Mouth-watering Turkish Red Lentil Kofte for a hearty meal

Welcome to my flavorful and hearty Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte recipe – the ultimate plant-based version of the classic Turkish dish! As a vegan chef, I love finding unique and tasty ways to recreate traditional dishes using only plant-based ingredients. And this recipe does not disappoint in terms of taste or nutrition.

Mercimek koftesi, also known as red lentil kofte or Turkish lentil balls, are a delicious and beloved dish in Turkish cuisine. Typically made with minced raw meat, bulgur, spices, and herbs, this vegan version uses red lentils instead of meat, making it a healthy alternative that is packed full of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.

With my recipe, you can enjoy all the delicious flavors of mercimek kofte without any animal products. So whether you are a vegan looking for new meal ideas or simply looking for healthier alternatives to traditional dishes, this recipe is perfect for you!

Stick around for the rest of the article as I share tips for perfect results and serving suggestions to make your experience even more amazing. Let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte (Vegan)
Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte (Vegan)

My dear foodie friend, let me take a moment to convince you why this Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte (Vegan) recipe will become a staple in your kitchen.

Are you looking for a delectable dish that’s nutritious, vegan and gluten-free? Look no further than these delicious lentil balls. Not only do they pack a mouthful of flavor, but they are also packed with nutrients like fiber, protein and vitamins.

Are you tired of the same old boring salads for lunch or dinner? Our Mercimek Köftesi will take your taste buds on an exotic Middle Eastern adventure. The combination of fresh parsley, green onions and lemon juice give it a burst of refreshing flavor that will leave you begging for more.

Are you looking for a time-saving recipe? Our red lentil kofte is easy to make and takes less than an hour from start to finish. With simple ingredients like fine bulgur, lentils, tomato paste and cumin, you can whip up this delicious dish any day of the week.

Are you thinking about health and sustainability? This vegan lentil balls recipe is not only better for your body but also better for the planet. By using plant-based ingredients instead of meat, we decreased our carbon footprint while still satisfying your hunger cravings.

Overall, this vegan Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte packs a lot of flavor and nutrition into one meal. Don’t just take my word for it. Try it out yourself and see why people around the world are obsessed with this amazing Turkish delicacy.

Ingredient List

 Meticulously curated and delicately crafted - Mercimek Köftesi won't disappoint!
Meticulously curated and delicately crafted – Mercimek Köftesi won’t disappoint!

Here are all the ingredients you need to make this tasty vegan dish:

Red Lentils: 1 cup

Bulgur: 1 cup (fine bulgur)

Water: 2 cups

Onion (finely chopped): 1 medium

Tomato paste: 4 tbsp

Red pepper paste (Biber Salçası): 2 tbsp (add more or less depending on your preference)

Cumin: 1 tsp

Sea salt: 1 tsp

Olive oil: ½ cup for the mixture, and extra for serving

Fresh parsley: a handful, finely chopped

Green onion: (scallions) a handful, finely chopped

Lemon juice: ½ lemon (approx. 2 tbsp)

Lettuce leaves: for wrapping

The Recipe How-To

 The colors and textures of these Red Lentil Koftes will make your tastebuds dance!
The colors and textures of these Red Lentil Koftes will make your tastebuds dance!

Step 1 – Preparing the Lentils:

Begin by washing and draining 1 cup of red lentils. Add the lentils to a pot and pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer until tender. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, drain any excess liquid.

Step 2 – Preparing the Bulgur:

In a separate bowl, add 1 cup of fine bulgur and enough hot water to cover it entirely; set aside for around 30 minutes until the bulgur has softened.

Step 3 – Combining Lentils and Bulgur:

When both the bulgur and lentil are ready, mix thoroughly in a large mixing bowl, then add 4 tbsp olive oil and ½ cup tomato paste. Mix again until well combined.

Step 4 – Adding Flavorful Spices:

Add finely chopped 1 medium onion, 2 tbsp red pepper paste, 2 tbsp cumin, ½ tsp sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then mix everything together very well.

Step 5 – Shaping into Balls:

Take a small bunch of the mixture at one time and squeeze between hands to make golf-ball-sized “merci̇mek köftesi” means Turkish red lentil kofte balls or patties.

Step 6 – Serving your Mercimek Köftesi:

Make sure that you serve your vegan Turkish red lentil kofta balls garnished with a few lettuce leaves or with parsley sprigs on top.

Enjoy your delectable vegan Mercimek Köftesi!

