I’m still hard at work on Bayou Fire, and have officially passed the proverbial half-way point in terms of word count. I’m having fun with the research, and am going back to New Orleans to do some more in almost exactly a month.
Today, I thought I would share an old-school Creole dish called calas. These are rice fritters that were sold by street vendors in the 1830s; they were quite a popular treat. The cala woman would walk up and down the street with her basket, crying “Belle Cala! Tout Chaud!” (Beautiful cala! All hot!) and people would flock to buy her goodies.
You can try these yourself, with the recipe from NOLA Cuisine:
1/2 Cup warm water
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Cooked White Rice
2 Large Eggs, beaten slightly
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 pinch Kosher salt
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
Peanut Oil for frying
Powdered Sugar for a heavy dusting
The day before you want to make your Calas, combine the water and sugar in a small bowl. Add the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight. This step will really give your Calas a distinctive flavor; think sourdough.
The next day, stir the rice mixture and kind of mash the rice against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Don’t go too crazy though, I like to have a bit of that rice texture in the finished product.
Add the remaining ingredients to the rice mixture, mix well with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be a fairly loose batter, a little thicker than pancake batter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. This step will make your Calas as light as air when fried!
Heat 3 inches of peanut oil in a large saucepan to 365 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of the Calas batter into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Serve with lots and lots of powdered sugar, like Beignets, or drizzle with Cane Syrup. Recipe makes about 6 good sized Calas.