TURKEY: Mercimek Köftesi



  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper paste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 cups water, boiling
  • Lettuce leaves for serving


  1. Rinse the red lentils in a colander and place them in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook until the lentils are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Once the lentils are cooked, drain any excess water and set them aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked lentils, bulgur, onion, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if using), parsley, fresh and dried mint, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Gradually pour boiling water into the mixture while stirring constantly. The mixture should be moist and pliable, but not too wet.
  5. Knead the mixture with your hands for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and cohesive.
  6. Take a small handful of the mixture and shape it into a ball or oval-shaped meatball.
  7. Place the meatballs on a serving plate lined with lettuce leaves.
  8. Serve the mercimek köftesi cold as an appetizer or snack, or as a main course with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber on the side.

Enjoy your delicious and healthy Turkish lentil and bulgur meatballs!



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