This is a very common dish with the red lentils and bulgur made all over Turkey. It is one of the dishes that can be eaten as a main course for a light meal or served along with homemade pastries in the afternoon tea gatherings.
I remember the first time I ever made this with a friend, 4 or 5 years ago, the taste was there but didn’t look anything like what you see in the picture. This is not to say that it needs to be mastered, but you need to be careful of the water amount used when cooking the lentils. If you put too much, you might end up adding more bulgur than the recipe calls for otherwise. So, I suggest starting with the amount I give here, but keep a boiling cup of water close by to add on if needed.
It goes well with the basic onion salad I am going to share. In fact, I do not think I have ever seen it served without this salad. Also, I like serving on a bed of lettuce leaves garnished with olive oil + salt + lemon juice trio. The more lemon juice the better, if you ask me. Using the lettuce, parsley and green onions growing in our backyard makes it easy to gather ingredients for this meal without a trip to the grocery store…
Another side note: the recipe calls for fine bulgur, which is easy to find in the Middle Eastern stores. If you use the coarse bulgur, not only it might take more water to “cook it” but also it will not be as easy to shape as using the fine variety. Here, bulgur is not cooked, but rather soaked with the steaming hot lentils.
- 1 cup of red lentils
- 1.5 cup of fine bulgur
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley (chopped finely makes about 1.5 cups)
- 4 – 5 green onions (chopped finely makes about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup of olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 1 Tbs red pepper paste
- salt to taste
for onion salad
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves (finely chopped)
extra: lemon juice as extra garnishing
In a medium size pan, put the red lentils and 1.5 cups of water, cover and cook on low heat until water evaporates, lentils are cooked. If lentils are not cooked yet, add more boiling water but make sure not to add too much to leave the mix watery.
Put the bulgur in a big bowl, add the cooked lentils mix well and cover the bowl—strech film works great.
In the mean time clean and cut the parsley and green onions fine.
Cut the onion in very small pieces, cook them with olive oil using a small saucepan. Add the tomato and red pepper paste, cook until onions are very soft.
When the onion mixture has cooled down, add it along with the chopped greens to the lentil mix.
Now you have all the ingredients to make your lentil balls in one bowl. Mix them by hand, lightly knead as needed. If too dry, you can add more olive oil or hot water to the mix—again be careful not to add a huge amount at once.
Take a chunk a bit bigger than walnut size, roll in your palm and fingers to give it a shape. Shape all of the mix in this way.
Cut the onion in half. Making very thin slices, cut it all the way. Add the sumac and salt, work them through the onion making sure the onion releases its juice. This will make it easy for you to digest the onion. Add lemon juice if desired. You can add finely chopped lettuce if you would like as well.
Serve room temperature or slightly colder.