Nothing’s Better Than A Homemade Kaya

By Tris Marlis - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013

If I can pack Singapore in a jar, it would be filled with Kaya— that spread made of coconut milk, egg, sugar, and scented with pandan leaves. It was during my years residing overseas when I realised the further you are away from Singapore, the harder it is to find a good jar of kaya. I missed the taste of home, so I decided to learn make my own. You can too.


The following recipe is from my mother who is an Indonesian Chinese. Typical of her countrymen, she prefers more intense fragrance and flavour of coconut milk in her kaya. She would caramelised white sugar, not only to give her kaya a darker colour, but also to give it a toasty flavour, like caramel popcorn.


Freshness is the key to making a delicious kaya. Fresh-squeezed coconut milk, fresh eggs and fresh-plucked pandan leaves are her general rules. However, if you can’t get fresh coconut milk, try Aroy-D canned coconut milk with a ‘good for dessert’ label as an alternative.


The caramelised sugar gives the kaya a nice light brown colour, like the ones with gula melaka.



1kg coconut milk

400g white sugar (set aside 100g for caramel)

10 egg yolks

4 pandan leaves, knotted



Mix egg yolk, coconut milk and sugar (300g) in a pot and whisk. Heat the mixture over low heat and keep stirring, slowly and gently.


Mix coconut milk, sugar and egg yolk in a pot, add pandan leaves and bring to boil.


Meanwhile, heat up a sauce pan, and melt the rest of sugar (100g). Keep stirring until it caramelizes. Make sure it doesn’t burn.

Pour the caramelised sugar into the first mixture and mix well. Maintain the flame at low heat. Keep stirring to prevent the sugar from settling at the bottom.

After about 30 minutes, the kaya should have a texture of sesame paste. Turn off the fire and set aside. It will further thicken once it’s cooled. After that, bottle and refrigerate.


In around 30 minutes over low low heat, the mixture will start to thicken and bubble. It’s ready!


Editor’s Note: The kaya, when kept refrigerated, should last for a month. But eat it while it’s fresh!