Turkish Lentil Balls (Mercimek Köfte)

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While visiting Turkey this year, we had the great honor of learning to cook from Deniz’ mom, ane Fatma Turkmen. She taught us how to make her mercimek kofte, lentil balls. The balls pack so much flavor, and are surprisingly easy to make. They’re the perfect snack size.  I loved them so much, I ate them in dinner-sized quantities.


  • 1 c red lentils
  • 2 c water
  • 1 c bulgur, fine (#1) ground

Wet Spices:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 2 T pepper paste
  • ½ T salt (or ½ bullion cube)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced


  • ½ small bunch of parsley, tough stems removed, diced, and pat dry
  • 1 small bunch scallions, diced and pat dry
  • 3 charliston peppers, diced and pat dry
  • juice from 1½ small lemons (or pomegranate juice)
  • 1 T pul biber (Aleppo pepper)


Cook the lentil in the water in a covered medium pot on medium high heat.  After 5 minutes, add the Wet Spices ingredients, and continue until the lentils are mushy (about another 5 minutes).

Add the bulgur, mix well, turn the heat off, and cover the pot again.  Let the pot sit for 15 minutes for the bulgur to absorb the water.  Fluff with a fork.

Transfer the mixture to a large plastic container.  Add the Herb ingredients.  Stir well and kneed with hands to evenly mix the ingredients.

Scoop about 1½ T of the mixture with your hands and pat/roll it into 2 inch rolls.  Repeat for the rest of the rest of the mixture.

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  1. Whitney Weinstein

    Sounds good, but what in the world is pul biber?

    • Hello Whitney, thanks for visiting our site! Pul Biber is Turkish Aleppo pepper. It’s dried red chili flakes from Turkey’s Aleppo region. It’s not hot and is very flavorful. In addition to putting it in this dish, we leave it on our countertop for use as a seasoning on top of finished dishes, including soups. It’s not that easy to find though. We get ours from international/middle eastern grocery stores. Here’s a link to it on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Aleppo-Turkish-Pepper-Zamouri-Spices/dp/B00562WN1Q

  2. Correction: Aleppo is in Syria. Antep is the main place in Turkey that produces this variety. Both taste very similar.

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