Cinnamon-Sugar Calas

These sweet fritters are believed to have arrived in the American South with African slaves during the 1700s. Made with leftover rice that is added to sweetened batter and deep-fried until golden before being coated in confectioners’ sugar, calas (pronouced kah-lahs) gained popularity as a street food staple sold by African women in New Orleans. It’s said that they would walk through the street calling, “Belle calas! Tout chauds!” (“Beautiful calas! Very hot!”)

Cinnamon-Sugar Calas
Makes about 32
  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 110°)
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1⅓ cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 2 cups long-grain rice, cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, flour, ⅓ cup sugar, salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Using a wooden spoon, stir in eggs and yeast mixture until well combined. (Dough should resemble a wet biscuit dough.) Cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours. (Dough will double in size and form bubbles on top.)
  3. Fill a large Dutch oven halfway with oil, and heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 cup sugar and remaining 1½ teaspoons cinnamon. Working in batches, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot oil; fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from oil, and let drain on paper towels. Toss hot calas in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.



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