Turkish Lentil Meatball aka Mercimek Koftesi is a fantastic party food. These are super easy and inexpensive to prepare and loved by everyone. Nobody is able to stop once they try one.
If bulgur is a new food for you, go check out our basic way to cook bulgur. You will see how easy it is to prepare bulgur wheat recipes. Two of our favorites are bulgur salad with herbs and bulgur rice.
Mercimek koftesi, as we say in Turkish, is one of the most popular Turkish recipes that is served at potluck parties. We make it quite often. We love when we have finger foods ready in the refrigerator. Whenever we feel hungry or just crave for something savory, we grab two or three and only then continue what we are doing.
Although these “meatballs” are made with bulgur and red lentils, I don’t know why but their name focuses only on lentils. In Turkey, these are called “mercimek koftesi” meaning lentil meatballs but I think these are the cousins of fine bulgur cig kofte, one of the best bulgur recipes. These are almost uncooked and served cold as an appetizer.
Although these Turkish vegan lentil meatballs are traditionally served in finger shape, we love them in ball shape too. Also we never serve them on their own in Turkey. Lettuce leaves and pickles are staple foods when you serve mercimek koftesi. You can enrich your table with herbs and salads depending on your taste. We do love pairing them with sumac onions.
Party foods always need some sauces, don’t they? We love to serve homemade pomegranate molasses with these Uh-mazing bulgur and lentil meatballs.
We have a traditional way of eating mercimek koftesi. Place one in a lettuce leaf, drizzle pomegranate molasses or squeeze lemon on it and throw into your mouth. Repeat as needed!
What’s great about these lentil meatballs is that they are healthy. Red lentils are rich in protein and fiber. Bulgur is a good source of healthy carbs. I mean the only unhealthy part is that these are so addictive that you can’t stop once you start eating.
Another tradition in Turkey is to serve tea with or after them. Bulgur easily makes you feel full and if you can not dominate your appetite and eat too much, you may feel bad, have some trouble with your stomach. In this case, a well-brewed Turkish black tea is your life saver. It definitely relaxes your stomach.
Another great thing about these vegan lentil balls is that you can make them a day or two beforehand and serve on the party day. These taste even better when served after a day or two. These store really well in the refrigerator for several days.
If you are looking for a good snack for your next party, you have to try these. I promise these will rock no matter your guests are vegan or not.
As always: If you make this recipe, let us know what you think by rating it and leaving a comment below. And post a pic on Instagram too—tag @give_recipe so we can see!
Turkish Mercimek Koftesi
Vegan meatballs with bulgur, red lentils, herbs and spices. Perfect for your next party.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Snack
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Turkish
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 and ½ cup red lentils
- 3 and ½ cups water
- 1 cup fine bulgur
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- ¼ cup olive oil to shape the balls.
- Wash the red lentils well and put them in a large pot. Pour water over them and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Once most of the water is gone, remove from heat and add in bulgur and let it rest covered, for 10-15 minutes so that bulgur absorbs the rest of the water and gets tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, saute the chopped onion in the olive oil until golden. Add in tomato paste, salt, cumin, black pepper and paprika. Stir well.
- Transfer the sauted onion mixture into the bulgur and lentil mixture. Stir well and then transfer it into a larger bowl.
- Add in salt, parsley, mint, green onions, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Mix well with your hands. Taste and adjust the amount of salt to your taste.
- Line a serving platter with lettuce leaves or other herbs. Put ¼ cup olive oil in a bowl and put it aside. Wet your fingers dipping into this olive oil. This will prevent any stickiness. Place them on the lettuce leaves. Repeat until all the mixture is finished.
- Serve them with extra lettuce leaves, lemon wedges, herbs and pickles.
You can substitute water for olive oil which you use to wet your fingers when shaping the balls.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 333
- Sugar: 3.6 g
- Sodium: 598.3 mg
- Fat: 15.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 41.6 g
- Protein: 11.4 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: mercimek koftesi, lentil meatballs, Turkish bulgur balls, Turkish lentil balls, lentil balls, vegan lentil meatballs