Calas Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

At the turn of the last century, the “Calas Woman” was still a fixture in the French Quarter marketplace in the early morning, crying Belle Cala! Tout Chaud! and carrying a covered basket or bowl on her head filled with the Rice fritters to sell to the Creole cooks who would serve them with coffee or Cafe au Lait. The name is said to be derived from an African word for rice.

The Calas women are long gone, and for the most part, so are Calas (KAH-luhs). These lovely rice fritters have taken a back seat to Beignets over the years, but they’re second to none in flavor and texture in my kitchen. The slight tang of the souring step in this recipe, the nutmeg, and light as a cloud texture, will make you wish you had made more of these, so you may want to double this recipe.

This is a terrific way to utilize leftover white rice, and taste something that is part of the history of New Orleans cuisine. Hey, if you have a quart container of rice leftover from the chinese you had for dinner last night?? Make Calas for breakfast! Here is the recipe:

Calas Recipe – Creole Rice Fritters

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.

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Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes!

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20 thoughts on “Calas Recipe”

  1. Last time I was in New Orleans (2003?), I had Calas at the Coffeepot in the French Quarter. Excellent!

  2. Danno, once again an excellent addition to your already magnificent collection of truly authenic creole recipes. If it is not already, your collection is quickly becoming the definitive source on the web for authentic legendary New Orleans cuisine. Charlie

    P.S. I am glad to say that although the Calas Women my have gone, the Pie Lady’s distinctive holler can still be heard.

  3. My Father was actually born in Holland, Tilburg. I will have to look into the old & new year oliebollen. Dank u for stopping by Nola Cuisine! Doe voorzichtig!

  4. I found you because of today’s article in the NYTimes on NOLA food. Since I’m living in China, I’m always looking for a good recipe to use up extra rice left over from dinners… and this looks amazing! Now if only I can track down some powdered sugar.

  5. I thougt I had seen an old recipe for calas that could be stuffed with andouille or sausage, but I can no linger find it. Are you familiar with this?


  6. Years ago in 1987, I created a line of Original Louisiana Dolls, one of them is the Cala Woman Doll. It has been years since I created a Cala Women (you know the story “Katrina”). Well, recently I received an order for her and I was checking the sculpting of my Calas and I began searching for photos of calas to see if my sculpted Calas were on target, and I found your website. I think your site is very elegant and informative. I would love to add a link to your Cala recipe page on my Cala Woman Doll Page ( Please let me know if this is possible. I look forward to hearing from you.

  7. It’s been years since I’ve thought of calas. I’m from the Panhandle of Florida and once a year around Mardi Gras we would have all types of Creole style foods available. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. Looks like I’ve got some cooking to do.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

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  9. Just took a cooking class with Frank Brigsten in New Orleans and our first dish were savory calas made with crawfish and served with homemade Russian dressing. Excellent!

  10. The original spelling appears to be “callas.” These “rice cakes” appear in Louisiana history as early as the 1790s. Joseph Xavier de Pontalba, born in Louisiana in 1754, the son of a Frenchman, he was thus a true Creole–in his correspondence, which was thoroughly researched by Christina Vella, reported that before departing New Orleans for Europe in 1797, the future Baron de Pontalba had his cook instruct him on how to make gumbo and callas. He brought this recipes to France.

    Vella’s work, Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness de Pontalba, is a wonderful piece with great details of life in New Orleans during the 18th century.

  11. Do you have a recipe or suggested way to make the savory Callas? Also, when commercial yeast wasn’t used, what was? I have a sourdough I’ve kept going over the years but not sure if that would work.

    It’s interesting that the distinctive yeasty smell of the callas batter is similar to a wild potato-fed starter I got my mom (in Louisiana). Must be the same strain of yeast working there.

    I’m a Cajun living in Maryland and make beignets regularly for friends. These callas were tasty and a window into old New Orleans.

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