Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nyonya Kaya (Coconut Jam)

Kaya (coconut jam) is a nyonya recipe that is quintessential in Singaporean breakfasts. (I will post more about the Singapore breakfast soon.) One of my grandmothers is part nyonya, which makes me a tiny bit nyonya, which I find really exciting, especially after watching the TV show 'The Little Nyonya'. The next thing you know, I will be making Sambal Udang and all these great nyonya recipes. (My grandmother makes the most awesome Sambal Udang I know, and I will go learn it!)

Kaya is extremely eggy and has a strong coconut flavor. While I am not a fan of coconut, I love kaya and kaya toasts. My favorite kaya is from Kiliney Road, and I've often smuggled bottles of their kaya across borders for friends in numerous countries (yup, not just one!). In fact, I think kaya is the most requested item when I ask people what they want from Singapore when I visit.

Kaya is yummy, and while the norm is to have the really smooth kaya, I prefer the kaya that is not as smooth, just as I like crunchy peanut butter to smooth. Well, to each his/her own. Go!

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 (3.5 fl. oz.) can coconut cream
  • 5 pandan (screwpine) leaves or 1 teaspoon pandan essence
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar

This shows the colors of the kaya as I cooked it.


  • Open the can of coconut cream without shaking it. The coconut cream usually floats on the top of the coconut water, and we don't want them mixing because we only want the coconut cream.
  • Using a spoon, spoon the coconut cream into a mixing bowl. (Coconut cream is thick and white. Coconut juice is whitish-transparent.) 
  • Add eggs, sugar and pandan leaves or pandan essence in a bowl. (I used pandan essence because I couldn't find pandan leaves.)
  • Mix this with a hand mixer until smooth, then strain it through a strainer into a metal bowl.
  • Place the metal bowl over water bath, and gently heat it, stirring often. This will take a long time.
  • The egg will slowly coagulate, and eventually turn into a thick paste. There may be lumps, but we will deal with that later.
  • When the mixture becomes pasty, remove the pandan leaves and let cool.
  • If you like a super smooth kaya, press the mixture through a sieve.
  • Keep kaya in a jar and enjoy!

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