This recipe for Pandan Kaya Coconut Jam is a delicious and aromatic Southeast Asian condiment made with coconut, fragrant pandan leaves, eggs and sugar. Enjoy the aromatic spread on toast for breakfast.
When I was young, I had my fair share of peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
But luckily, my parents introduced me to foods that they grew up with, and thus, I became familiar with those tastes and flavours. One of those foods was kaya, also known as coconut jam/spread.
Rich, sweet, and delicious, I always knew kaya came from a tin can.
We lived in a small white town where access to Asian foods, were impossible to come by. The only way we would get cans of kaya was whenever my parents took a trip into Vancouver’s Chinatown.
What is kaya?
Kaya in the Malay language means “rich,” with reference to the texture of the coconut jam.
It is thick and custard-like, similar to a “khoya,” which may have been influenced from the Southern Indians trading with the Malays back in the day.
When I realized that the brightly orange-coloured kaya that came from the tin cans contained artificial colours and preservatives, I thought of how I could make it at home from real, whole ingredients.
Ingredients you’ll need
This Pandan Kaya Coconut Jam contains only 4 whole ingredients:
- coconut milk: I find it’s best to use canned coconut milk rather than the coconut milk in the cartons. This is because it tends to more pure (less additives) and much more richer in taste.
- whole eggs: large whole eggs
- granulated sugar: if you wanted more coconut flavour, you can use coconut sugar, but beware that it will darken the kaya jam to a brown colour
- pandan (screwpine) leaf: is an aromatic flavouring that is common in Southeast Asian cuisine. The pandan leaf has a grassy yet vanilla-like flavour. It’s used in my Pandan Cold Brew Coffee.
You can find pandan (screwpine) leaf usually frozen in Asian supermarkets.
If you don’t have access to pandan leaf, you may be able to find pandan extract which comes in a small tube or pandan leaf powder, which will work perfectly fine.
How to make it
Blend the pandan leaf together with the coconut milk, and then strain out the pandan leaf.
Then, similar to making a custard, beat the eggs and sugar together.
Next, add the pandan-coconut milk to the egg mixture and thicken over a double-boiler/bain marie over low heat.
It’s important to take your time here, or the eggs will curdle.
Note: If the eggs curdle, it’s OK — just place the mixture into a blender and whiz until smooth.
How to serve & store
Serve kaya coconut jam as a condiment spread on bread or toast, usually as part of breakfast.
Store kaya jam in a clean sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Do not store the jam at room temperature.
I don’t recommend freezing the kaya coconut jam.
Tips & troubleshooting
If the kaya jam curdles, don’t panic.
Just transfer the mixture to a blender and blitz on high speed.
It will smooth out the mixture.
- Nyonya, which is green in colour.
- Hainanese which is darker brown in colour and often sweetened with honey.
- In the Philippines, it is known as matamís sa báo, but does not contain eggs and is less thick in texture.
- In Thailand, it is known as sangkhaya.
The colour variation depends on the number of eggs, the caramelization of the sugar, and the amount of pandan leaf used.
This version of kaya is the Nyonya-style one which gets its aromatic fragrance and natural green colour from pandan leaf.
Other pandan recipes you may like
If you’re looking to change up your breakfast condiment selection from the everyday jams and jellies, try this Kaya Pandan Coconut Jam.
It will certainly transport you to the tropics with its flavourful, rich and sweet taste.
Let me know if you try my recipe — tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below.
Kaya Pandan Coconut Jam
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 4-5 pandan leaves screwpine*
- 180 ml coconut milk canned
- 4 large eggs
- 100 g granulated cane sugar or coconut sugar, increase by a little as coconut sugar is less sweet
- Place pandan leaves in a food processor or heavy-duty blender.
- Add in the coconut milk and blend for a few minutes until the pandan leaves are pureed finely.
- Pour the blended pandan-infused coconut milk over a sieve and into a large bowl. The pandan leaf pulp will remain – be sure to press firmly with the back of a spoon to extract all the coconut milk. Discard the pandan pulp.
- In a separate heat-proof bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar, until frothy.
- Add in the pandan-infused coconut milk to the eggs and sugar.
- Create a bain-marie (double-boiler) by pouring some water into a pot (slightly larger than the heat-proof bowl) and heating it over low-medium heat. (Check to see if your heat-proof bowl can sit on top of the pot without any water touching the bottom of the bowl).
- When the water comes to a slight simmer, place the bowl with the coconut milk and eggs over it and gently whisk for 10-15 minutes, ensuring no water escapes from the bottom pot. It’s important to keep a low simmer or else the eggs can curdle quickly. **
- Transfer the kaya into a clean, sterile jar and let cool. Store kaya jam in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.