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Mercimek Kofte or Turkish Red Lentil Patties November 15, 2007

Posted by Paula Erbay in Appetizers.


This Turkish vegetarian appetizer is based on the flavors and texture of a raw lamb dish, Cig Kofte. My first taste of it was in my husband’s hometown, prepared by his niece. I loved it at first bite.

2 Cups Red lentils* (Mercimek in Turkish)
2 Cups Water (up to 3 Cups)
1 Cup Bulgar, Koftelik* fine for meatballs
1 Onion, Mayan Sweet finely sliced
2 Tablespoons Butter, unsalted
1 Tablespoon Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Paste, Hot*
5 Scallions chopped – green part only
½ Cup Parsley, Italian finely chopped (about ½ bunch)
¼ Cup Olive Oil, Extra Virgin up to ½ Cup
2 Tablespoon Aleppo Pepper* or cayenne adjust to taste
1 Tablespoon Cumin
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

In a large saucepan bring the Red Lentils and Water to a boil. Cover and simmer (soft boil) until the Red Lentils are soft – about 25 minutes. Stir often to keep lentils from sticking to bottom of pan and to check water level. If water is absorbed too quickly add more (up to a total of 3 cups). When lentils are soft (some will be very soft, some will have a bit of a bite to them), add the Bulgar. Mix well and cover, remove from heat. Bulgar will enlarge and become soft.


In a separate pan: Sauté the Mayan Onion slices in 2 Tablespoons Butter until lightly browned. Add Tomato Sauce and Red Pepper Paste. Mix well. Cook about 3 minutes to meld all flavors then remove from heat.


In a large mixing bowl: Mix Red Lentil and Bulgar with the cooked Onion mixture. Add ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Scallions, and Parsley. Add seasonings to taste (Aleppo Pepper, Cumin, Salt and Black Pepper). Use your hands to knead the mixture. If too dry add more Olive Oil a little at a time. The mixture should hold it’s shape when pressed with your hands into small log shaped patties.

Serve with lemon wedges and small lettuce leaves (optional)

 *Available at Middle Eastern Markets
If unable to find Aleppo Pepper substitute Cayenne in a lesser amount
If unable to find Hot Red Pepper paste substitute Tomato Paste (add more hot pepper)
The Bulgar must be “fine for meatballs” or the texture will not turn out correctly.




1. Ilana - February 10, 2008

Thank you for posting this recipe! I had this dish at a wonderful Turkish-Argentine (!!!) restaurant in Astoria, NY called Cafe Mundo, and I’m very excited to try to make it. Do you recommend serving it warm or cold?

2. Paula Erbay - March 26, 2008

It should be served at “room temperature” or slightly chilled.

3. George Hannsen - July 7, 2008

mmmmmmm Delicious

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