Kaya (meaning rich in Malay) jam is my absolute favorite. My girls’ too. We only like my dad’s homemade pandan kaya and no other. Just like its moniker, kaya is rich in eggs, santan (coconut milk) and sugar. Kaya jams sold commercially are too cloy for our liking as they are all loaded with sugar, preservative and food additives. Once you’ve tasted homemade kaya, you wouldn’t want to buy store-bought ones.
Since my parents won’t be coming to visit us any time soon as they will be on a cruise from Taiwan to Japan next month, I figured I better get my arse moving and make some kaya for us until we get my dad’s pandan kaya supply in a few months’ time. Alycia is gaga over kaya toast. She can eat it every single day and even orders it when we are at our regular coffee shop. She loves those kaya on white toast sold at Chinese coffee shops, which I don’t fancy coz white bread has almost zero nutrients. And have you seen how much margarine they slab on the toast? Gawd, I can almost feel my arteries clog looking at the amount of margarine.
So yesterday I bought a small packet of fresh santan from my regular fruits and meat supplier on van. Unplanned. I bought it since he had one last packet left (he does not always sell santan) and I thought that if I had no time to make kaya, I’ll just drink it neat! I love santan and all the edible parts of the coconut.
When Drama Queen was back from school, after lunch and after her shower, we only had 45 minutes to spare before the Mandarin tutor arrived. She volunteered to cook the kaya. I said NO but she kept assuring me that we would have enough time. She always has a positive mindset.
It’s very easy to make smooth and creamy kaya IF only you know the tricks. Also get ready to have a good workout on your hands as you will be standing at the stove stirring continuously.
For the basic kaya, all you need are eggs, fresh santan (coconut milk) and sugar. You can add pandan juice if you wish. As we only had 45 minutes to do and did it in such a rush, I could only use pandan leaves, knotted and thrown into the pot with the 3 ingredients. My dad uses fresh pandan juice. There are recipes for pumpkin kaya, taro kaya, caramel kaya and much more.
Measurement – same volume for all 3 items but you can reduce the sugar. For eg, if you have 200ml of santan, your eggs and sugar have to be 200ml too. But the sugar can be reduced. We always reduce our sugar.
For my kaya yesterday, I used 1 small packet of santan (1 coconut), 4 eggs and about 3-4 tablespoons of organic brown sugar. Mix all the ingredients well with a whisk in a pot or bowl.
Whilst waiting for the water to boil in the wok, I cooked the mixture in a smaller pot at medium – high heat on the stove. Then transferred the smaller pot into the wok when the water started to boil. Then I left the stirring to Drama Queen, UNSUPERVISED for about 20 minutes while I attended to Cass who was in the bathroom.
Below – initially the mixture still looked smooth and nice until….
When I came back to the kitchen about 20 minutes later, I was shocked to see what the kaya had turned into!! FUDGE!! It had turned into kaya omelette! Steamed kaya with minced meat! Such was the consistency. I was so disappointed. I couldn’t blame it all on Drama Queen as I had not given her specific instruction on how high / low the flame should be. She could have turned the flame to the highest point when she saw that the mixture wasn’t thickening like it should. But I wasn’t there to supervise her. My bad.
Lesson learnt – never ever attempt to cook anything when in a rush and leave it to an 11-year old to help you take charge.
Drama Queen remarked dramatically when she saw the ‘kaya omelette’ —“Our kaya is an EPIC FAILURE!!”
I almost wanted to bin the kaya but after calling my mum to discuss on the ways to save the kaya, we came up with the idea of blending it. Thank God for the blender, the kaya went through an aesthetic transformation and came out beautifully, as if it were cooked by a pro kaya maker!
With just a few pulses in the blender, my pandan kaya had a major transformation. It tastes heavenly, smooth and so full bodied.
In under 45 minutes, we managed to make one bottle of yummy pandan kaya. I am glad that Drama Queen persuaded me to make the kaya despite having so little time on hand, helped to cook it and I took the effort to salvage it. We will definitely be churning out more pandan kaya soon!