Turkish Mercimek Koftesi are lentil balls made vegan. They are easy to make, incredibly delicious, aromatic, spicy and herby. Also packed with plant-based protein and fibres thanks to the lentil content.
If you love a cold vegan appetiser with those delicious Turkish flavours, then this is the dish for you. Super quick and easy to make, the lentil meatballs are packed with flavour and protein. Enjoy them for your dinner parties or as a snack. I sometimes make them for lunch and serve them with a cold salad on the side. A perfect nutritious and healthy meal to give you energy.
What's best is that these Turkish lentil balls are incredibly affordable to make. You'll need lentils and couscous as your base, then a few extras from your pantry to enhance the flavour. Here's how to make these super simple lentil balls you are going to love.
Ingredients for Turkish Mercimek Koftesi
As I mentioned, super affordable ingredients for this recipe, which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. Ready? Let's get started and gather what we need to make the perfect lentil balls.
Lentils - This is the most important ingredient in your Turkish Mercimek Koftesi. It's your source of protein and what gives it a nice earthy flavour, to begin with. I don't recommend replacing this ingredient with anything else. Use bio lentil if you have them.
Cous cous - Normal small cous cous is perfect. You can replace it with bulgur if you prefer, although I prefer the taste and texture of cous cous for this dish. Don't replace it with Israeli giant cous cous as that won't work very well with this dish.
Tomato paste - Simple tomato paste from your local shop. It should be paste and not sauce. It should have that thick paste consistency.
Red pepper paste - You can make your own pepper paste or you can just buy it. I like to buy a Hungarian one called Piros Arany (Red Gold). It's spicy and my favourite when it comes to using it in food. I sometimes use it as a spread on bread even.
Chilli flakes - This will spice up your dish, so make sure you are comfortable with the level of spiciness. I recommend just standard chilli flakes.
Paprika - Is there any dish I don't use paprika in? I recommend smoked paprika or spicy paprika. Try to buy Hungarian paprika if possible as it is world-renowned. It's a little bit more expensive but it actually gives a great erathy-sweet flavour profile to your dish.
Ground coriander - Another spice I use in almost all my dishes, the mighty ground coriander. You can leave it out if you don't have it, but I strongly recommend it if possible.
Spring onion - Mmmm the delicious flavours of spring onion sure make this dish so delicious! You can replace the spring onion with finely chopped red onion if you prefer.
Parsley - Fresh herby parsley works so very well with this recipe. I love it a lot. You can also use coriander if you prefer but parsley, while flavoursome and herby, is a lot milder for this dish.
Lemon juice - Freshly squeezed or from a little bottle, whichever you have handy.
Olive oil - Please, please try to use extra virgin olive oil. It's much healthier than any alternative. Even if it's the cheapest supermarket's own brand, always go for extra virgin olive oil.
Salt & pepper - I use sea salt and standard black peppercorn. Nothing fancy, just simple and effective.
How to make Turkish Mercimek Koftesi
Super easy to make, these lentil balls are all about the wait. Start by washing the lentils and covering them with 5 cups of water. The rule for this recipe is simple: 5 cups of water to every cup of lentil.
Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are fully done. They should be well tender and fall apart. The process normally takes 15-20 minutes.
Don't drain the lentils! Very important!
Once the lentils are cooked, they should still have about 1 inch of water above the lentils. If not, boil some water and add it to the lentils. This is soooo very important because you will add the uncooked cous cous to the watery lentils. Without this excess water, the cous cous will not absorb the water and you won't get a nice texture for the meatless balls.
Add all the rest of the ingredients to the lentil and water saucepan: cous cous, tomato paste, pepper paste, salt, peppercorn, chilli flakes, onion, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and coriander.
Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is combined and set aside for around 10 minutes so the cous cous can absorb the excess water.
Taste the mixture and add a little more salt, pepper to taste. Add more chilli flakes if you want an extra kick!
Take a bit of mixture, form it into a long cylinder and place it on a platter. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Serve with slices of lemon on the side and enjoy!
This recipe has been developed entirely by Yuzu Bakes. Any resemblance with other recipes is purely coincidental.