Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Red Lentil Balls

I took these lentil balls to a potluck this weekend. Although they were prominently labeled "VEGAN," they were quickly devoured. I got the recipe from a Turkish food blog. The Turkish name for them is Kırmızı Mercimekli Köfte.They are good warm or cold.

If you want to make them spicy, the traditional ingredient to use is harissa, a chili paste from Morocco - but any hot sauce or chili paste will do. When I went to the Middle Eastern store they had a whole shelf of various chili sauces from around the world, including sriracha (which actually would probably not be good in this dish, because of the sugar.) But their harissa was much more expensive than the other chili pastes, so I went home and used the hot sauce I already had.


2 cups water
1 cup split red lentils (sometimes called Egyptian lentils or masoor dal.)
1/2 cup fine bulghur (look for it at Middle Eastern stores)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 teaspoon of tomato paste (optional) and/or chili paste
1 teaspoon cumin (whole or ground)
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup fresh, chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup green onions (scallions)
lettuce leaves (I prefer to use Boston lettuce, because it forms natural "cups." Endive might also be good.)


Bring two cups of water to boil in a pot, and add the lentils. Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed, and the lentils are mushy, about 20 minutes. Turn off the stove, and stir the bulghur into lentils. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes to allow the bulghur to soften and expand.

In the meantime, fry the cumin seeds, finely chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Add tomato paste at the last minute, stir and turn off the stove.

Stir the fried onion and garlic into the lentil mixture along with the spices and salt. Taste, and adjust salt and spices. Stir in the parsley and green onions. Oil your hands and shape the mixture into egg-shaped balls. Sprinkle with paprika, and place the balls in lettuce leaves. Pick up a lettuce leaf and enjoy!

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