Kaya - coconut egg jam

(From http://www.makantime.com/kaya.htm)

By : Chia Jin Ngee

This recipe is from my grandma from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. She is still alive and well. Makes this really good kaya (egg jam) that is without any coloring or artificial stuff that those sold in jars. It is also very simple but requires lotsa skill. Even I have trouble with it. I plan to perfect it and pass it on to my generations to come :)

INGREDIENTS

  • coconut milk from 2 coconuts (Ayam brand works well)
  • 400 g sugar
  • 10 eggs

PROCEDURE
Coconut milk

It must be pure and undiluted. If you get the canned or tetrapak stuff from the supermarket (Ayam Brand for canned or Kara for the pak) make sure you filter the milk. I usually find lots of coconut bits in these supermarket packaged ones. Best to filter it through a fine colander or a fine mesh sieve. If you have bought the shredded coconut bits and have to squeeze the milk out, there is a good way to do this. Fill those big coffee bags that are used by the kopi-tiams with the shredded coconut. Squeeze it with all your might and make sure you squeeze it till it is dry. DO NOT DILUTE! and do not waste a single drop. Torture the bag like you are killing someone you hate :)

Now that the coconut milk part is over, it is time to make the kaya.

Kaya

Using an electric beater, beat the eggs at medium speed slightly. Just enough the break the yolks.

Add all the sugar and beat at full speed. Mix thoroughly. Stop the beating, add the coconut milk and beat full speed to mix thoroughly. When the sugar has finally dissolved. Pour to a clean steel pot and cook it over a slow fire with CONSTANT STIRRING! Whatever it is there is no shortcut. If you have to stand there stirring for an hour, you have to. Do not use ceramic pots as they will hold the heat for too long and may give rise to burns.

The kaya will change color from the eggy-white (from the eggs and coconut milk) to a redish-brown like gravy. This is due to the caramels forming from the sugar. It will also thicken. Keep stirring the bottom to prevent the bottom from burning. Burns spoil the kaya taste. If possible, lower the flame even more. Once when the eggy-white color is completely replaced by the redish-brown color, stop and leave aside to cool. At this time, you have to protect the kaya from naughty children coming in to lick it with a spoon :)

After it has cooled, you can bottle it in jars and refrigerate. This stuff can last for 3 days in room temperature, that is before the ants get to it.

NOTES

I had better success using freshly squeezed coconut milk than the canned or packed ones.

Do not adulterate this recipe by adding additional flavorings. It just spoils it. Pandan leaves don't cut well with it and same with vanilla essence. It has to be enjoyed as is.

How to eat it? Only on bread. This is not exactly a health food. It has lots of cholesterol and calories. I suggest eliminating eggs if you plan to eat it for breakfast. If you want a cholesterol fest, try spreading it on hot french toast that is fried in butter. A taste that is so good it could kill :)

update: I've done some research and experimentation. This is what I've found out. Heating by direct heat is usually too hot. Unless you have a burner that has a very low flame setting. What is is better as I have found out is to use a double boiler. You still need to stir it but the chances of burning kaya are eliminated.
Update: April 2003

It has been a long time since my contribution of my grandma's kaya recipe. I have experimented on ways to make it easier and hope you will make this addition to the kaya recipe page. BTW, my grandma just passed away last week. She was a good grandma, sorely missed and lovingly remembered. Anyway, here goes for the improvements. I present to you speedy kaya! All ingredients and their amounts are the same.

Mix the sugar and coconut milk together in a microwavable bowl. A plastic one will do just fine. Mix with a wire whisk and set aside. Don't worry if the sugar has dissolved or not.

Break eggs into a 1-litre beaker. Beat the eggs until they are well mixed. Make sure there are no bits of egg white present. The chalaza (stringy thing) that holds the yolk in place is the hardest to get rid of. Try not to create much foam. Just mix the eggs. Set aside.

Return back to the coconut milk and sugar mixture. Mix with a wire whisk briefly and pop it into the microwave oven. Zap it for 1 min on high. Remove and stir with the wire whisk. Pop it back in and repeat the zapping with the same power setting and time. Do this repeatedly until the sugar has completely dissolved. By now the mixture is hot but not boiling.

While the mixture is hot, stir it with the wire whisk and at the same time stream the eggs. Yes, pour the eggs in a slow steady stream. The mixture will thicken slightly. Once finished, pop the mixture into the microwave oven. Zap on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Repeat until the kaya has a off green-brown color and the mixture traces. By traces, I mean that the whatever utensil you use to stir forms impressions.

There you have it speed kaya. No burns and faster.

More notes

OK, crucial factors in kaya making. Sugar in not the important one. Its the eggs and coconut milk. Both have to be fresh for maximum flavor. For some strange reason it is called egg jam. Technically, it is coconut curd. Because lemon curd is made almost the same way and both need eggs to be curdled. The coconut determines the fragrance and taste of the kaya mainly just as lemons do for lemon curd.

I made the above with an 800W microwave. I did some other batches where I lowered the power and this yielded smoother kaya. This is crucial when after you have added the eggs. You just have to repeat the microwaving more often and this take a longer time. I have not perfected it to the brown color that my grandma makes. Could be the charcoal fire she uses. I just got a Braun stick mixer and will try it out to see if it improves.

Thanks for hosting the recipe. I think it is the best homage to my grandma.