These kofte are simple to make, healthy and incredibly tasty. Plus, they’ll keep the vegetarians happy. A very popular mezze in Turkey, the traditional way to shape these is by squeezing a small amount between your fingers while making a “fist” with your hand - this makes a sausage shape with well-defined finger indentations along the edges of the kofte. Shaping them into balls like these, however, is a very acceptable alternative. Don't make your kofte too far in advance, as they'll dry out if they sit too long before serving.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (47 votes)


  • 125 g (¾ cup) red lentils
  • 185 g (¾ cup) fine burghul (bulgur)
  • 2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for drizzling
  • 2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1½ tbsp pepper paste
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • large pinch dried chilli powder 
  • baby cos lettuce leaves
  • 4 green onions, cut into lengths.
  • lemon wedges, bread, to serve 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 15 minutes

Combine lentils with 500 ml (2 cups) of water in a saucepan and bring slowly to a simmer. Cover then cook the lentils over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until very tender. Remove from the heat. Rinse the burghul briefly under cold running water, drain well then stir into cooked lentil mixture. Cover and stand for 15 minutes or until mixture is very thick. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan or saucepan, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes or until very soft. Add the tomato paste, pepper paste and spices and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Stir into the lentil mixture to combine well then stand, covered, until cooled. Season the mixture to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stir in lemon juice and chilli flakes. Using your hands, knead the mixture well, adding a little extra oil or water if mixture is too dry. Using clean, damp hands, form tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls then use your thumb or a finger to make a deep indentation in each one. Arrange on a platter then drizzle with olive oil. Serve with cos lettuce leaves, green onions, lemon wedges and bread.


Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.