coconut jam was. Nothing else made me happier than chewing on the hard crust as I walked back home. 

There were no supermarkets nor Sundry stores that sold jam, butter or maple syrup in my neighbourhood then. Most of us grew up with local food. In my house it was either paratha, biskut tawar (cream crackers, though there was hardly any cream in it) or roti kaya (toast with margarine and kaya) and hot milky cha (tea).

Kaya was available every where. Every coffee shop carried their own store-made kaya. Amazingly it would taste the same in every shop as though it was supplied by one particular maker. But it was very hard to find anyone selling homemade kaya. The Kopitiam kept their supply for in-house patrons. 
Kaya & butter toast.

But it is different now and you can easily get Kaya. It's available in most bakeries but it does not taste anything like the Kaya I used to get. According to mom-in-law, these store bought Kaya has too much corn flour in them to give it some bulk. The only ingredients that are suppose to go into it are eggs, sugar, pandan leaf (optional) and santan (coconut mik), anything else is for a profit.


Basic ingredients to make a decent jar of Kaya

200 ml santan (coconut milk)
110 gm. sugar
2 large eggs (50gm each)
50 gm. sugar (for caramel)
1 fresh pandan leaf


Get your steamer ready (let the water heat up)

Beat eggs well and sieve into a stainless steel bowl.
Sieved eggs with 110gm sugar

Add sugar and mix well. Then add santan and transfer this bowl into the steamer, stirring the mixture over low heat. Keep doing this for 10 minutes. When the mixture starts thickening, throw in the pandan leaf.

In another pot, caramelise 50gm. sugar on low heat. Once sugar has caramelised (takes about 5-10 minutes), slowly and carefully pour it into the egg mixture, stirring at all times. Keep doing this (on low heat) until it has combined well.  

Cover the kaya and let it steam for about ten minutes. Stir after every five minutes. It will take on a darker shade and that's when its ready. Remove from heat and cover with a cloth for half hour or until it has completely cooled down. Don't use a plate or any cover that will prevent vapour/steam from escaping - this to avoid water from dripping back into the kaya.

The perfect shade for Kaya

Once it has cooled, transfer to a tight sealed jar and refrigerate. It can be kept for 2 weeks, that's if it can last that long. Mine usually finishes up in the first week because my kids use it on toast, cracker, pancake, steamed glutinous rice (pulut) and recently on lemang (a delicatessen available only during the month after Ramadan).
It's just like Marmite, you love it or hate it.
Freshly made Kaya ready to be stored in the refrigerator

A day old kaya, still smooth and luscious

For more recipes, please head over to my Recipes page

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  1. Oh my goodness, this looks AMAZING. I have a huge sweet tooth and coconut is one of my favorite flavors on Earth. Thank you for sharing your family recipe and the step by step tutorial with photos! I am pinning to make this at a later date.

    1. Thank you Jen. I am big fan of coconut too! Have you tried coconut tart?

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    1. Oh golly! I accidentally deleted your comment. Sorry but thanks for stopping over and leaving me a comment.