Kaya spread, or ‘Jem Seri Kaya’ in Malay, is a popular coconut jam throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Singapore and Malaysia, and made entirely from pandan leaf (screwpine leaf), sugar, coconut milk and eggs. The jam originated from Hainanese cooks who used to work for the Englishmen back in the old days.

Due to the aromatic smell of pandan leaf, it’s traditionally eaten early in the morning during breakfast, hence the name ‘Seri Kaya’ which basically means ‘morning glow’. The word ‘kaya’ also refers to the texture of the jam, which is rich and sweet.

While you can easily buy ready-made coconut jams at any grocery store, they’re normally laden with sugar, preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients. By making your own spread, you can use natural ingredients and as much or as little sugar as you want, without compromising on your health.


Try this simple authentic kaya recipe for breakfast, snack or dessert:


Yields 1 big jar of jam

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 500gm of coconut milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups of custard powder (mixed with a little water)
  • 1 pandan leaf



  1. Mix sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar melts.
  2. When the sugar turns golden brown in colour, add the coconut milk and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then wait for it to cool.
  3. Once completely cooled, add egg yolks, custard powder mixture and pandan leaf. Stir over medium heat until boiling.
  4. Leave it to cool. Once completely cool, the texture thickens and it’s ready to be eaten.


Extra tip:

pulut_tai_tai_blue_glutinous_rice_cakesYou can use the kaya spread to make traditional Asian desserts such as Pulut Taitai, Pulut Tekan, Pulut Seri Muka, and Kuih Seri Kaya (kaya cookies).



89a9f2d125d0ebe81176017da3a2cddcWhile kaya spread is normally eaten on toast, most foodies these days also spread the jam on pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods like cupcakes (either spread on top of the cupcake, or used as filling). You can enjoy it in any way you like.