Thursday, 22 September 2011

Kaya (Pandan Coconut Curd Jam) Toast

Kaya toast with an English twist, kind of (see end of post)

The term "kaya toast" usually refers to more than just the pair of thinly sliced white bread toasted on a charcoal grill, spread with sweet kaya and a slab of salted butter; it also includes a couple of half-boiled eggs (more on that next time), and a cup of freshly made coffee. Instead of latte or mocha or cappucino or frappuncino or I-really-don't-drink-Starbucks-much, you can have:
kopi (coffee with condensed milk),
kopi c (with evaporated milk),
kopi 0 (black without milk with sugar),
kopi o kosong (black without milk or sugar),
kopi siu dai (with less sugar)
kopi po (thin), kopi gao (thick),
kopi kosong (plain).
Or you can have tea, and actually I'm more of a tea person, but that brings up another even more confusing list.

Kaya toast is considered our national breakfast, and kaya, probably our national spread of choice. Making kaya is like making curd or custard, but the Singaporean way. You only need eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan (screw pine leaves), oh and LOTS of patience. I just shared my lime curd, which was done directly over the stove on low heat, but this time round, I took care to do it with a double boiler, because you need to stir-cook the curd jam for close to 2 hours. Yes.

One of the 4 key ingredients- pandan leaves, freshly pinched from my backyard

The ratios of the 4 ingredients vary but I'm using the ratios used by the boss of the Good Morning Nanyang Cafe, voted Singapore's best kaya, though I've taken some extra steps to make it greener and smoother.

Kaya (Pandan Coconut Curd Jam)
makes about 2-3 jars' worth i.e. lots of servings, so really it's not that much sugar and eggs and coconut milk ;)
12 medium (or about 10 large) free-range eggs
1 cup (250ml) thick coconut milk, fresh if possible
1 cup (250g) unrefined cane sugar
1 bunch of pandan leaves (less than half that photo)

1. Beat the eggs and sugar till egg yolks are broken up and the sugar is dissolved. Add coconut milk to the mixture and mix well.
2. Sieve into a large metal/porcelain bowl. (He skips this for a more rustic, lumpier texture)

Sieving for smooth kaya

3. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (i.e. your double boiler. Choose a pot size that allows the bowl to balance and sit snugly on top.)
4. Tie the pandan leaves into knots and add into the mixture. Reserve one leaf and pound/blend it to get the green pandan paste.
5. Stir the mixture for 1.5 to 2 hours constantly (but taking 2 min breaks between stirs is fine, although do be more vigilant when you see it thickening up). It'll be a mucky colour. Add the pandan paste towards the end to up the colour and pandan intensity.
6. (opt) Puree with a hand blender for an even smoother texture if you like.
Let cool, store in clean jars in the fridge for about a week or so, as there aren't preservatives.


I know it's kind of a dubious green, but it's just delicious- thick and rich with all that egg and coconut milk, and with the unmistakeable fragrance of pandan. You can also try the slow-cooker method which takes longer but with no effort on your part, but I think the sweat/love contributes to the x factor of homemade kaya.

There are two versions, the Hainanese one is a toffee brown because the sugar is caramelised first, whereas the Peranakan Nonya version I'm sharing is greenish because of the pandan paste added and has a stronger pandan smell, which is perfect with the sweet full flavour of the coconut curd, and just irresistible against salted butter on fresh warm toast.

Oh and yes, those are english muffins (homemade, sourdough, recipe soon) instead of your usual commercial white bread slices. I was going to make eggs bennies with the muffins and eggs, but suddenly craved something a little more local before I went back to London (next week ahhh).


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  2. I've had kaya toast once before but have never seen the recipe. This looks so good!

  3. glad you found the recipe to your liking Shu Han!

    the texture and colour looks good! You can add more coconut milk and sugar according to your taste :)

  4. nowadays lazy to kaya at home, usually bought from outside..homemade kaya always the best.

  5. i love pandan kaya!! your green looks PERFECT to me. good job, shu han! have always wanted to make this but just soooo reluctant to stick around the kitchen for 2 hours to keep stirring. i will have to ring up 2 more friends to come help me so we can take turns and work in a team. i am THAT lazy. but then again, that means i'll have to share my kaya with 2 more ppl too... im kidding, hehe. i'll let you know how it goes once ive tried them in the holidays =)

  6. camelia: thanks, i'm honoured! I'll definitely go see.

    katherine: wow! not many non-Singaporeans/Malaysians have!

    liverpool: thanks for sharing the recipe so generously!!

    sonia: hur hur get people to make for you, in exchange for one of your own delicious creations. that's what my mum likes to do for the very time-consuming things like mooncakes and dumplings.

    winston: haha thanks, only a kaya lover will appreciate green jam (: anyway it's more like absent-minded constant stirring. You can maybe do other stuff then every 2 min or so give it a few stirs. Or wheel the tv in. haha. Ok do let me know!

  7. This why I love being a foodie and be part of that world, I get to see food I never knew existed before. It looks good, thanks for sharing ;)

  8. I have never heard about kaya, but seeing its lovely colour (dubious??? for me it's fabulous!) I already love it (without tasting). I don't think I can get pandan leaves here, but I will try. Some Asian shops sell fresh vegetables and leaves I have no idea what to do with ;-) I am even ready to stir it for two hours. Thanks for the great, original recipe!

  9. lol, I read the sentence "freshly pinched from my..." and thought it was going to end with the word "neighbour" :D

    Doesn't matter if it's green - I made some rather "interestingly green" Green Pea Soup which was delicious, despite the colour :D Gotta say I've never heard of pandan - looks fun to cook with though, thanks for sharing :)

  10. Munaty: I also love finding out and tasting new foods from all over the world(:

    Sissi: Haha I'm surprised you're ready to commit yourself to a trip down to the asian store (btw you most definitely can find pandan leaves there) and 2 hours of stirring from looking at green jam!

    charles: well, my neighbour does have mangoes hehehehe.

    shuqi: I'm still lousy at cracking the eggs though. See one broke.

  11. My mom used to make coconut jam...and I love it! With pandan, it sounds even better!

  12. Pandan kaya is so scrumptious! I'll have some on my toast, please.



  13. I can't believe it, I think we were making kaya on the same day! I wish I'd read your post before I made it and blogged about it, as mine wasn't nearly so successful! Great to find your pages via Dom's. I love finding out more about Singapore's fabulous food!

  14. tina: acutally coconut jam sounds like a good idea, when pandan is not as easily available in the uk!

    rosa: thanks rosa!

    little macaroon: I'm chuffed to find people who are into SIngaporean food! I'm especially surprised you made kaya! do try it again, and don't worry about the lumpy texture if it happens, just blend! hee hee

  15. hey if i don't plan to blend it do i just leave the panda knots in the jar with the kaya ?

    1. nope take it out! if you don't blend it the colour will be much less green and the flavour less concentrated, but still good! you can try the hainanese kaya too, they caramelise the sugar first so you get a toffee brown colour and a nice caramel flavour instead of a strong pandan flavour. good luck! :)