Saturday, September 28, 2013

Calas - Sweet Rice Fritters

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm stepping back in time today to explore 19th century New Orleans. My destination is the French Quarter. I'm searching for the donut-like fritters associated with this time and place. The sights and sounds and smells of the old city can overwhelm the uninitiated, but through the din, the imaginative who listen, really listen, will hear Creole slaves hawking calas, the sweet rice fritters whose sale will help buy their freedom. The women shout, "Belles calas, toutes chaudes!" or "Calas, nice and hot!" The cala came to New Orleans via West Africa, but unlike it's cousin, the beignet, its fame traveled no farther than this city and it was rarely found elsewhere in the South. Calas can be leavened with wild yeasts, commercial yeast or baking powder. I chose to use baking powder because I had no idea what the completed fritters would taste like and I didn't want to spend hours waiting to find out. So, an experiment borne of curiosity began. Francis Lam had written about Calas for the pages of Salon and I decided to use his recipe. It was fast, simple and straight forward. I've learned that it also produces marvelous sweet rice fritters. I thought those of you with left over rice and adventurous spirits might like to have a go at these. They are delightfully different and delicious. Here's the recipe for a wonderful curiosity that comes with a history all its own.

Calas - Sweet Rice Fritters...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, adapted from original recipe by Francis Lam for the Salon Media Group


2 cups cooked, very cold rice

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash nutmeg

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Vegetable oil

Confectioners' sugar


1) Fill a high-sided pan with oil to a depth of 2-inches. Warm to 360 degrees F.

2) Place very cold rice in a large mixing bowl. Use fingers to break-up lumps and form separate grains. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg to rice; mix well to coat each grain with dry mixture.

3) Add vanilla to beaten eggs and pour over rice. Mix until there are no dry spots in batter.

4) Form batter into ovals or quenelles, using 2 tableside serving spoons. Working in batches, push batter into oil and cook, turning just once, until puffed and golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Dust generously with confectioners' sugar. Serve hot. Yield: 12 fritters.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Yeasted Appple Fritters - One Perfect Bite

Open Mouths Laughing - One Perfect Bite

French Quarter Beignets - One Perfect Bite

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