If you follow me on Snapchat, you will have seen me post about this recipe more than just a couple of times last week. The reason being that it’s delightful, and I’m obsessed, of course.
Looks familiar you say? Well, admittedly it is a re-take on my recipe for curried Mercimek Köftesi a couple of years ago, but I promise you this version is in a league of its own. (Let’s also ignore the fact that my food photography skills circa 2014 left something to be desired).
For those of you unfamiliar with this culinary wonder, it is, in my opinion, the reigning king (or queen?) of Turkish finger food. Traditionally made using red lentils, bulghur wheat, a plethora of spices and served on a bed of lettuce -Mercimek Köftesi is one of the many naturally vegan dishes that often feature on a Turkish meze platter. Alongside dishes like Pırasa, Kısır and İmam bayıldı, it is undeniably one of my all time favourites.
So much so that my dear friend and Turkish tutor prepared a special platter of it one night when she invited B and me over for an evening of post-iftar board games and nibbles this Ramadan.
I’ll let you guys in on a secret; I did more than just nibble on it, helping myself shamelessly to far too many servings.
Gluttony aside, my rendition today may not be as traditional as I’ve substituted bulghur with millet, but the results are impressive nonetheless. Not to mention nutrient dense and gluten-free, for those of you who can’t tolerate bulghur.
- 1 cup red lentils, dry
- ½ cup millet, dry
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 medium bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Lettuce or greens of choice, to serve
- Pre-cook your millet separately according to package instructions - I usually opt for a 1:1 ratio when cooking millet. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer until fluffy.
- Add lentils in a pot with enough water to cover, then boil on medium heat for 15-20 mins or until soft. Add the cooked millet and cover, allowing it to absorb the remaining water.
- In a separate pan, sautee the onions and tomato paste with olive oil on medium-low heat till just translucent. Season using the spices, salt and pepper.
- Combine the onions and tomato paste mixture with the lentils and millet, and mix through until well combined. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before folding in the fresh parsley and spring onions.
- Form into cigar shaped patties and serve atop a bed of lettuce.
It’s hard to call this a “main” dish, as it isn’t exactly something you’d have on its own, but in my mind, Mercimek Köftesi definitely has center stage potential.
I guess you could say it’s part veggie burger, part lentil dip – combining the best of both worlds in sumptuous bite-sized nuggets of goodness that are firm enough to hold together but soft to the touch.
It’s definitely a great snack, but I prefer to have mine with a hearty salad instead of beans or alongside a bowl of steaming hot soup.
Might I also add that a serving (4 pieces) offers up a sizeable 14 grams of protein? Not too shabby for a “snack” food if you ask me.
Until next time, dear readers.
(Ps. while a new lifestyle post didn’t go up last week, I did finally re-launch the Vegan Bahrain directory – be sure to check it out and stay tuned for restaurant reviews and new listings every week.)