22 June 2009

Kaya, Made with Love

So the other day I was with my grandmother, learning how to make kaya from the very best. I had an afternoon off and we had fixed this appointment earlier.

In the morning, I went with my dad to the wet market, getting the requisite ingredients for this coconut custard / egg jam that is so dearly loved in this part of the world. My grandma specifically requested for coconut milk, the freshly squeezed kind, not the off-the-shelf packets that are much more accessible. That vital ingredient was not available in the wet markets in my neighbourhood, so I said with great bravado, "Why not buy 3 freshly grated coconuts instead? I'll squeeze them!!" and so my grandma said "very well, you shall squeeze."

So I went to her place and realised that the recipe called for 4 coconuts... She bought 1 grated coconut already. Her original intention was to have the milk of 3 coconuts, and the 4th coconut was to be squeezed with grounded pandan leaves to extract the fragrance and flavour of the pandan. Oh, so it's 4 coconuts I'm squeezing. Very well, it shouldn't be too difficult.

By the 3rd coconut, my fingers were fixed into a clawing position and could not readily straighten. When I was done, my hands were stiff and sore, and I was crying out for mercy. My grandma simply laughed and me, and my mum gloated and said "when grandma asks for squeezed coconuts, listen to her, she knows better." Squeezing coconuts truly isn't a piece of cake.

Kaya making is labour and time intensive, but the taste of home-made kaya is so worth it. Best to do it with someone you love =) Then at least the time spent will be enjoyable ; ) This recipe is the old school way of doing it, I'm sure that a quick google search will churn out more convenient and fuss free ways of getting this done. Enjoy!

- Milk of 3 coconuts
- 1 freshly grated coconut
- 2 small bundles of pandan leaves
- 15 small eggs
- 800g brown sugar
- 1tbs potato starch

1. Pulse 1 bundle of the pandan leaves in a blender until fine. Mix it in with the grated coconut, squeeze to extract milk and juice. Mix with the other coconut milk, strain it (Grandma says, important to strain it otherwise the loose bits of coconut in the milk will mess the texture).

2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together by hand, in 1 direction only (Grandma says, do not change directions halfway as it won't be as smooth. Grandma also says, whisking by machine produces too much bubbles and makes it harder to steam later. Grandma is wise, do as she says) for 30min until all sugar has dissolved. My arms nearly dropped off, but hey, no pain no gain.

3. Slowly add the strained coconut and pandan mixture to the egg mixture. Whisk for another 15min.

4. Put the mixture in a double boiler and continue to whisk in the same direction until the mixture starts to thicken to the consistency of cream, about 20min.

5. Dissolve the potato starch in water, add into mixture. Stir some more.

6. Add the 2nd small bundle of pandan leaves into the mixture. Stir some more. about 20min.

7. After the mixture thickens to a consistency of a gravy, cover the double boiler and leave it to heat for 1 hour, stirring maybe once in that hour.

8. After 1 hour, remove the container and portion out the kaya according to your relatives and friends =) I had 7 bottles portioned out. Nice =D

For a much easier recipe that doesn't involve stirring for hours over a hot stove, do check out this link: http://thelazychef.wordpress.com/2006/09/02/nonya-kaya/


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