Thursday, March 14, 2013

Health Food, Turkish Style: Red Lentil Balls

My Turkish sister and I have a new subject in common: cooking and recipes!  I grew up watching my mom and my aunts look at cookbooks and talk about food.  Cooking is an important conversation topic among Turkish women, but I never thought I’d live to see the day when my “career girl” sister and I would talk about recipes! Bahar and I always talked about books we were reading, God’s word, the joys and challenges of our lives, and everything under the sun, minus cooking. 

Now, however, she occasionally calls to ask for a recipe or cooking tip and gets positively bubbly when she tells me about the food she's cooking. I guess it just goes to show how getting married changes a person. J 

So grab a glass of hot tea with Bahar and I, and let me share one of my favorite healthy Turkish recipes:

Mercimek Köftesi (Red Lentil Balls)

4 1/4 cups of water
1 cup red lentils*
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP red pepper paste (just use 4 TBSP tomato paste if you can’t find red pepper paste)
1 cup fine ground bulgur wheat*
4 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
½ bunch of chopped mint, if desired

1. Bring the water to a boil and add the lentils. Stirring occasionally, cook for about 40-45 minutes, until the lentils are softened.

2. Add the salt, cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper, and tomato and pepper pastes. Stir well. The mixture should be like a very thick soup.  Add the finely ground bulgur wheat and stir. Cover and let sit for one hour. Sauté the diced onion in the olive oil, and chop the parsley and mint.

3. Uncover the bulgur and lentil mixture and empty it into a large, shallow bowl.  It should be a kneadable consistency, like a thick cookie dough.  Add the sautéed onion in olive oil and the parsley.  Knead and mix well with your hands.  The mixture should be easy to shape, but not too dry.  If it seems dry, add a bit of water.  Using the palm of your hand, shape the mixture long, finger shaped patties.

4. Serve with lettuce leaves and lemon wedges as a garnish.

Afiyet olsun and happy cooking!

*Red lentils and finely ground bulgur should be available in Middle Eastern stores, in the food bin area of health food stores, or in the international food aisle of larger grocery stores.

Do you enjoy sharing recipes with friends?


Creatively Content said...

Our family loves these too. They are a staple at our house. Afiyet Olsun. :)

Alida said...

Mmm...those look so yummy, I miss Turkish food. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

Choate Family said...

Yum! I do enjoy sharing recipes. Somehow shared recipes are more special because they remind you of the one who shared :-)