Turkish Lentil Meatballs (Mercimek Köftesi)

Turkish Lentil Meatballs (Mercimek Köftesi)
02 May 2024

Mercimek Köftesi are among the favorite recipes of Turkish people. In addition to being both light and practical, it's also delicious. Red lentils, whose homeland is Central Asia, are mostly grown in south-eastern Anatolia in our country. It is used in many dishes, especially in Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa. Red lentils and bulgur, known for regulating the digestive system, are among the main ingredients in making mercimek köftesi. The original mercimek köftesi, which are usually served when hosting guests, are among the satisfying appetizers. If your ingredients are ready, let's see how to make a full-sized mercimek köftesi recipe that has become indispensable for Turkish people.

How Many Calories is one Serving of Mercimek Köftesi?

One serving of full-sized mercimek köftesi is 130 calories, and one piece is approximately 40 calories. You can consume mercimek köftesi, which are rich in vitamins, iron, and phosphorus, on diet lists.

Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook time : 25 mins
Servings : 7 People
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Turkish Lentil Meatballs (Mercimek Köftesi)


  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1.5 cups of thin bulgur
  • 3 onions
  • 3 espresso cups olive oil
  • 1 tbsp hot pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate syrup
  • 5~6 green onions
  • Half a bunch of dill
  • Half a bunch of fresh mint
  • Half a bunch of parsley
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • Cumin
  • red pepper powder
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1 lemon
Turkish Lentil Meatballs (Mercimek Köftesi)


  1. Clean and wash the lentils. Put them in a large pot and add enough water—more than two fingers—over the lentils.
  2. Boil the lentils until the water is absorbed. Remove from the stove and spread the bulgur to cover the lentils. Cover the lid of the pot and let it rest at room temperature for half an hour for the bulgur to swell sufficiently.
  3. Clean and chop the spring onion, parsley, mint, and dill, and mix them in a deep bowl. Peel and grate the onions. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan and fry the onions.
  4. Add the tomato paste and fry for a few more minutes.
  5. Add salt and spices, and remove from the stove. Add the roasted onion and pomegranate syrup to the lentil mixture. Finally, add the mixture of greens and knead again.
  6. Pick a small egg-sized piece from the meatball dough and shape it into meatballs by squeezing it lightly in your hands. Place the lettuce on a serving plate. Place the Mercimek Köfte's you prepared on them. You can add lemon juice if you wish. Enjoy your meal!
Serving Suggestions

Serve lentil meatballs with puff pastry, purslane salad, chicken salad, or potato salad with mustard.

Expert Tips
  • When preparing mercimek köftesi, lentils should be more than bulgur. Therefore, attention should be paid to the measurements of the ingredients. 
  • Let the lentils soften is crucial for the recipe.
  • Water addition should occur during the boiling of lentils. After adding bulgur, water should not be added again. 
  • To improve the flavor of mercimek köftesi, you can add various spices while boiling the lentils.
  • Leave the bulgur and lentils to rest with the lid closed to swell and soften well. Thus, it will soften evenly. 
  • The tomato paste sauce should be hot when added to the lentils. The purpose of this is to make it possible to mix all the ingredients easily.  
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