Crunchy red lentil köfte with fresh mint

Crunchy red lentil köfte with fresh mint

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

The inspiration for these little köfte comes from Yorem Mutfak, a lovely home-style restaurant in Gaziantep. Rather unusually, the owner and chef is a woman, the charming and friendly Hatice Yildirim, who told us she’d been cooking for twenty-five years. We fell in love with these patties immediately; they are spicy with a lovely crunch from the bulgur. Hatice served them on baby lettuce leaves with wedges of lemon and spring onions as part of a mezze selection. You’ll find the red pepper paste used here in Middle Eastern food stores.


Quantity Ingredient
40g butter
1 small purple onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild turkish red pepper paste
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
100g red lentils
350ml water
1/2 cup fine bulgur
2 tablespoons mint leaves, shredded
1 heaped teaspoon dried mint
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 baby cos lettuce, washed
6 baby salad onions


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, tomato paste, pepper paste and cumin. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften, then add the lentils and water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed two-thirds of the water. Stir in the bulgur and fresh and dried mint and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then stir in half the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Tip the mixture onto a tray to cool.
  2. When ready to serve, whisk the remaining lemon juice and oil to make a dressing and season with salt and pepper. Form the cooled lentil mixture into little patties and use your thumb to make an indentation in the surface of each. Arrange the köfte on a platter with the lettuce leaves and onions, then drizzle over the dressing.
Middle Eastern
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