Calas: A Taste of New Orleans for Breakfast

[Traditional Louisiana Breakfast Fritters] Once sold by “calas women” in the French Quarter from baskets on their heads, these rice fritters have come a long way from their original Creole beginnings. No longer relegated to just Mardi Gras and First Communion, calas have once again entered the New Orleans mainstream.

It’s like rice pudding plus doughnuts and you get to have it for breakfast. How can you say no to this?

Calas recipe

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups cooked white rice, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Honey for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, stir the rice with a wooden spoon, mashing some of the rice against the side of the bowl, crushing about 1/3 of the rice grains (but leaving the remaining 2/3 whole to create a contrast in texture). Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. In another large mixing bowl with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer), beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Stir the rice into the batter until it is just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand for 1 hour.
  5. Heat a deep-fryer or Dutch oven filled with 2 inches of oil over medium-high heat to 360 degrees F (use a properly rated thermometer to verify the temperature if necessary). Using a tablespoon that is first dipped into the hot oil, scoop out a rounded ball of the batter and drop it into the frying oil. Cooking in batches of 3 or 4 at a time, fry the calas for 3 minutes on each side. Remove them from the frying oil with a slotted spoon or spider-strainer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess grease.
  6. Dust the calas generously with powdered sugar and serve with honey (if using).

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