This is a delicious and healthy vegan recipe that you can serve as an appetizer; it would be a great party dish to accompany roasted vegetables and meat too. You can serve it wrapped in lettuce leaves, and it is delicious with a squeeze of lemon juice over. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi, adds a wonderful depth of flavour – you can make your own if you like, here is my Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi recipe. Fine bulgur works best in this recipe – if you can only get coarse bulgur, you can pulse it a few times in food processor to make it fine – These patties would keep well in the fridge, covered, for 2-3 days.
We love patties with bulgur; another version this is Potato and bulgur patties, Patatesli, bulgurlu kofte. Another delicious, moist vegan patties, at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Signed copies of my cookery book is available at this link and delivered worldwide, including the US.
We lived in the southeast part of Turkey, in a town called Elazig for 8 years during my childhood. It is an amazing part of the world, next door to the fascinating Mount Ararat (the highest mountain in Turkey, where Noah’s Ark is believed to have landed and a cradle of early civilization dating back to the early bronze age. I remember the locals being very warm and friendly; happy to share their food and open their doors to new comers. This recipe is from Southeast part of Turkey (and there are many regional variations), one of the local specialties Mum learned from the locals and passed to us. I hope you enjoy it and make it there one day.
200g/7oz red lentils, rinsed
115g/4oz fine bulgur
1 medium onion, finely chopped
15ml /1 tablespoon red pepper paste or chili paste
15ml/1 tablespoon double concentrated tomato paste
375ml/13fl oz hot water (for the red lentils)
195ml/7fl oz hot water (for fine bulgur)
4 spring onions, finely chopped
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil
15 ml / 1 tablespoon ground cumin
5ml/ 1 teaspoon pul biber or red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (use less if you wish) and ground black pepper to taste
Small bowl of cold water with a drizzle of olive oil to shape the patties
Small lettuce leaves to serve
Wedges of lemon to serve
Place the rinsed red lentils in a saucepan and add the hot water. Bring it to boil, half covered. Then lower the heat and let the lentils simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the lentils won’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the moisture is absorbed, then turn the heat off.
Transfer the cooked lentils on a large mixing bowl. Stir in the fine bulgur, its hot water, combine well with a spoon. Cover and let the mixture sit and absorb the water for about 15 minutes until all the moisture is absorbed and the mixture is of dry consistency. Mix well occasionally to blend the flavors.
Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they turn to a golden color. Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper paste, combine well. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
Combine the sautéed onions with the lentil and bulgur mixture in a large bowl. Stir in the ground cumin, pul biber (or red pepper flakes, if using), salt and ground black pepper (the mixture needs a good seasoning, so I suggest 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt flakes here). Knead the mixture well with your hands.
Then stir in the chopped spring onions and parsley. Wet your hands over the cold water with drizzle of olive oil and knead the mixture for another couple of minutes with your hands, until all combined well.
Take about a walnut size of the mixture into your hands and with wet hands, shape it as finger patties. Place them on a wide serving plate, over lettuce leaves.
Serve the Lentil and bulgur patties, Mercimekli bulgurlu kofte, with wedges of lemon by the side.