Turkish Lentil Meatballs

Turkish Lentil Meatballs

Turkish Lentil Meatballs

Turkish Lentil Meatballs

No wonder this is one of Turks' most beloved dishes. Simple to make and packed with flavor. Turks serve them at just about any occasion. And few leftovers are more treasured than finding mercimek köftesi in the fridge when a midnight snack is called for. What’s not to like about Turkish lentil meatballs?
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Total Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Turkish, Vegan
Servings 20 pieces


Lentil Base:

  • 6 oz red lentils
  • 6 tbls fine bulgur wheat köftelik bulgur
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 13 oz water
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Turkish Red Pepper Paste aci biber salcasi
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste

For Serving:


Lentil Base:

  • Put 2 cups of red lentils in the pot and add 6 cups of water. Cook over high heat until boiling. After boiling, reduce the heat, close the lid and cook the lentils until they are very soft and absorb most of the water.
  • While it is on the heat, add 1 cup of bulgur for meatballs and close the lid and wait.

For the tomato paste sauce:

  • Add half a tea glass of olive oil and 2 finely chopped onions to the pan and fry for about 10 minutes. Add two tablespoons of tomato and pepper paste to the pan, mash with the back of the spoon and melt it in the onion.
  • After adding cumin, pepper and salt, turn off the heat and leave to cool. Since I made this recipe for children, I kept the spice light, but you can add any spices you want.
  • Add the remaining half a glass of olive oil to the sauce in the pan and add it to the swelling bulgur and lentil mixture.
  • Knead well.
  • After all the ingredients are well combined, add a bunch of finely chopped parsley and spring onions. Stir them gently so they don't die too much. Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil before shaping.

Meatball Formation:

  • After putting all the ingredients, squeeze the meatballs with your hands and make a ball shape or squeezing them into a flatish shape. You can present it this way or by finding different salad items around it.


  • You can make the meatballs in the form of balls and serve them with sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, finely chopped basil, basil, coriander, arugula or a few of them.
  • Finally, if you drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil before serving, they will look brighter and more attractive, especially if you don't cover them with any material.
  • Always have a cut lemon with it! Serve at room temperature or cold with salad.


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