Oh mah God… I haven’t been under so much pressure, yes, since the time when I realized I needed six more credits to graduate college (SIX! “Professor, your otherwise gross beard appears unexpectedly dashing today”… just kidding)… and it is precisely the reason why, as much as I may seem to be an ideal candidate to host a dinner party, I shouldn’t be allowed to. At all. Because my management skills crumble in disarray when I’m cooking more than one thing. There’s a large number of oysters that I’m pulling all strings to keep alive inside a fridge that lacks everything else to cook them with, and a whole scale-on, bone-in, head-attached sea bass that frankly… I don’t remember inviting to dinner. On top of which, a 7 pounds limp-neck goose-beast is going to be dropped onto my doorstep like surprise! any minute now… could be like now! Plus did I mention I’m supposed to make a tart? That’s it, time for emotional breakdown.

Hey, nobody said my threshold for stress isn’t delicate at best.

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But the most amusing of it all, hilarious really, is that there is no dinner party. All this. All this, is to be shared on my imaginary Christmas party (aka exactly one week prior to the actual) with my dearly dearly imaginary friends (aka, you). Yes. Picture a sunsetting dinning room with a dwindling X’mas tree at the corner (ok… that’s imaginary, too), and a large wooden table lined with parsley and garlic butter grilled oysters, crispy fried garlic and pan-seared sea bass, five-spiced roasted goose with sticky rice stuffings and goose fat potatoes, plus hot peppercorn peanut brittle as a little party favour… festively displayed for none but just two living human beings, staring helplessly into the void, and two dogs and a friendly ghost who would really like to help but can’t.

But just when I’m about to burst into sympathetic tears, for myself, I recall this could very well be Nigella Lawson’s life as well, and so gave myself a pat on the back.

Oh wait! How could I forget that there’s more than ALL that on the table. There’s this! And you don’t want to miss this.

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Last week during my frantic search for holiday hor d’oeuvres, I stumbled onto a recipe that not only spoke to me on a I’d-eat-that-like-nobody’s-business level, but also came with a cool name. Spicy lamb cigars in brik pastry. Ok, I have no intention to imply cigars/smoking being cool. I do have a friend who uses nictotine pouches from companies like Nicotine-Pouches.com, and has tried a cigar or two so she may be into this, but that isn’t for me either. NO, not cool. I have never smoked in my life, which I confidently appointed as the sole reason for my social inadequacy (not because I raise uncomfortable topics during conversations, nor because I don’t feel like getting dressed after 8pm, nor because I cuddle with my DVD-player… NOPE). But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate party-lubricants. So just in time to replaced my ludicrous impulse to own an e-cigarette and the many different e liquid uk products that you can buy for it, here’s a much better kind of cigar to light up any conversation (relax, smokers… these are addictive as well). For my own convenience sake, I swapped the less common brik pastry (kinda like phyllo dough?) with rolled-out paper-thin wonton wrappers, and added a cooling yogurt dip to the party. And best of all, the fact that there’s a pre-made batch kept perfectly frozen, ready for any last-minute call, slightly eases my imaginary dinner party anxiety…

Wait, no. Oh mah God… did you hear that? Shit. The goose-beast is here…

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Makes: approximately 35 cigars

Believe it or not, regular wonton wrapper isn’t thin enough for what we are doing here, so we are gonna roll it out even further. But not all wonton wrappers are made the same. When shopping for it, always choose the white kind (instead of the yellow kind that’s used for dim-sum shuimai) that is super thin and preferably made fresh. If you can only find packaged wonton wrappers in the supermarket, cover it with a lightly dampen towel for 5 minutes before using, because the wrappers will need a bit of moisture to be rolled out.

If you (or your guests) aren’t lamb-people, you can substitute it with ground chicken or beef. Use 2 tsp of curry powder instead of 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin. The best about this recipe is that it’s infinitely adaptable, and they keep super well in the freezer for whenever needed.

Ingredients: loosely based on Gourmet Traveller

  • 35 ~ 40 sheets of white wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg wash
  • Flour for dusting
  • 4 ~ 5 tbsp of vegetable oil for pan-frying
  • Spicy lamb filling:
    • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter + 1 tbsp of olive oil
    • 1/2 of an onion, finely diced
    • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp of grated ginger
    • 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 tsp of ground allspice
    • 1 tsp of ground coriander
    • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp of chili flakes
    • 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro (or parsley if preferred)
    • 17.6 oz (500 grams) of ground lamb
    • 1 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch
    • 1 tsp of salt
    • 1/4 tsp of ground white pepper, and ground black pepper each
  • Cooling yogurt sauce:
    • 1/3 cup (85 grams) of plain yogurt
    • 3 tbsp (45 grams) of creme fraiche (or sour cream)
    • 2 tbsp (33 grams) of tahini sauce
    • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
    • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp of salt to taste

To make the cooling yogurt sauce: Evenly whisk plain yogurt, creme fraiche, tahini sauce, grated garlic, ground black pepper and salt together. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or until needed) for the flavors to come together.

