Kaya: Coconut Jam so Rich and Sweet, it’s Crazy!
The Hollywood blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians might have put Singapore in the limelight recently. But I would think it is our food that makes this country unforgettable to some. Come here and you will realize how easy it is to find international cuisines at different corners of our City State. Due to cultural similarities and history, we share many dishes with our neighbor Malaysia, and Kaya is one of them. It is a perennial favorite and a staple on our breakfast menu.
Go to a Kopitiam (local coffeeshop) and it is not difficult to find kaya toast served hot with a cup of coffee or tea and two soft boiled eggs. This set is not only enjoyed as a breakfast, it is good for afternoon tea as well, or even as a light meal. It’s no wonder you find coffee stalls in shopping malls filled with people any time of the day.
Kaya, to us, is like what dulce de leche is to South Americans. Both are sweet and used as a bread spreads, but the main difference is that Kaya uses coconut milk instead of milk. Kaya is surprisingly easy to make and the ingredients required are:
- 280 mL coconut milk or cream
- 210 g fine sugar
- 5 eggs
- 5–10 pandan leaves
- 1 tbsp water
Extract the juice from the pandan leaves using the more conventional method of mortar and pestle, adding the water into the pounded leaves. Sieve the pandan mixture and squeeze out the juice. (It will be easier to use slow juicer instead.)
Mix the coconut milk, sugar and pandan juice together and whisk the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the eggs gently and mix well.
Sieve the mixture into a cooking pot. Using a double boiling method (bain-marie), cook the mixture over medium heat, continuously whisking the mixture for 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken. (In order to make the pandan flavour and colour more intense, I have added more pandan leaves here.)
Turn to medium-low heat and cook for another 3 minutes, continuously whisking at the same time. Then reduce to low heat and let the mixture cook for approximately 1 hour, or until the desired consistency is achieved. For this part, cover the pot with a cloth-wrapped lid to prevent water from going back into the kaya.
If you are cooking the kaya with pandan leaves, sieve the mixture before letting it cool.
Spread the kaya on toasted bread and refrigerate the leftovers. The kaya should last for a week or so as it contains no added preservative or coloring. As a matter of fact, mine didn’t even last 3 days because it was so crazy delicious. Enjoy this rich and sweet spread!