In Turkey, I found Çiğ Köfte, one of the best foods I’ve ever had.  I was in the habit of buying it several times a week (since it’s apparently very time consuming to make yourself…that, and when you buy it at the shop the man gives you a free sample), but that started to break the bank, a bit.  A friend taught me how to make these lentil balls instead- a cheap and easy meal that will feed a group or last you days.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: about 40 minutes, plus cooling time and about 10 minutes to form balls


  • 2 c/500 g red lentils, washed thoroughly
  • 1 c/250 g fine bulgur wheat
  • 5 medium sized white or yellow onions, very finely diced
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, washed
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 4 green/spring onions, very finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 tbsp pomegranate vinegar (more/less to taste)
  • 3 c water
  • isot, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Bring 3 c water to a boil, and add lentils.  Reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (35-40 minutes), then add bulgur wheat.  In a separate frying pan, heat 4 tbsp olive oil and saute onions until translucent.  Add tomato paste and mix.  Once lentils and bulgur wheat are cooked thoroughly and all water has been absorbed, add onion and tomato paste mixture.  Add 5 tbsp pomegranate vinegar,isot, green/spring onion, salt, and pepper, then mix with your hands.  Knead the mixture for 10 minutes, until it is of a single consistent texture.

Peel lettuce leaves and place on a tray.  Form lentil balls by taking a small handful of mixture.  Place balls on top of the lettuce leaves, and refrigerate until cool.  Once cooled, serve by placing one ball into a lettuce leaf. Top with parsley, freshly squeezed lemon, and pomegranate vinegar (optional).


Serves 4