Lentil meatballs are vegan alternatives to all

Lentil Patties Mezze – Vegan Meatballs Appetizer

Planted in spring and harvested in late summer, lentils are one of my all-time favorite legumes. Aside from their magnificent flavor, they can substitute for meat flawlessly. This advantage is making them one of the most sought-after ingredients for vegan dishes. However, the lentil kofte (meatless lentil patties) has been enjoyed for centuries in Turkey and was not developed as a vegan meal. It just turned out that way!

I am a big fan of meatless meatballs and patties. Whenever I get the chance, I try to cut down on my meat consumption. Plus, lentil kofte (mercimek köftesi) is a great way to enjoy healthy, delicious, meatless food. Once you get a bite, you will get an Eastern sensation in your mouth that would remind you of something similar to kebab. And, trust me, that bite will only be the beginning of the many to follow. It is actually the blend of spices and onion that fits well with boiled lentils. This recipe also includes finely grated bulgur. If you like spicy lentil food, you will probably fall in love with our other recipe; bulgur salad (kısır).

Keep in mind that preparing this recipe is quick and easy. You can always use it as a last-minute appetizer for large gatherings. Read on to learn its legendary health benefits.

dried red lentils

What is special about lentils?

Lentils provide high-protein levels as much as regular steak. They are rich in iron, potassium, folate, and fiber. Consuming cooked lentils may help reducing the risks of colon cancer, protect you against diabetes, and lower bad cholesterol levels. Your digestive system will thank you if you eat lentils regularly due to the high fiber level. These heart-friendly legumes are the dried seeds of lentil plants. A recent study concludes that you can lower blood glucose levels by more than 20% if you replace half of the carbohydrates derived from rice and potatoes. Now you can cut down your carbohydrate consumption with healthy and tasty lentils.

Lentil Kofte – Vegan Meatballs (Mercimek Köftesi)

Enjoy best of the both worlds; stay healthy while eating delicious food made with lentils. This recipe is just the beginning of many other meals made with lentils, including soups and casseroles. Lentils are mostly pureed in eastern cuisine similar to chickpeas in hummus. This method allows blending the spices smoothly. The following is a good example of mashing lentils and bulgur prior to adding herbs.

Lentil Patties Mezze – Vegan Meatballs Appetizer

Recipe by OzgurCourse: AppetizersCuisine: TurkishDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


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Total time




  • 1 ½ cup dried red lentils

  • 1 ½ cup finely ground bulgur

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 large white onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (for browning diced onions)

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 3 green onions (scallions), diced

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

  • Optional:
  • 1 tablespoon pepper paste

  • 1 teaspoon dried mint


  • Wash and drain the red lentils.
  • Add the lentils into a saucepan and pour 3 cups water.
  • Bring it to boil. (Lentils will soak the water).
  • Wash and drain the bulgur and add onto cooked lentils.
  • Close the lid of the saucepan and set it aside for about 20 minutes.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil into a pan.
  • Add the diced onions on top and brown while stirring continuously.
  • Add the tomato paste, blend well with the onions, and remove from the heat after 2 minutes or so.
  • Add the onion mixture and all the other ingredients with the lentil-bulgur mixture.
  • Blend well with a spatula.
  • Form them into kofte shape by squeezing about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in your hand.
    Alternatively, you can form patties or small meatballs.


  • You can replace the fresh green onions with leek in the same amount. By doing so will reduce the spice level of the recipe.
  • Serve with fresh arugula and iceberg lettuce. It is customary to squeeze lemon juice over each lentil patty before consuming.

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