Substitutions and Variations

 Meatballs are out - Red Lentil Koftes are in! Try these tasty bites for a vegan twist.
Meatballs are out – Red Lentil Koftes are in! Try these tasty bites for a vegan twist.

If you’re looking to switch things up a bit, there are plenty of substitutions and variations that can be made to this Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte recipe. Here are a few ideas:

1. Bulgur Alternatives: While fine bulgur is traditionally used in the recipe, you could also experiment with other grains such as couscous or quinoa if you’re looking for a gluten-free option. Or, if you want to avoid grains altogether, try using cauliflower rice instead.

2. Different Vegetables: You can mix things up by adding other vegetables to the kofte mixture. Finely grated zucchini, carrot, or beetroot would add extra nutrition and color to the dish.

3. Spicier Options: If you love spice, try adding some chili flakes or fresh sliced red chili peppers for an extra kick. You could also use red pepper paste instead of tomato paste for more heat and depth of flavor.

4. Switch Up The Herbs: If parsley isn’t your thing, try using fresh mint or dill instead for a different flavor profile. Chopped fresh cilantro would also add an interesting twist.

5. Meatless Meatballs: For a vegetarian/vegan meatball twist, use lentils instead of beef in regular meatball recipes like Çiğ Köfte or Mercimekli Köfte.

6. Add Some Nuts: Swap half amount of bulgur with breadcrumbs and add one tablespoon crushed walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio or sunflower seeds for some crunchiness and nuttiness in every bite.

With these ideas in mind, feel free to get creative and make this recipe your own – it’s almost impossible to go wrong with Mercimek Köftesi Vegan Turkish Red Lentil Kofte!

Serving and Pairing

 A bowl of Mercimek Köftesi is perfect for sharing with friends and family.
A bowl of Mercimek Köftesi is perfect for sharing with friends and family.

One of the great things about Mercimek Köftesi is that it can be served in various ways, making it perfect for any meal occasion. My personal favorite way to serve these delicious lentil balls is by placing them on top of fresh lettuce leaves and garnishing with green onions and chopped fresh parsley. The colorful combination provides a refreshing and wholesome presentation that will surely impress your guests.

Furthermore, a squeeze of lemon juice on top adds a tangy and bright flavor that perfectly balances the earthy taste of the red lentil kofta. If you like a little bit of spice, feel free to add some red pepper flakes or biber salçası (pepper paste) to the mix to kick it up a notch.

When it comes to pairing, Mercimek Köftesi goes well with a variety of dishes. It’s versatile enough to be served alongside other vegan Turkish favorites such as tabbouleh or hummus, which will round out the flavors nicely. For those looking for a heartier meal, try serving them with couscous or bulgur instead of meat – both options are gluten-free and provide great nutritional value.

Overall, Mercimek Köftesi vegan Turkish lentil balls are perfect for entrees or appetizers and pair well with multiple dishes. The combinations are endless!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 These spicy, savory delicacies are easier to make than you think!
These spicy, savory delicacies are easier to make than you think!

When it comes to make-ahead and storing, these lentil kofta balls can be a real time-saver. If you want to prepare them ahead of time, you can store the kofta balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.

To reheat, simply pan-fry the lentil kofta balls until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10-15 minutes or until heated to your desired temperature.

As for the bulgur preparation, if you are making it ahead of time, allow it to cool completely before transferring it into an airtight container and storing in the fridge for up to 7 days.

When reheating, bring the bulgur back to room temperature first before adding boiling water to fluff it up again. You can also add a bit of olive oil or vegetable broth for added moisture and flavor.

Overall, these vegan lentil balls make a beautiful and easy-to-store meal prep option. By simply reheating them when ready to eat, you’ll have a delicious meal on hand without any extra effort required.

Tips for Perfect Results

 By combining simple ingredients, you can make a combination of delicious flavors in one bite.
By combining simple ingredients, you can make a combination of delicious flavors in one bite.

In order to create the perfect Mercimek Köftesi recipe, it’s essential to pay attention to the details. Here are some tips that will help you achieve ideal and flavorful red lentil balls every time:

1. Use fresh ingredients

Make sure that all of your ingredients are fresh and of high quality. The flavor of the Mercimek Köftesi is heavily dependent on the onion, red pepper paste, and tomato paste. So it’s crucial to use fresh components for a rich experience.

2. Consistency is king

As we know, Bulgar plays an essential role in the texture of our köfte. Be sure to soak it for at least 30-45 minutes before making it so that it becomes fluffy and tender.

