Red Lentil Kofta(s)

>> Sunday, 23 January 2011

Always in search of new ways to use familiar ingredients, I was delighted to discover Red Lentil Kofta, which according to my friend, Burcu, is one of the most popular appetizers of Turkish cuisine.

When shopping, I pick up at least 4 packets of red lentils because they cook up so easily and quickly and I can make a lot the things with them. For example, one of my favourites is red lentils cooked with rice, we call it split pea and rice. You can make dhal, phulourie (split pea fritter), soups etc. What I like most of all is that no overnight soaking is necessary!

The traditional Red Lentil Kofta recipe calls for red lentils and bulgur wheat but I rarely have bulgur wheat in my pantry, so instead, I used couscous and it turned out great.


Yield: 14 - 16

1 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
2 cups water
1/2 cup couscous
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup finely minced onion
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
Minced hot pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided equally
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
2 stalks green onions thinly sliced (white & green parts)


  1. Wash and drain lentils. Add to a sauce pot with water and bring to a boil until the lentils are cooked and most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and add couscous, salt, and lemon juice and stir to mix. Cover and set aside.
  2. Add oil to a pan and place on medium low heat. Add tomato paste and let saute for 1 minute then add onions, garlic, hot pepper, half of the cilantro and cumin. Let saute on low heat until everything is softened. You do not want the mixture to develop a colour other than what is there naturally.
  3. Remove sauteed aromatics from heat and stir in green onions and remaining cilantro.
  4. Add sauteed mixture to the lentils and couscous and mix well to incorporate.
  5. Take about 3 - 4 tablespoons of the mixture at a time, and form into koftas - form into a ball and then gently roll lengthways.
  6. Serve as is or wrapped in lettuce leaves.

The soup series on continues... this week, check out on twist to a traditional Chicken Noodle Soup. Be warned, this is not your mama's chicken noodle soup :)

Have a productive week everyone!

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