What is kaya?

Coconut jam or “Kaya” is a popular food spread available in many Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. In the past, people used to make their own Kaya with coconut milk, sugar, Pandan leaves (also known as Screwpine leaves) and eggs.

Kaya today is often commercially produced and can easily be found on shelves in supermarkets in Asia.

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Besides kaya, coconut can be made into many other delicacies. With nearly 450 recipes, you will be able to whip up all sorts of coconut-based food, such as coconut battered shrimp, coconut macaroons, chiffon pies, salad dressings, smoothies, and more.

Coconut Jam - KayaCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/istelleinad/5617985648/In Singapore, you can find Kaya and food made with Kaya almost everywhere. Many hawker centers and food courts offer Kaya on toast together with eggs and coffee as a breakfast set. There are entire food outlets that base their entire menu on Kaya and bread and its variations as well.

However, these commercially produced coconut jam tend to be loaded with preservatives and coloring and just do not taste as good as traditional Kaya. To have delicious Kaya, the only way is to make it yourself at home.


How to make Kaya

The easiest way to make Kaya is to use a bread machine with the jam making function. With such a bread machine, all you’ll have to do is to mix in the ingredients and let it do its work.

However, if you don’t have a bread machine or your bread machine does not have this function, this guide will show you how to make Kaya in these other ways too – using a slow cooker or a double boiler. Instructions to create a makeshift double boiler is available if you don’t have one.

Need a bread machine?

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This programmable breadmaker comes with the jam function so you can make kaya easily at home without sitting in front of the stove to make sure the kaya does not burn.

You will also need a blender to blend the kaya into a smooth consistency or you can do it manually by mashing the kaya through a metal sieve (not recommended unless because it takes too much effort!).

Ingredients for about 900g of Coconut Jam or Kaya

  • 550ml (18.6 oz) coconut cream
  • 10 eggs
  • 450g (1 lb) fine sugar
  • 10 pandan leaves (also known as screwpine leaves)

Make kaya with a bread machine (easiest way)

  1. Wash the pandan leaves and dry them on a cloth. Tie them into little bundles.
  2. Beat the eggs lightly so the egg whites and egg yolks are mixed together
  3. Pour the mixture and the rest of the ingredients into the breadmaker
  4. Set your breadmaker to the Jam making function
  5. Check on your kaya periodically to make sure the sides are mixed in
  6. When the breadmaker has done its work, remove the kaya and cool
  7. If your kaya is lumpy, put it into a blender and mix to a creamy consistency
  8. Store your kaya in a glass jar in the fridge

Make kaya with a slow cooker

Making kaya with a slow cooker can be done using similar steps.

  1. Wash and dry the pandan leaves then tie them into little bundles
  2. Beat eggs lightly
  3. Pour all ingredients into the slow cooker and switch it on
  4. Stir until all the sugar dissolves
  5. Cover the slow cooker and stir well every 30 minutes
  6. After 3 hours, your kaya will be ready to be removed
  7. Allow the kaya to cool
  8. If the kaya turns out lumpy, put it in a blender until it is a creamy consistency
  9. Store your kaya in a glass jar in the fridge

Make kaya with a double boiler

Some people claim that a double boiler makes the best tasting kaya. I haven’t tried tasting all my kaya side by side so I can’t tell. Using a double boiler prevents your kaya from burning.

  1. Like the above two methods, you need to wash your pandan leaves and tie them into little bundles.
  2. Put water in the double boiler and turn the heat to low.
  3. Crack eggs into double boiler and add in all the other ingredients
  4. Mix the ingredients well with a whisk
  5. The mixture has to be stirred for the next hour until it thickens
  6. Allow the kaya to cool
  7. If the kaya is lumpy, mix in a blender until creamy
  8. Store kaya in a glass jar in the fridge

Creating a makeshift double boiler:

A makeshift double boiler can be created with two pots, one bigger than the other. Simply fill smaller pot with some water and place the bigger pot on top so that it fits on the opening of the smaller pot. Cook your kaya in the pot on top using the instructions for a double boiler above.

What to eat kaya with

Kaya with Roti BomCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/4573123759/

Kaya goes well with a good variety of food, especially breads and pastries. Kaya is most commonly eaten with toast and egg but you can also spread it on pancakes and use it as a dip for cookies.

If you are up for more cooking, kaya can also be used in making cakes and various desserts.

In Cambodia, kaya is commonly eaten with pumpkin. A thick layer of kaya is spread on the pumpkin and the combination is enjoyed as very sweet dessert. In Thailand, kaya is eaten with glutinous rice.

Kaya can be used as a filling in different pastries too. There are even kaya cup cakes and muffins.

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