In Turkey, lentils are a staple.  They use red, yellow, green, and brown in soups and to make a variety of balls.  After living there for 6 months, I became a pro at preparing them.  This, however, was the first recipe that I learned when I moved there.  It can be made into a soup for a starter or prepared as a main meal.  Several of the spices are nearly impossible to find outside of Turkey or a Turkish grocery store, so you may need to make appropriate substitutions.  Enjoy!

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


  •  2 c/260 g red lentils, washed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 1/2 red tomato
  • 1 tbsp bulgur wheat
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chili paste (optional)
  • 2 tsp isot
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 11 tbsp ground mint leaf
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste


Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large pot, then saute onions until translucent.  Add 6 c/1.5 l of water, potatoes, tomato, red chili pepper, and lentils, and bring to a boil.  Then add tomato and chili paste, and leave to simmer until lentils are tender and potatoes are cooked (25 minutes).

When finished, pour the mixture through a sieve.  Set lentil and potato mixture aside, and leave broth in the pot.

In a frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp ground mint leaf.  Pour mixture into the broth, and mix thoroughly.

Serve broth in a bowl, with the lentils served on a side plate.  Squeeze fresh lemon on both, and top lentils with plain strained yogurt (e.g. Greek-style). 

*To eat as a soup, do not sieve the mixture, and serve together after adding butter and mint to the broth.

Yields 4 servings

A special thanks to my friend, Sezgin Erkorkmarz, for teaching me this recipe.