Kaya: a true Malaysian favourite

Kaya on toast with coffee makes a wonderful breakfast or tea-time treat. (Rasa Malaysia pic)

The mere mention of kaya can conjure up happy childhood memories for many Malaysians.

Spending time in the kitchen with parents and grandparents, sometimes helping to beat the eggs, coconut milk, and sugar mixture over a double boiler.

The result would be silky smooth, with the richest and freshest flavour. There are many colour variations – yellow, green or golden brown. The common golden-brown colour is the result of adding caramel towards the end of the process.

The texture varies too, sometimes runny and sometimes thicker, depending on the number of eggs used.

Traditional double-boiling is probably the best method to make kaya but, nowadays, many people skip the hours of double-boiling and “cook” it.

This recipe is quick and easy and takes about half an hour.

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 eggs
  • 200 g sugar
  • 120 ml coconut cream
  • 180 ml coconut milk
  • 3 pandan leaves, tied into a knot
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch + 1 1/2 tablespoons water

Caramel:

  • 50 g to 75 g sugar

Method

  • Crack the eggs into a big bowl and add the coconut cream, coconut milk, and sugar. Whisk well and filter with a strainer.
  • Transfer the egg mixture into a saucepan (preferably non-stick), add the pandan leaves and turn on the heat at medium low. Using a wooded spatula or a pair of wooden chopsticks, stir the mixture for about 20 minutes until cooked.
  • Add the corn starch mixture and continue stirring to thicken the kaya. Be sure to break up the lumps that form.
  • Heat up the sugar for the caramel in a saucepan until it melts. When it is golden brown in colour, stir it into the kaya and combine well. Turn off the heat.
  • Let the kaya cool down, discard the pandan leaves and transfer to a blender. Blend until it reaches a silky-smooth consistency without lumps.
  • Transfer the kaya to a jam bottle. It can be kept in the fridge for about a week.

Tips

  • Use fresh coconut cream and coconut milk if possible.
  • For a lighter colour, use 50 g sugar for the caramel.
  • For a richer kaya, use more eggs. The fewer eggs, the thinner the consistency. More eggs, up to five, makes it richer and thicker.

This recipe first appeared in Rasa Malaysia

Low Bee Yinn is a food blogger and cookbook author.