Easy to make and packed with flavor, mercimek koftesi are the perfect appetizer, side dish, topper for a salad, or complete meal on their own! My favorite way to eat them is by using them as a topper for a parsley, mint, cucumber, and tomato salad (recipe below), and of course, served with plenty of fresh lemon wedges!
Makes about 30 pieces
1 cup dry red lentils
1 1/2 cups fine bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons red pepper paste (sub with tomato paste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups parsley, finely chopped
7-8 sprigs of spring onions, thinly sliced (including green and white parts)
Lemon wedges for serving
- In a large pot, place red lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cover, cooking until red lentils are totally softened (it won't take very long, but be sure that there are no "tough" bits left because it will make the final result difficult to digest- it's better to be on the safe side and cook them longer if you are not sure!).
- Next, remove pot from heat and stir in the fine bulgur. Cover pot again with lid and the heat from the lentils will actually cook the bulgur. Let sit for about 20-30 minutes while you continue with the next steps.
- In a small pan, heat olive oil and then saute diced onion until translucent. Next, stir in the red pepper paste, tomato paste, salt, cumin, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes until well combined.
- Pour the red pepper and tomato paste mixture into the pot with the red lentils and bulgur, and using your hands, knead everything together until you have a very uniform mixture. You will need to add water to facilitate this process- start with 1/2 cup then add 1-2 tablespoons at a time- you don't want it to become too wet. (Note: the lentils and bulgur may be very hot, so be sure they have cooled down enough so you don't burn your hands when kneading everything together!).
- Now add the fresh herbs (parsley and spring onion), and knead with your hands again to combine.
- Finally, golf ball sized pieces of the mixture into your hands and form them into oval shapes (about 40 grams of mixture per each kofte).
- Refrigerate and serve cold with lemon wegdes.