Mercimek Koftesi, Vegan Turkish kofte that is made with red lentils and bulgur and the best part is, these are not deep fried. Stuff it inside some crisp lettuce to enjoy as an appetizer or lunch.

Course: Appetizer, Lunch Recipes

Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Turkish

Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Servings: 20 Pieces

Calories: 51kcal


  • ▢1 cup Red Lentil / Masoor Dal
  • ▢¾ cup Bulgur fine
  • ▢1 Onion finely chopped
  • ▢1 cup Parsley finely chopped
  • ▢4 Spring onions whites and greens chopped
  • ▢2 tablespoon Tomato paste substitute ketchup
  • ▢1 tablespoon Cumin powder
  • ▢2 teaspoon Crushed red pepper adjust based on liking
  • ▢Salt to taste
  • ▢4 tablespoon Olive oil
  • ▢8 Lettuce leaves to serve


  • Wash the lentils well and place them in a large pot along with 3 cups of water. I started with about 2 ½ cups of water and when the lentils were cooked and appeared a little on the drier side, I added about ½ more cup of hot water.
  • Cook the lentils in medium heat until they are soft and cooked. At this stage the lentils should still have a little water left in them that would allow the bulgur to cook.
  • Add the fine bulgur to the pot and mix well. Turn off the flame and cover the pot and let it sit for about 30 minutes until the bulgur cooks up in the leftover heat and absorbs the extra water. I did not have fine bulgur and had quick cooking bulgur in my pantry. So, I just ground it a bit in the blender and then used it in the recipe.
  • After 30 minutes, you will notice that the bulgur has soaked up all the liquids and also has cooked. Let this mixture cool down a bit.
  • Meanwhile in a pan, heat the oil and sauté the finely chopped onions until translucent.
  • Add the crushed red pepper, tomato paste (I used ketchup) and cumin powder and cook further for 2 more minutes.
  • Turn off the flame and add this to the cooked lentil mixture.
  • Add the finely chopped parsley, spring onions and salt to the lentil mixture and mix well. I found that using my hands to mix was easier than using the ladle.
  • Take a handful of the mixture and shape it into kofte shape and place them in serving platter.

To serve – Serve room temperature or cold koftes wrapped in lettuce.


Expert tips

  • Make sure to use finest of the bulgur that is available. If using coarse bulgur, it has to be cooked before we add it to the rest of the ingredients.
  • Quick cooking bulgur can be used instead of fine bulgur and it works just as well.
  • Godhumai rava or broken wheat cannot be used as is in the recipe. Bulgur is a parboiled grain and broken wheat is not. We need to cook the broken wheat before substituting in the recipe.
  • If making it grain free, we can use quinoa as a substitute for bulgur. Make sure to cook the quinoa before using it to make the Mercimek Koftesi.


Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1075IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg