Around the turn of the century, you could find ladies walking the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, selling Creole calas to eat with your coffee. Calas are a delightful and slightly sour fried concoction that will remind you of eating a fritter. Once fried they are dusted with powdered sugar and served piping hot.
When I was younger and my family would go out for brunch, you could get your choice of either calas or beignets. I always chose the calas for their slightly sour and exotic flavor. Slathered with fresh preserves or key lime curd they were sublime. Rarely did I have enough room to eat my meal and my parents were always asking for a box to take it home.
The other day I was thinking about calas and the restaurant on the beach where we'd go for brunch. Since the restaurant is long gone, there was only one way I knew I could get calas and that was to make them myself. There are a variety of different ways to spice up your calas, you can use the traditional nutmeg or nutmeg and cinnamon or nutmeg, cinnamon and mace. You can make them sweet or not so sweet.
My family's reaction to the calas was mixed. My husband and I thought they were wonderful. Our children weren't so fond of them as they found them a bit sour for their taste, but they don't like sourdough bread either. Our favorite way to eat them, was sprinkled with powdered sugar with a dollop of our favorite fruit preserves or curd.
1/2 cup warm water (110 deg. F to 115 deg. F)
2 Tb cane sugar or agave syrup
1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 cup Ruby Red Jasmine Rice, mashed *
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp chia seed meal **
pinch sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Optional: 1/4 cup cane sugar
Vegetable Shortening for frying
Powdered Sugar for Dusting
Fruit Preserves or Curd for slathering
1. The night before or at a minimum a few hours before you want to make your calas, pour the water, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Let it stand until the yeast starts to foam, then add the mashed rice. Stir together and then cover the bowl. Allow it to stand at room temperature over night for a stronger sourdough like flavor or for at least a few hours for a milder soured flavor.
2. The next day or several hours later, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. The mixture should be like a pancake batter, but not thick. Cover and allow it to rise for an hour. (Note: If you would like sweeter calas, add the 1/4 cup of cane sugar at this point.)
3. Preheat your frying oil to 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Set out a tray that is covered with paper towels for draining the calas. Drop by spoonfuls into the oil and cook until the are a deep golden brown with slightly darker edges, turn them over once during cooking.
4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. Makes 15 small calas.
1. You can use a gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum added instead of the flours and chia seed meal. Use 3/4 cup of the flour blend.
2. You can substitute 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal.
3. Any rice you have on hand can be used instead of the Ruby Red Jasmine rice.
* Ruby Red Jasmine Rice - I purchased my Ruby Red Jasmine Rice from Whole Foods. It is from Alter Eco Fair Trade.
** Chia Seeds - I purchase my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH. Then I use a coffee grinder dedicated to spice grinding to process them into a meal. Once ground, I store the meal in an air tight container in my pantry.