The rich flavors and diverse menu options of Turkish cuisine have made it a global phenomenon. Some people in Turkey call lentil balls by the name “mercimek köftesi,” which literally means “thank you köftes.” Traditionally made with bulgur wheat, this vegan version of the snack (named “lentil balls”) is a protein- and flavor-packed alternative thanks to the use of lentils.
You don’t need a bun to have these lentil balls. We make this recipe for lunch and enjoy it with a cup of Turkish tea. It goes well with a green salad or you can wrap it with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Bring a cup of tea and let’s check the recipe.
In this post, we’ll show you how to make Turkish vegan lentil balls, so you can enjoy Turkish food even if you’re trying to follow a plant-based diet.
- 1 cup of cleaned red lentils
- You could use quinoa or gluten-free breadcrumbs in place of the 1/2 cup of fine bulgur wheat if you need to avoid gluten.
- 1 small onion, diced finely
- 2 minced cloves of garlic
- Two tablespoons of tomato paste
- Olive oil, 1 tablespoon
- Chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons
- 1 ground teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground paprika 1/8 teaspoon of ground coriander
- season to taste with pepper and salt
- Optional (serving) lemon juice.
- Fresh parsley leaves can be used as a garnish if desired.
To cook red lentils, put them with 2 cups of water in a pot. The lentils should be mushy and cooked through after being brought to a boil, then simmered for 15–20 minutes. Remove any surplus liquid.
Get Your Lentil Blend Ready: Cook the lentils and add them to a mixing bowl along with the fine bulgur wheat (or a gluten-free equivalent), minced onion, tomato paste, olive oil, fresh parsley, cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper. It’s important to combine everything well. The mixture must be cohesive enough to be shaped into balls.
The lentil balls can be made by scooping out small portions of the lentil mixture and rolling them into balls. If the mixture is too sticky, you can wash your hands or rub some olive oil into your palms to keep them from sticking.
The lentil balls should be chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour before being placed on a dish or baking sheet. After being refrigerated, the balls will become more rigid and will be better able to maintain their shape.
When the lentil balls have chilled and become firm, arrange them on a serving platter and top with the garnishes of your choice. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves for added color and visual appeal. Just before serving, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the lentil balls for an extra tang.
Vegan lentil balls from Turkey are versatile enough to serve as a main dish when paired with a salad and yogurt sauce, or as a snack when served with a variety of other mezze. Savor the tastes and indulge in them. They’re great on their own or as a treat to share with loved ones. You can serve them hot or at room temperature.
Turkish vegan lentil balls are a wonderful and plant-based reworking of a traditional Turkish dish. By substituting lentils for bulgur wheat, you can have a dinner that is both high in protein and flavorful, while also being true to the essence of Turkish cooking. Whether you’re following a vegan diet or just looking to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, Turkish vegan lentil balls are a delightful option. Prepare these tasty and nutritious lentil balls and dive into the authentic flavors of Turkey.
- It might be hard to have greens available at home during the quarantine so you can just omit it.
- If you do not have pomegranate sauce, just add more lemon juice.
- Pomegranate sauce is sour and commonly used in Levant cuisine for salads and mezes.