Mercimek Köfte (Lentil Balls)

Mercimek kofte served with lettuce leaves and lemon slices on an oval plate.

5 from 1 reviews

Vegan meatballs with bulgur, red lentils, herbs and spices. Perfect for your next party.


  • 1 and ½ cup red lentils
  • 3 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, optional


  1. 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.
  2. Once most of the water is gone, remove from heat and add in bulgur. Give it a stir and let it rest covered(lid on), for 10-15 minutes so that bulgur absorbs the rest of the water and gets tender. After all the liquid in the mixture of bulgur and lentils is gone, the mixture will look a bit dry. It is ok, don’t worry.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, saute the chopped onion in the olive oil until golden. Add in tomato paste, salt, cumin, black pepper and paprika. Stir well.
  4. When all the liquid is absorbed by bulgur in the pan, transfer the sauted onion mixture into the bulgur and lentil mixture. Stir well and then transfer it into a larger bowl.
  5. 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. Let it cool before shaping.
  6. Line a serving platter with lettuce leaves or other herbs. Put ¼ cup of water or olive oil in a bowl and put it aside. Wet your fingers dipping into this water (or olive oil). This will prevent any stickiness. Shape them in your palm and place them on the lettuce leaves. Repeat until all the mixture is finished.
  7. Serve them with extra lettuce leaves, lemon wedges, herbs and pickles.


  • Let the mixture cool for 20-30 minutes before starting to shape it. 
  • If the mixture looks too dry, add in a little more olive oil.
  • Dip your fingers in olive oil or water when shaping the balls. This will help prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. It is easier to shape them this way.
  • Keep the leftover mercimek koftesi in an airtight container in the fridge. They keep well for up to 5 days.
  • Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.


Keywords: mercimek koftesi, lentil balls