Mercimek Koftesi (red lentil and bulgur wheat kofte)
Serves ~ 6 – 8 as an app
1 c red lentils
1 c bulgur wheat
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 – 5 scallions, finely chopped
2/3 bunch parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 c roasted red peppers (see instructions)
2 – 3 tbsp cumin, more to taste
1 tbsp sweet pepper flakes
Olive oil, salt and pepper for cooking
Lemon for garnish
- In a large pot or large sautee pan, cook the lentils as normal adding water as needed until they fall apart. Meanwhile, cook the bulgur about halfway until it is starting to get chewy but still hard in the center. Set the bulgur aside.
- Roast your own peppers or buy some jarred roasted peppers. You want to have about 1/2 c once chopped which depending on the size of the pepper is usually about 3 peppers. Finely chop the roasted peppers on a cutting board and then place the chopped peppers in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl to let the water drain out. Let stand.
- Sautee the chopped yellow onion with some olive oil until translucent. Set aside.
- When the lentils have cooked, add the half-cooked bulgur to the pot/pan of cooked lentils, combine and keep on low heat for ~ 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand. The idea is to let the bulgur cook completely by absorbing the liquid of the cooked lentils. If after ~ 10 minutes or so if the bulgur still seems relatively uncooked, you can add 1/4 c water at a time and/or return to very low heat. You need to use some judgement here but don’t worry about overcooking things. When the lentil-bulgur mixture is done, set aside to cool completely. I usually transfer it to a large bowl and place this in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Once the mixture has cooled, in a large bowl, add the cooled lentil-bulgur mixture, sauteed yellow onion, chopped parsley and scallions, tomato paste, strained pepper, cumin, pepper flakes, and generous salt and pepper to taste. I start mixing with a spoon and then use my hand to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Taste as you go along. You want this to be nicely seasoned, so you can add more scallion, salt or pepper, as you go. I almost always end up adding more cumin.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors combine. When ready to serve, take about 1/4 c – 1/3 c of the mixture in your hand and roll into torpedo-shaped kofte or a ball if you prefer. Serve with lemon wedge. Yogurt is also nice with this! The mixture keeps in the refrigerator for at least few days and I think gets better the second day so you can definitely make this ahead of time.