I know some people live their whole lives without tasting kaya. It’s sad. 

Basically, kaya is a type of coconut jam –  an eggy, custardy, pandan-fragrant, delicious coconut jam. 

Kaya has big childhood resonance for me. My mother used to make it in the cramped kitchen of our family home in Brisbane, at night so the heat wasn’t usually too bad (says I, who never had to stay tethered to the hot-plate and double-boiler…). 

During this 2020 COVID-life, #chefbro (to whom you were introduced in the previous post on this seems-to-have-a-lot-of-recipes-for-a-non-recipe-blog blog) started cooking some of my Mum’s star recipes. There’s a story behind how this got started that I’ll write another time. He got kudos from everyone for his pandan chiffon cake (which my Mum has been family-famous for for decades), made an extremely successful recent batch of kaya, then tried his hand at kuih seri muka (a Malaysian layered glutinous rice and kaya dessert). Making the seri muka meant another batch of kaya came our way.  

A couple of people asked for #chefbro’s kaya recipe so I’m sharing it here.

Kaya on toast
Kaya on toast


650g eggs
600g sugar
550mL coconut cream
2 tablespoons cornflour
3 large pandan leaves, or 125mL pandan juice (see below), or pandan essence to taste

  • Dissolve eggs and sugar. Add coconut cream, pandan, and cornflour (dissolved in water).
  • In a double-boiler, stir till thickened.
  • Allow to steam over double-boiler for 30 mins, stirring every 10 mins.
  • If you used pandan leaves, remove before bottling up.
  • Bottle up in sterilised jars as you would other jams.

Pandan juice

6 pandan leaves, washed
Approx. 1/2 cup (125mL) water

  • Cut up pandan leaves and put them in blender with water.
  • Blend till finely chopped.
  • Pour into a sieve lined with kitchen cloth (thin teatowel, cheesecloth, or similar).
  • Squeeze the pandan puree until no more juice comes out.


Here’s the recipe written in his hand: 

#chefbro's kaya recipe
#chefbro’s kaya recipe