Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kaya on toast! Isn’t that a classic Singaporean brekkie?

Kaya on toast! Isn’t that a classic Singaporean breakfast? My son said to me when he sat down for breakfast this morning. Before, I could answer him, my wife came to table with half a dozen of half boiled eggs and a pot of Kopi-o. Yes indeed, we are having a full Singaporean brekkie. The reasons behind this unusual breakfast at home were our neighbour gave us a tub of homemade kaya (coconut egg jam) yesterday and we haven’t eaten kaya for ages.

In the days of my childhood, kaya on toasts were virtually eaten and only served at breakfast time. Today in Singapore, it is often eaten as a snack and is readily available throughout the day in most franchised kopitiams (cafes) chains. But it is still an integral part of everyday breakfast especially eaten with half boiled egg (3 minutes eggs) and a cuppa of kopi-O (local blended coffee). When I eat kaya on toast, my mouth waters for the kaya my mother used to make in our family kitchen. Although it was easily available, my mother had to laboriously cook the kaya over the charcoal stove for hours herself.
Kaya making remains a laborious task but there is nothing like homemade kaya. Here’s my mother kaya recipe and I can assure you that it worth the time and effort.

Kaya (Coconut egg jam) Recipe.

10 eggs
500g sugar
800ml thick coconut milk (If unavailable, use full cream canned coconut milk)
¼ cup brown sugar
2-3 pandan leaves (optional, if unavailable)


Beat eggs with sugar with a whisk for 10 minute. Traditionally, kaya is cooked in a typical enamelled double boiler. (If unavailable, cook the kaya inside a smaller steel mixing bowl over a bigger pot of boiling water). If one is available, fill the base unit of the double boiler with water and bring to boil. Strain egg mixture into the top unit of the double boiler and stirring all the time until sugar has dissolved. Pour in coconut milk into egg mixture and mix well. Stir with a wooden spoon for the next 30 minutes until egg mixture reaches a smooth custard consistency. Heat the brown sugar in another pot until brown sugar caramelised. Add it to egg mixture to get a rich brown colour and stir well. Double boil custard for 4-5 hours over medium heat. Do top up water of the base unit of double boiler to prevent kaya from burning. When kaya is cooked allow to cool before storing in jars. Keep refrigerated.


  1. Wow! That´s alot of eggs & sugar..I wonder how come Singaporean who eat kaya daily don´t get fat so easily? I absolutely LOVE KAYA so are Mattias & Nelina. Kopi ta-lek is best with kaya,don´t you think? Do you have Kopi Kaya franchise in Australia too? Swedish people like to eat sweet stuff & drink coffee, Swedish are used to paying $2-3 for a muffin & $2-7 for a cup of coffee if I can not find a job may be I will open a Singapore Kopitiam here sell kaya kopi (Singapore style) ..but first have to do some survey. I will definately make this kaya after my diet program.Thanks for sharing this recipe Phil!

  2. Hi Uncle Phil

    The mentioning of Kopi-O, reminds me of Kopi-si and I just miss that taste so much. Just cannot get that type of Kopi favor in Australia!


  3. kaya..been a long while since i tasted its bread and sugar for me :)

  4. I have also thought of selling Singaporean style kopi-O, but an angmo friend told me our kopi-o is not strong and flavorful enough for them. And, they also don't mind the wait for their "freshly" brewed/percolated coffee. Apparently the "coffee break" is like the smoke-break of the 21st century.

  5. Hej Estee and HW,
    To start a kopitiam we must first invest on our
    "uniquely Singaporean" expresso coffee making machine. It consists of a round vessel with taps for dispensing boiling water and brewed tea.Anyone has a photo of it? And don't forget those "soaks" for filtering out the "kopi sai"(used coffee powder). Haha

  6. Hi Danny,
    You mean scattering the sugar on top of those buttered toasts. You are soooo Singaporean leh!


  7. Hi Lim,
    If that is the case, you have to roast your own kopi and create your blend. Once I find out more on that "trade secret" recipe,I'll post it for you leh.... haha

  8. I think the concept is natural in Singapore because it´s our daily sort of food. The Swede often are skeptic about new normally take time to establish. Swede are uses to drinking coffee without sugar, they rather have milk or cream.. the kaya I am not sure if they like the look..& the consistence. Will need a group of Swede for taste test..see what they think.

  9. Hi All,
    Typo error. I meant "sock" the homemade flannel coffee filter used at home, kopitiams and the mamah stores.

  10. I know what you mean Phil, the hainanese kopitam uncle often use the long "sock" to filter the kopi.

  11. Mr. Lee at the Lion City Cafe here in Plano, Texas, U.S.A. has kaya to go.
    I missed it so much and I always wanted my American wife to taste Singapore food. So she has tried Hainanese Chicken Rice, Mee Siam, Kway Teow, Laksa, Nasi Lemak, and Kaya. She loves it all except for Durian! Hopefully, he will have Hokkien Prawn Mee some day.
    Kam Siah, Mr. Lee!

  12. Hi Anonymous,
    Eating durian is an acquired taste. Hope she will add it to her "die die must eat" list. You are lucky to have Mr Lee to cater Singapore food for you and your family. Do come in and join us to keep our traditional food recipes alive :)
    Thanks for visiting.

  13. Call me philip, long time since we last chat on line. Richard Carl Fernandez....your kaya recipe recipe is interesting...but I dont have the patience to cook it for four hours! Lrts discuss on my recipe...ready in an hour...Cheers.

  14. Hi Richard,
    We'll balek kampung in mid November and hope to taste your kaya soon. Do we have your contact? Hope you are able to round up all the old schoolmates for a makan session during our visit.