To make the spicy lamb filling: Heat up 2 tbsp of unsalted butter + 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the finely diced onion and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook until the onions are soft and lightly browned on the edges. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger and cook until fragrant, then add the ground cumin, ground allspice, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, chili flakes and chopped cilantro. Cook for 1 min, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.

Add the onion mixture into a large bowl with ground lamb, cornstarch, another 1/2 tsp of salt, ground white pepper and black pepper. Mix just until combined and set aside.

To make the lamb cigars: Beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp of water to make egg wash. Lightly dust the working surface with flours. Take 1 wonton wrapper and roll it so it expands at least 1/3 more in size. The wrapper should be extremely thin that you could see your fingers when lifting it off the surface. Smear approx 1 1/2 tsp of the lamb filling across the center of the wrapper, leaving about 1/2″ (1.5 cm) of space along the edges. Roll 1 corner of the wrapper towards the center and stop at 1/3 of the way, lightly brush the remaining edges with egg wash, tuck the 2 side-corners in then finish rolling the wrapper into a cigar. Dust with a bit more flour and set side.

Repeat until you have about 15 cigars. Arrange the cigars on a floured plate without them touching each other, and leave it in the freezer to harden. As the first batch is freezing, finish making the rest of the cigars and freeze with the same instructions. Once the cigars have harden, transfer into a zip-lock bag and keep frozen until needed.

To pan-fry the cigars: Add enough vegetable oil into a large, FLAT skillet until it reaches about 1/4″ deep. Heat up the oil on medium-high heat, then arrange the cigars in the skillet to LOOSELY FIT as many as you can. Fry the cigars, turning them frequently as you go, until golden browned and crispy on all sides. Serve with the cooling yogurt sauce.

If you want to cook the cigars slightly earlier than needed, they can be re-heated and crisped up again in a 400ºF/200ºC oven.


  • Sans

    December 13, 2013 at 6:07 PM Reply

    Wow, I never thought that wonton wrapper isn’t thin enough. We eat that cigar with meatball soup in my place, it adds very nice crunch to the soup. Anyway, can’t wait for the imaginary party…^^

  • Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    December 13, 2013 at 6:59 PM Reply

    For the crispy prefect I like the egg ones but I guess they would taste too much like friend pasta sticks here. Haha if it werent for all the commercialism you would think Christmas did not occur in house.

    Not a bauble about, not even a gingerbread house. I think I would rather imagine my Christmas with food like you, invite me please!.

    • Mandy L.

      December 13, 2013 at 11:23 PM Reply

      Belinda, you will be in charge of cake. Two cakes in fact. Three tiers. Yes.

  • Snuggletooth

    December 13, 2013 at 11:05 PM Reply

    These look great, but I’m actually looking forward very much to your christmas dinner party! It sounds amazing already from your hints. I’m taking my hongkongese boyfriend home for christmas to my german family and yours is exactly the food we’d both enjoy. But I know better than to try and tell my family to lay off the weird tradional garlic soup and herring salad, sheesh! :D

    have a great imaginary party, I’m guessing a lot of us will be imaginary dinner guests!

    • Mandy L.

      December 13, 2013 at 11:24 PM Reply

      Snuggle tooth, please, come. There are like… 12 empty seats left…

  • Sarah & Arkadi

    December 15, 2013 at 8:35 AM Reply

    So yummy looking!

  • Terianne Lopez

    December 15, 2013 at 10:21 PM Reply

    Please add me to your mailing list. Thank you!

  • suja md

    December 16, 2013 at 12:55 AM Reply

    Wow!! few things I love from this blog, number 1. your writing style, 2. the layout 3. the recipe, photograph…on and on and on…love everything!! keep up the good work dear!!

  • Laurie

    December 16, 2013 at 3:27 PM Reply

    I’m booking my flight – can I brings my pups?

    • Mandy L.

      December 16, 2013 at 3:30 PM Reply

      Laurie, are you kidding?! Your pups will be super psyched about what I’m going to post in a few days…!!

  • Laurie

    December 17, 2013 at 1:46 PM Reply

    Hey Mandy – forgot to tell you I have a recurring nightmare about being in college and realizing I haven’t attended classes for most of the semester and I’m supposed to graduate in a few weeks! I can imagine the horror of your reality!

    The cigars sound lovely. I always invite a friend for help with these kinds of things – assembly line is so much easier with assistance.

