My kaya recipe, which was posted 3 years back, turned out to be the most popular recipe! We Southeast Asians really love our velvety smooth and coconut-y sweet breakfast spread, and we want it vegan too! I’ve decided to put out a video since kaya is quite complex to make. It is easier to follow if the steps visually and sequentially laid out.
For foreign friends, pandan leaves are like our vanilla. Being a tropical plant that needs a lot of water, pandan is not cultivated anywhere other than Southeast and South Asia. It’s used in almost all Southeast Asian sweets, drinks and sometimes savoury dishes too. It has a light, pleasant and unique fragrance that can’t exactly be substituted. Likely your local Asian grocery store will carry the extract, frozen or canned version.
Nyonya Kaya recipe
Takes 2-3 hours. Makes 300ml.
- 300g silken tofu (I prefer non-organic tofu. Organic tofu tends to have a stronger soy taste.)
- 200g raw sugar
- 200ml coconut milk (Not every brand of coconut milk works, some give an overly strong coconut taste. You have to experiment.)
- 8 pandan leaves cut into strips
- 2 knotted pandan leaves
- 1/2 tsp salt
Blend the silken tofu and pour into steel mixing bowl. Blend pandan leaves with coconut milk and strain into the bowl. Add in sugar and salt. Place mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water simmering over low heat. Stir every 5-10mins for 15 -20 mins till mixture thickens slightly. Sieve into another bowl to remove lumps. Return to heat and cook for 20-30mins, stirring every 5-10 mins till mixture becomes slightly thinner than desired consistency (it sets and thickens in fridge). Let cool, transfer into clean container.
Homemade kaya’s shelf life is not as long as store bought ones. It can be kept in an air tight container up for 1 week in the fridge. Always scoop out with clean utensils. Never store anything homemade with coconut milk at room temperature for long, eg for more than 3 hours.
By nutritionist Krystle Koh.
Kaya is not a health food but you definitely can make it healthier! Homemade Kaya is so much healthier than the usual kaya spread sold in groceries stores — made without preservatives, chemicals or other colourings. Since this kaya recipe is free from animal ingredients, it is completely cholesterol-free. A great option for those watching calories or cholesterol levels.
This recipe is lower in fat compared to the conventional kaya. Kaya spread can be quite high in sugar nonetheless therefore use it sparingly if you are watching your sugar intake. Raw sugar is less refined and has slightly more minerals than white sugar. Using pandan leaves is better than artificial pandan flavouring, health and taste wise!
This recipe uses silken tofu as an egg substitute. Not only it helps to give the spread a smooth texture, tofu is also a great source of plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates and calcium. Compared to eggs, it is much lower in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free.
Coconut milk in this recipe is an essential ingredient to create fragrance and gives a creamy texture. Although coconut milk is a high saturated fat food, it is not a good reason to avoid it like the plague. Eating fats at moderate amounts is good for balancing hormones (especially among women), keep your skin soft, supple and provides you with satiation (prevents you from getting too peckish in between meals). You are less likely to snack and therefore could help in weight management.
The saturated fatty acids present in the coconut meat is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs); which is unlike the long-chain triglycerides usually found in certain processed plant oils and animal fats. Some studies suggests that this type of MCTs can be easily metabolized by the body to become energy or ketones in the liver— so it is less likely to be stored as fat in the body. However, over-consumption of any high-calorie food will result in fat accumulation. Coconut milk also contains a type of fatty acids called lauric acids, which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and could therefore potentially prevent infection. So we do not need to fear fats if they are consumed in healthy amounts!
Hope you find this how-to video useful! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe to my channel.