Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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

41 comments:

Barbara said...

I've never had these while in NOLA. But we always have rice left over....going to try them ASAP!

DailyChef said...

This looks amazing. I always have trouble finding good New Orleans/Cajun food around California. Time to make my own!

Laurie said...

These look delicious.. I have never had them before but what a great way to use the left over rice!

Claudia said...

Thanks for helping to get me out of my culinary closet. This is a "must-try" and I love the history.

Allie and Pattie said...

Oh, it's been years since I've had these!! Thank you SO much for the reminder!
xoxo Pattie

Mary said...

Yes, I'm afraid these are one of those near lost dishes from our region. Too bad. Besides the history of how they were sold, they are delicious little puffs of yummy!! These have been on my list of recipes to feature also, so you'll be seeing them again over at my place.

Ella said...

Very good in case that you have rice left over! Why I haven't seen this recipe few days ago??? Ok. it's never late :)

Pam said...

Oh my - they look so addictive. I don't think I could eat just one or two. Amazing Mary.

Janine said...

Oh these sound interesting!!

Susan said...

Once more, the history that you post with your dishes are just as delightful as the recipes.

Bob said...

Ok, that just sounds awesome. I need to make them.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I have never heard of these before - they sound delicious!

3 hungry tummies said...

All I want to do is to have a plate of these beauties with my coffee right now!

Arlette said...

oh how lovely these area
We all have leftover rice ,
thanks for his recipe for sure I will try it soon.

Debbie said...

Never had these, but boy do those look good! Gosh I have done this before come over when I am craving something sweet! Thanks Mary for stopping over, glad you like the pregnancy post, and yes when all is said and done, my boys are true blessings!!~

Joanne said...

Anything doughy and fried is a-ok in my book. I've never seen these before but perhaps they are the NOLA version of zeppoles. Which is never something to complain about.

Marilyn said...

Thanks for stopping by for a visit and leaving a comment for me. It makes my day to find a new friend. Interesting recipe and appreciate the history, too. Thanks for sharing.

Wandering Coyote said...

Hi Mary! Thanks for your visit to ReTorte and your lovely comment! I really appreciate it!

Marla said...

Oh Mary, I love this blog. Thank you for stopping by and visiting mine, cause now I have found you and I am going to follow your posts. These Sweet rice fritters look and sound amazing, I must try these out soon. Smiles, Marla

Selba said...

This looks so yummy! I have to give a try someday :)

Kathleen said...

Can't wait to try these. Yum!! Thanks for introducing me to something new!!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I learn something new from you, all the time. I've never heard of these, but in looking at the recipe-- they sound inexpensive and fun to try. Queuing up! Thanks for the history lesson.

Juliana said...

Mary, these fritters sound and look so interesting...and so tasty...thanks for the recipe :-) Great picture!

Chef Matt and Megs said...

Love these, reminds me of the beignets I had at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter. Thanks for sharing and I'll have to try this. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Joie de vivre said...

Mary,
Thank you so much for visiting! I can't believe I've never stumbled across your lovely blog before! I've signed up to follow you so I can read your future posts.

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Just lovely! I adore rice, as I was raised by a Louisiana native. It was served at nearly every meal. But, I must say, I have never experienced these little beauties. I must change that soon:)

The Blonde Duck said...

I am frittering for these fritters.

Lea Ann said...

They say, never trust anything that looks too good to be true??? Screw that theory when I look at these! Wonderful.

Martha's Menagerie said...

Oh Mary!! You are making me drool all over my computer again! These look so yummy. I wish I could reach right through my computer screen and grab one - seriously! :-)

Cathy said...

I've heard of these but didn't realize they were made of rice. Very interesting post, Mary. It's always fun to learn something new.

Future Grown-Up said...

This looks absolutely amazing. I'm not a big rice person normally but this could definitely convert me over!

Lady Ren said...

oh I have always wanted to make something like this. Now I might have the courage!

Janice said...

I've never had these but they look really yummy. Perfect desert

Erica said...

Wow!They look wonderful!I would love a dozen of those :)

Katy ~ said...

Sign me up. These sound irresistible!

g said...

What a great idea for cold leftover rice!! Too bad I just threw some out - wait till next time I cook Chinese and have leftovers.

I never had them in New Orleans, but next time I go I'll look.

lk (Healthy Delicious) said...

these look so wonderfully puffy and sweet!

Debbi Smith said...

This looks excellent and something that my family would like! Thanks!

Diana's Cocina said...

Lovely! I can't wait to try them.

Tuty @Scentofspice.com said...

Since I cook rice everyday, I will definitely safe some rice and try this.

Chris Calentine said...

I love calas and have been making them for years. I don't know where you got the recipe, but calas as I know them are made with "sour" rice by putting yeast and a little water in a bowl the night before and letting it rise or ferment overnight. Then the flour etc. is added and allowed to rise 15-20 minutes before frying. Not using the fermentation makes them much less flavorful and really not the "real" calas that I know and love.

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