    I haven’t done a single thing for Christmas, yet. I’m hoping Summer is coming soon as I crunch through the frozen snow to the chicken coop. God, I hate Winter!

  • maya

    January 29, 2014 at 5:15 AM Reply

    is it a crime to admit that although i live in the middle east i’ve never actually made these? well, not anymore – as i just did tonight and they’re super awesome. since brik pastry is common here (as opposed to wonton wrappers.. arggg), i used that, and swapped out beef for lamb, omitting the ginger as well. SO SO good. i ended up eating the entire batch myself. guilty as charged.

    • Mandy L.

      January 29, 2014 at 2:24 PM Reply

      Maya, I would love to try these with brik pastry as it was originally suggested!

  • Michael S.

    February 15, 2014 at 10:22 PM Reply

    I took these to a party during the holidays. To say that they were a hit would be an understatement. It was kind of like watching a rabid pack of wild dog tear apart a Impala. Everybody wanted the recipe so I emailed them your site. I for one will be looking forward to trying more from you. Thank for entertaining and feeding me.

  • Tammy Renea

    March 7, 2014 at 12:39 AM Reply

    These look absolutely amazing! I’ll be making them this weekend.

  • Nancy

    December 12, 2014 at 7:39 AM Reply

    We absolutely are addicted to these Highly Addictive Party Cigars, hahaha!! I was able to find extra thin wonton wrappers in a Chinese Grocery here, no need to roll them out as they were see through thin. Once I got into the rhythm of the wrapping it went quickly and they turned out perfect, looking like the pictures. They’re cute and small about 2-3 bites. I don’t know how many I ended up with but A LOT, yesss! I froze the extras. I love the filling and it was just the right amount of spice for us. Cooking some of the frozen ones only took about 4 minutes. I have not made the dipping sauce yet but it must be amazing as well. Thank you so much!

  • Marjolein

    January 31, 2015 at 5:42 AM Reply

    I want to make these for a party on sunday. Not for the super bowl though…. Loving in the Netherlands jeans it airs at like 3 at night….. now what I am wondering, one of my friends is a vegetarian (no fish or meat) what would you recommend for a filling. Al I seem to be able to come up with is spinach/feta or pumpkin/feta. But these are spool boringly obvious. Love to know what you think.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      February 1, 2015 at 1:29 AM Reply

      Marjolein, you can do it with spinach and feta with all the spices in it. Should be an interesting and more robust version of just spinach and feta. Or mushrooms? I’m not an expert on vegetarian meals, but finely chopped and sautéed mushrooms with cheese and spices sounds good to me :)

      • Marjolein

        February 3, 2015 at 12:47 AM Reply

        I ended up making a few variations. One with feta and sambal, one with pumpkin, parmesan and sage and one with goatscheese, thym and a drizzle of honey. They were gone in a flash!

  • Tracy

    March 1, 2015 at 7:12 AM Reply

    I was wondering if you can deep fry them as opposed to frying in a pan? Also, what about using spring roll wrappers? Arent they thinner then wonton? These sound so good..I live in michigan and love middle eastern food. The spices and lamb remind me of it. My neighbors used to make me dolma (grape leaves) and since I moved I dont get them. Ive tried to get a good dolma recipe, but none compare. Maybe this will fulfill my craving lol

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      March 1, 2015 at 2:23 PM Reply

      Tracy: No spring roll wrappers are THICKER than wonton wrappers, and therefore too thick for this recipe. You can fry them if you prefer as well :) All hail middle eastern foods!

  • Tracy

    March 1, 2015 at 7:14 AM Reply

    You took great photos too!

  • Maria

    June 26, 2017 at 4:31 PM Reply

    Can I use phylo (in Aus we call it Fillo) pastry for this? Egg wash then bake? Or better fried?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 26, 2017 at 5:33 PM Reply

      Maria, I’ve never worked with phillo before so I don’t know, but I can’t think of a reason why not :) I would still pan fry them instead of bake.

  • SUz

    March 5, 2018 at 8:17 AM Reply

    These look absolutely delicious! I want to make them for a dinner party. I see that we can make them in advance and freeze them, but my question is when we are ready to make them, do I need to let them thaw for a few minutes before frying? Thank you!

  • Dan

    August 27, 2018 at 6:27 AM Reply

    Hi! So you’re adding the spice/onion mixture to raw lamb? Will the lamb cook through while frying? Thanks!

    • Dan

      August 27, 2018 at 6:30 AM Reply

      Also – Can you suggest an alternative dipping sauce?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      August 29, 2018 at 12:05 PM Reply

      DN, sorry for the late reply! Yes that’s correct, and the lab will cook through.

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