CALAS, CALAS. BEAUTIFUL CALAS! VERY HOT!
Those of y’all who know me, know I love a good Louisiana history story especially when it has to do with a food’s storied past.
King Cakes and beignets are both familiar, easy to find and have history in Louisiana. But here is another sweet Louisiana treat that is rich in history, not commonly known or easy to find. Let me introduce you to Calas.
Ever heard of calas ? Me either, but I was researching a project involving rice and discovered calas. Calas are made with leftover cooked rice and combined with a sugary egg batter. The mixture is then deep fried and dusted with powered sugar.
Some historians think calas were brought to Louisiana from rice growning parts of Africa by slaves. Calas can be traced to Ghana and Liberia. During the days of French rule, slaves were given one day off during the week, that day usually being Sunday. So on Sundays, the African women would sell calas in the French Quarter. “Calas, Calas. Belle Calas! Tout chauds, Madame!”
The Spanish took control of Louisiana in the 1760’s and gave slaves the right to buy their freedom. Selling calas was a way for women to earn money and use those monies to buy freedom for themselves and their families.
Calas have made their way back by way of a Mardi Gras tradition. Bakeries are choosing to use the shape of a calas lady and her basket of “belle calas” as the porcelain figurine in King Cakes. She may be gone, but not forgotten.
If you are interested in making Sweet Calas, here’s the recipe.
2 cups cooked rice
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 heaping tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
vegetable oil for frying
Combine rice, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix until rice coated. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Vegetable oil should be heated to 360 degrees. Drop rice mixture by tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Fry until brown turning over once during cooking. Drain on paper towels and sprikle with powdered sugar. Best served hot.