Kaya is originally a Hainanese spread best described as coconut curd. A sublime combination of coconut milk, sugar and eggs. Kaya on toast with a couple of very soft boiled eggs and a cup of local coffee is heaven. It was eaten at coffee shops in Singapore known as kopitiam since as far back as 1919. Since 2000, it has been popularised by the chain of coffee shops in Singapore and now Malaysia and Australia called Killiney Kopitiam
I never had the urge to make it before; the risks of scrambling or curdling the mixture were too great. It was easier to stop on the way to the airport at Mustafa Centre in Singapore to pick up Sunshine Bakery’s Pandan Kaya. The addition of pandan (screw pine leaf) flavouring was a Peranakan or Nonya contribution. Freshly made it has a short shelf life and cannot be purchased in bulk so was savoured like it was the nectar of the gods while it lasted!
With a TM 5 at the helm it becomes a one pot cinch! I can say without gloating that I now make the best kaya in my Thermomix! Well, I’m not knocking the kaya from Sunshine – I loved it. Mine’s better for me because it is available fresh when I want it and less sweet (sweetened only with 8 medjool dates). A less guilty pleasure minus the slabs of butter wedged in with the already high calorfically and high cholesterol kaya!
There are many factors that make kaya making a chore. As mentioned above, the fact that you can so easily ruin the curd by the temperature being too high is one. Another is that making fresh pandan juice is a pain – more of an effort without a Thermomix for sure, but even with, a pain nonetheless. Standing by the cooking pot for ages hurts my feet. Arm hurts from stirring and stir you have to when making it the conventional way. Sheer boredom, pure tedium.
I will be eternally grateful to my friend Fern, a fellow Thermomix advisor who moved to London from Ipoh, Malaysia, with her Thermomix in tow and amongst other amazing ones, the recipe for Duck Egg Kaya from Thermomix Malaysia that I have now adapted. The biggest revelation and what makes it such a simple recipe is that you actually cook the pandan leaves rather than extract the juice; it adds such an amazing depth of flavour that I am going to experiment with the process in other dishes too!
I should say here that in the course of recreating my Kopitiam experience in my own kitchen, I have also discovered the wonders of making eggs in the Thermomix using the guided cooking feature and the incredible precision with which you can perfect their preparation! Traditionally a kopitiam breakfast set comes with two soft boiled eggs which should be quite runny for authenticity. The first time I made (just one) using the soft boil timing of ten minutes on the recipe chip, it was not runny enough for the kopitiam effect. The next time I gave it 8 minutes and it was slightly too under done. Well, all I did was put the egg in the bowl I’d cracked it in back in the TM simmering basket and “poaching” it for a further minute or so and it was perfect as the photo shows! The addition of soy sauce and white pepper are a must for the full flavour combo! It may sound unusual may not look particularly appetising but I urge you to try it; it is delicious!
I was so excited by this recipe that brought a bit of the past back, that on a recent visit to my sister in Boston, I took a freshly made jar with me, telling her it tasted like the kaya of our youth bought from our “bread man” and eaten with warm crusty baguettes for tea. Her response says it all: “This is nothing like the kaya we used to have. This is better than any kaya I have ever had!”
I love my Thermomix!
5 duck eggs at room temperature
8 pandan leaves cut into 2 cm pieces
1 400g tin coconut milk
8 – 15 pitted medjool dates (adjust according to sweetness preference)
Place all the ingredients in the TM bowl and with the MC on, blend for 1 min/speed 10.
Insert the butterfly whisk. With MC on to start with, cook at 45 mins/90°C/speed 2 and once the mixture reaches 90°C, remove the MC.
Continue to cook until the mixture reaches the desired consistency (spreadable).
Remove the butterfly whisk, put the MC back on and blend for 30 secs/speed 10. Pour into sterilised jars. Spread generously on toast and enjoy!