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Turkish Lentil Meatballs (Vegan Mercimek Kofte)

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Gönül
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 5 servings of 5 lentil balls (25 balls total) 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Here's our family recipe for Turkish lentil balls —a delicious classic full of protein thanks to red lentils and bulgur! Vegan with a gluten-free option. Perfect as a snack or a main, and always a crowd-pleaser!


  • 200 g (1 cup) dry red lentils 
  • 400 ml (1 3/4 cups) water 
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) fine bulgur (ince / köftelik bulgur
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion (~250 g), shredded 
  • 3 tbsp (45 g) tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) Turkish pepper paste (or sub with more tomato paste) 
  • 1 tsp salt (2 tsp Kosher) 
  • 3 stalks of scallion, chopped 
  • 1 bunch (30 g) flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped 
  • 1/2 bunch (15 g) mint leaves, chopped  
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper flakes

To Serve:

  • 2 cups salad greens (e.g. Romaine leaves)
  • lemon wedges


  1. Place the lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium-low heat with the lid on for about 30 minutes.
  2. When the lentils are cooked (falling apart), turn off the heat and add the bulgur. Mix well, then leave to cool with the lid on.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, add half of the olive oil and onions together. Season with some salt and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the tomato paste and pepper paste, then leave to cool.
  4. When all ingredients are cool enough to handle, mix everything including the salt, scallions, parsley, mint, Aleppo pepper, and rest of the olive oil. If the mixture looks dry, add more olive oil.
  5. Shape the mixture into balls in your palm. Serve with salad greens and lemon wedges.


For a gluten-free version, substitute the bulgur with cooked quinoa or rice! It may not stick together as well in the end, but a bit of cornstarch will solve that problem right away.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer, Lunch, Dinner
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Turkish