Food - Drink
Calas: The New Orleans Breakfast Beignets Made With Rice
New Orleans’ distinctive Creole cuisine showcases a blend of European, African, Native American, and French influence, which makes for some truly unique dishes. Calas, a rice fritter dish, is a lesser-known cousin to the French colonist-inspired beignet, and has an equally important role in New Orleans history.
The 1700s-era origin of the dish is attributed to enslaved peoples from Africa's rice-growing regions, and selling the treats helped them buy their freedom. Women would walk the streets of the French Quarter selling their calas, and according to NP4, some 1,400 slaves bought their freedom during this time, whether using calas or not.
Since then, calas have virtually disappeared from New Orleans' streets, but still make for delicious breakfast treats alongside a cup of hot coffee. The pastries are typically made of flour, sugar, eggs, yeast and rice, and the batter then is deep-fried, creating a golden, crispy crust while the inside remains soft and spongy.
Small pieces of the rice often stick out around the surface of calas, which adds a unique crispy texture and a satisfying crunch. Calas can be fried in any oil, but The New York Times suggests peanut oil, they are often seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and sprinkled with confectioners' sugar before serving.