Turkish Red Lentil Kofte
Turkish Red lentil kofte is a popular dish served as an accompaniment to meat dishes or alone. Growing up in a very traditional Turkish household, I snacked on these by having frequent trips to the fridge as my mother always had some leftovers after a tea party or buffet dinner in the fridge. In fact, these taste better the day after they are made as all the aromatics infuse together and penetrate through the lentils and bulghur.

It is highly nutritious and filling – as it is high in plant-based protein and complex carbs thanks to the red lentils and bulghur. It is incredibly flavourful because of all the spices and aromatic ingredients in it.  This crowd-pleaser can be prepared in advance and served cold.  It is best served wrapped in lettuce leaves with some lemon juice or pomegranate sauce drizzled over. It keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. This makes it your perfect go-to healthy snack!

For pomegranate sauce/molasses I prefer 2 brands – both available on Amazon – see the respective links below.  But please don’t feel limited to my choices:

If you don’t have any pomegranate sauce,  a few drops of lemon juice will certainly refresh and invigorate your palate.


Makes: 25 pieces    Prep-Time:15 minutes    Cooking Time:30 minutes


  • 1 ½ cup red lentils
  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 3 small-medium onions, very finely chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil, for sautéing the onions
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, for the mixture
  • 1 pinch brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1-2 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 bunch parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 6-7 stalks spring onions, finely sliced
  • Lettuce leaves, for serving
  • Pomegranate sauce, for serving


  1. Put the lentils in a saucepan, add 3 cups of cold water, and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the lentils have absorbed all the water and thoroughly cooked. If necessary, add a little bit more water. Turn off the heat.
  2. Immediately, stir in the bulgur then close the lid tightly and let everything steam for 15-20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, sauté the onion with a pinch of sugar, for 5 minutes in medium heat until pink and soft. Add the tomato paste and sauté for a further 2 minutes, and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Stir the onion into the lentil-bulgur mix. Add the salt, black pepper, cumin, sumac, chili flakes and cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix and knead everything until the consistency of the mixture is doughy enough to form the koftes. At this stage check the taste, if desired, you can add more spices.
  5. Finally, mix in the spring onions and parsley. Mix well with your hands and form the mixture between your hands into small-medium size koftes.
  6. Let the koftes cool in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before serving. Drizzle more lemon juice/pomegranate sauce and serve with lettuce leaves.


1 Comment

  • emine

    I made this for my kids who are normally very picky eaters – but this is easy to make and really delicious! It is refreshing and most enjoyable when cold, I would recommend having it when it’s hot.

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