Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.
Sometimes a cigar isn't just a cigar! These little "wrap-ups" are cigar shaped morsels of goodness and (as we thought everyone would be a bit sick of both turkey and holiday cooking by now) a terrific quick recipe that's sure to please.
The truly ambitious cooks can make their own phyllo dough but, we can assure you, we buy the frozen dough when we make this recipe! New York Times - Cooking has a great recipe for making your own dough, including a handy video on rolling out the phyllo - something we find rather challenging!
We love sharing our family recipes with you but please remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish and other terrific African recipes. An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo Cookbook. My East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes. We just came across a terrific culinary resource - African Cuisine Made Easy. AllRecipes and Food.com are also good resources. Just a simple web search will turn up a wide variety of recipes for you to try.
We like to have something to "dip" these little cigars into. Sometimes we make a cucumber and sour cream concoction and we also like to serve these with our homemade hummus. Jamie Oliver's hummus recipe (also sometimes spelled houmous) is our "go-to" reference recipe. We like the consistency and the flavour is amazing.
- 1 sixteen ounce package of frozen phyllo dough
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of crushed plum tomatoes
- cooking spray (we use canola)
- 1/2 pound of lean ground beef
As always, this is just a basic ingredient list. We often fiddle with the spices, sometimes adding a bit more cumin and bit less cinnamon. It's entirely a matter of taste so don't hesitate to experiment!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a baking sheet.
- After heating up the olive oil in a frying pan, cook the ground beef until good and brown. No pink bits!
- Drain the fat from the ground beef and then add all the spices and the tomatoes.
- Let this mixture cook on a simmering heat for around 10 minutes.
- Make sure to cover the phyllo dough with a damp cloth or it will dry out very quickly!
- Take out one sheet of phyllo and cut it into two equal pieces. Spray one piece lightly with cooking spray and then put second sheet on top of first sheet. Spray second sheet lightly with cooking spray.
- Now, take a heaping teaspoon of the meat and tomato mixture and place it near the narrow end of your phyllo sheets. Fold the phyllo dough over the meat and then turn in the sides of the phyllo sheet. Now roll your phyllo with the teaspoon of meat mixture inside up into a cigar shape.
- Make as many of these little cigar packages until you run out of meat mixture.
- Place your "cigars" on your greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes. They should be lightly browned when done.
Although none of the recipes we've seen recommend this, we often use parchment paper rather than greasing our baking sheet.
Originally, we were introduced to these by friends who serve them as an appetizer but we often have them as a main dish with a little salad or slaw on the side. As a main dish, the recipe will serve 4 people.
Enjoy! And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make.
A great way to show off your African culinary skills is to present this dish at a table set with our hand-beaded . Each package consists of table mats, table runner, colour coordinated napkins and beautiful hand-beaded napkin rings.
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Vegetable Photo Source: Wikipedia (Creative Commons - Labeled for Reuse).