A simple recipe for Turkish Mercimek Koftesi (or Mercimekli Kofte) made with red lentils and bulgur – These delicious vegan meatballs are easy to make and don’t need to be fried or baked. Drizzled with fresh lemon juice and wrapped in crunchy lettuce, these lentil balls make a healthy, low-calorie side dish or snack!
Turkish Lentil and Bulgur Balls
I love trying out recipes from other countries! And since these Turkish Lentil Bulgur Meatballs convinced me, I want to share the recipe with you now! They taste very spicy, a bit sour, mildly spicy and can also be easily made ahead and taken away. So they’re perfect as an appetizer, side dish, main course or addition to a buffet!
Vegan Kofte – Simple, healthy and delicious!
Unlike many other recipes for meatballs or kofte, Turkish Mercimek Koftesi are neither fried nor baked, but eaten raw. Traditionally, they are served on a large plate with lettuce and lemon slices. You can simply wrap the lentil balls in a lettuce leaf, drizzle some lemon juice on top and eat them straight from your hand.
If you like, you can also serve various dips and sauces with them, such as vegan tzatziki or hummus.
Mercimek Koftesi vs Cig Köfte
Turkish Mercimek Koftesi are visually very similar to Cig Kofte, as they usually also have the characteristic shape created by kneading the meatball mixture with fingers. However, cig kofte are often made with meat, while only bulgur is used for the vegan and vegetarian version. However, you can also shape the red lentil bulgur mixture into balls if you prefer – as shown in the photo below:
Ingredients for Mercimekli Kofte
- Red lentils
- Fine bulgur
- Olive oil or canola oil
- Tomato paste
- Paprika paste
- Hot paprika powder or chili powder
- Fresh parsley
- Salt & pepper
How to make Mercimek Koftesi – Turkish Lentil Bulgur Ball
As always, I recommend checking out these step-by-step instructions first. Then you’ll find the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Boil lentils & bulgur + sauté vegetables
First, boil the lentils for 15 minutes. Then stir in the bulgur and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic. Then add tomato paste, paprika paste and the spices and sauté briefly to unfold flavors.
Step 2: Make the lentil and bulgur mixture
Now put the cooked lentils and bulgur in a bowl along with the onion-tomato-paprika mixture. Add parsley, scallions, salt and pepper and mix everything to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Tip: You can also put the dough in the refrigerator overnight and shape it the next day.
Step 3: Shape kofte
Shape the lentil and bulgur mixture into kofte (or sausages, patties or balls) using wet hands.
Idea: You could also brush the lentil kofte (or balls or patties) with a little oil and bake them in the oven like falafel.
Step 4: Garnish and serve
Arrange on salad with tzatziki or other dips/sauces and garnish with cucumbers, fresh parsley or cilantro, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and lemon slices as desired. Enjoy!
How can I store kofte?
Vegan Lentil Bulgur Balls or Mercimekli Kofte will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. Since they don’t need to be refrigerated all the time, they’re also perfect to take away! For longer storage, you can also freeze them.
These Turkish lentil and bulgur balls are:
- Gluten-free when using polenta instead of bulgur
- Quick and easy to make
- Perfectly spiced
- Absolutely delicious
- The perfect finger food side dish for lunch or dinner!
More vegan Turkish recipes to try
- Stuffed Eggplants with Bulgur
- Lahmacun (Turkish pizza)
- Borek with Spinach and Vegan Feta
- Turkish Bulgur Salad (Kisir)
- Vegan Cevapcici
- … here are some vegan side dishes and dips that go well with these recipes: Flatbread, Tofu Feta, Baba Ganoush, Hummus, Ajvar, Garlic Dip, Herb Dip, Guacamole, and of course Vegan Tzatziki!
If you try this easy Mercimek Koftesi recipe, feel free to leave me a comment and a star rating! And if you take a picture of your dish and share it on Instagram, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I would love to see your result! Have fun trying this recipe! 😊
Vegan Lentil and Bulgur Meatballs (Turkish Mercimek Koftesi)Author:
- 1 cup (200 g) red lentils
- 1 cup (200 g) fine bulgur or finely ground polenta, if gluten-free
- 2 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
- 2 onions finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp paprika paste
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp hot paprika powder or chili powder to taste
- ½ bunch parsley finely chopped
- 2-3 scallions finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper or more to taste
To serve (of choice)
- vegan tzatziki or other dips/sauces
- fresh parsley or coriander
- sesame seeds
- pomegranate seeds
*Note: Check out the recipe video + step-by-step instructions above!
- Put the lentils in a fine-meshed sieve, wash thoroughly and drain. Transfer to a pot with 2 cups (500 ml) of fresh water and cook for 15 minutes. Then stir in the bulgur, cover, and set aside for about 10 minutes (you can add a little more hot water if needed).
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions for about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add tomato paste, paprika paste, cumin and paprika powder and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Put the cooked lentils and bulgur in a bowl along with the onion-tomato-paprika mixture. Add parsley, scallions, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Shape the lentil-bulgur mixture with wet hands into kofte (or into sausages, balls or patties).
- Arrange on salad with vegan tzatziki or other dips/sauces and garnish with cucumber, fresh parsley or cilantro, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and lemon slices as desired.
- Drizzle with lemon juice before eating and enjoy!
- You can store kofte for 5 days in the refrigerator.
- More tips and information about this recipe are mentioned in the blog post above!
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