I am a kaya snob. We have been spoiled by our grandmothers, aunties and mothers that we only enjoy homemade kaya. Every family has their own version of homemade kaya, some thick, some runny, some yellow, some brown caramel-ish, some pandan green-ish.

It is strange that kaya is only popular on this side of island. My husband from Java has never tried it before until he moved here. I asked him what they have with their toast. He looked at me with a blank face. He doesn’t get it.

Our method of making kaya results in runny, yellow-to-brown hue spread, minus the grain. I remembered my kaya making sessions to be painful ones. I was on my feet for hours only to see the whole batch gone to the bin. It was better that way than to get the frown from people who were coming over for breakfast. When I finally got it right, it was very rewarding to see every drop gone in the matter of hours. The downside is that I am becoming more of a snob. Our kaya needs to be smoothly grainless and almost transparent, a little on the yellow-ish brown color. Without refrigeration, the spread needs to be consumed within days.

Only three ingredients are needed. Egg yolks, coconut milk and castor sugar. The quality of the kaya depends on the quality of coconut milk and egg yolks. The more intense colored yolks will result in beautiful golden colored kaya. The red yolks are usually from organic egg. The coconut milk used usually are from freshly squeezed coconut. Prepackaged coconut milk can be used as substitute. I have no experience using powdered instant form of coconut milk, so I can’t say much about it.

Combine them all in a mixing bowl.

Carefully whisk the custard till all sugar dissolved.

Strain the custard using a fine strainer to remove any impurities and move it to a stainless pot.

Set the custard in a bigger stockpot filled with water, about 1/4 of the pot. Set the heat on medium. Stir the custard continuously and scrap the bottom of the pot to avoid crystalized sugar. Do this for 15-20 minutes.

Wrap the cover of the pot with a clean and dry kitchen towel. Keep the custard covered and lower heat so the water of the bain marie is just simmering. Stir for about 1 minute and cover for 15 minutes. Do this three times, about 45 minutes in total. Make sure no water is dropping into the kaya.

This is what it looks like after 30 minutes.

At the end of the 45 minutes, You can run your finger on the ladle and the kaya won’t mix. It’s done.

Let cool and transfer to a dry and clean container.

The kaya can keep for up to 3 days unrefrigerated and about one week if refrigerated.

Srikaya, Kaya (Coconut Jam)


350 ml coconut thick coconut milk
2 egg yolks
150 g sugar


Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Slowly whisk till all ingredients mixed well and the sugar dissolve.
Strain the kaya custard into another clean bowl and discard of the impurities.
Set up a bain-marie or a medium sized stainless pot with 1/4 of water. Turn on the medium heat to warm the water.
Pour the custard into a smaller stainless pot that fit into the water filled pot.
Carefully place the pot into the heating water pot.
Stir slowly and continuously for 15-20 minutes. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat a little bit so the water is just simmering.
Take care not to let the water get into the cooking custard.
Wrap the pot cover with a kitchen towel. Cover the pot and lower the heat some more.
Open the cover once every 15 minutes and stir for a minute and put back the cover. Do this for 45 minutes, about three to four times opening the cover and stirring.
When the kaya is done, it would be slightly thick but still running. Let the jam cover a ladle and run a finger through. If the jam doesn't mix together, the kaya is done.