It must be crumbled finely using an ultra-sharp knife or food processor after soaking.

3. Mix until fully combined

The mixture should be mixed thoroughly with your hands to ensure even consistency in your vegan Turkish meatballs (aka our Mercimek Koftesi). Knead until a homogeneous mixture forms away from irregularities.

4. Take your time shaping them

Before shaping into small balls with lemon zest-sized portions of the lentil mixture, lightly grease your palms with olive oil, and rinse them occasionally with cold water.

Taking your time to shape them adequately helps keep them firm and gives you perfect kofte spheres while retaining their consistency.

5. Let them sit

After you’ve shaped the vegan lentil balls, cover them over with plastic wrap and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for an hour or more. By keeping within a fridge, they solidify, mature, and absorb all of the flavorings’ flavors.

6. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves

To serve, place chilled Mercimek Köftesi on lettuce leaves coated with fresh green onions, parsley leaves, lemon juice, red pepper flakes or mere chopped tomatoes.

These tips make your Vegan Turkish Red Lentil Kofte exceptional- a perfect Appetizer for guests with unique taste buds that enjoy healthy ingredients!


Now, let’s move on to the FAQ section where I will answer some common questions that you may have about this Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte recipe. From ingredient substitutions to cooking techniques, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out more!

What is the difference between cig kofte and mercimek kofte?

The Mercimek Köftesi is a vegan Turkish dish that consists of a combination of bulgur and red lentils shaped into balls. It should be noted that this dish differs from Çiğ Köfte, a more commonly known Turkish dish that includes raw meat.

What is mercimek kofte made of?

This Turkish dish called Mercimek Kofte is a delicious and wholesome option for those looking for a vegan meal. It comprises of fine bulgur, red lentils, onions, tomato & red pepper paste, and a blend of spices that give it a unique and flavorful taste.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofta recipe is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the world of vegan cuisine. This recipe is not only flavorful and healthy but also culturally rich, taking you on a virtual trip to Turkey with every bite.

By using simple and affordable ingredients like red lentils, fine bulgur, onions, tomatoes, and spices, you can create a dish that is loaded with fiber, protein, and nutrients. What’s more, this recipe is easy to prepare and can be customized to fit your dietary preferences or lifestyle.

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or just looking for new meal ideas, mercimek koftesi is the perfect dish to add to your repertoire. So gather your ingredients, bring out your inner chef, and enjoy this scrumptious vegan Turkish delight. Happy cooking!

Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte (Vegan)

Mercimek Köftesi Turkish Red Lentil Kofte (Vegan) Recipe

I got this from the Almost Turkish food blog, looks yummy! I looove red lentils though I'll probably cheat and use rice, kasha, or barley since I tend to not keep bulgur around heh. This is a completely dairy-free recipe that is both vegan and kosher. I guess any kind of onion would work but I imagine a tangy red onion would compliment the lentils well, or sweet yellow for a nice complex flavor, but white will work just fine.
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Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Turkish
Servings 7 koftes
Calories 177.5 kcal


  • 1 cup red lentil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 -2 teaspoon lemon juice (juice of half or whole lemon to your taste)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons fresh parsley (approx, divided)
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped (about 4-5 green onions, white parts cut off)
  • 7 curly lettuce leaves (like whole romaine or Boston, need nice big ones)


  • Boil the lentils in the water, uncovered, until they soak up most of the water, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Add the bulgar and salt. Mix once and loosely cover to let the bulgar expand, then remove from the heat and let rest on a potholder about 10 minutes to let it cool off.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the cumin and remove pan from heat. Stir once the heat is off.
  • Add the onion-tomato paste-cumin mixture to the pot with lentils and bulgar, which should be cool by now. Add a few shakes of cayenne pepper to heat it up if you like.
  • Add half of your parsley (about 1-1.5 tablespoons worth), the green onions, and lemon juice to the pot, and mix well.
  • Take pieces of the kofte out of the pot and form them into kofte shape. The same size and shape as a Twinkie works, though traditional kofte is about half the size of a Twinkie.
  • You can then arrange the lettuce leaves on a big plate and serve that way, but the real deal way to eat them is wrapping each kofte up in a lettuce leaf.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 157gCalories: 177.5kcalCarbohydrates: 26.9gProtein: 8.8gFat: 4.7gSaturated Fat: 0.7gSodium: 365.1mgFiber: 5.6gSugar: 1.3g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beans, From Scratch, Kosher, Lentils, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Vegan
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