Whenever I am invited to a teaparty by a Turkish friend, more often than not, these little beauties are part of the spread.
When I first came to Turkey, it came as a surprise to see these gracing the table along with say, yaprak sarma or rolled vine leaves, and typically, a börek or two. These would be as well as the sweet offerings of course…
Teaparties here are serious business and by our standards, there is usually way too much food! I always wish I had a fabulous metabolism and could really tuck into it all! Needless to say, everyone is always on a diet but somehow rises to the occasion and manages to do justice to the hostess’ best efforts!
Now, I really appreciate these little rissole-shaped köfte: they can be made in advance, for a start and make ideal finger-food eg for a picnic. Not too soft, not too hard, easy to transport, keep well in the fridge .. and everyone always loves ’em!
The ingredients are nothing if not healthy: red lentils – which don’t require soaking – and bulgur wheat, the fine variety. I love both of these! Here, they are considered staples of the Turkish pantry. Add onions, fresh parsley, tomato and/or red pepper paste, plus some spices, and the result is a highly seasoned, spicy mix. Not necessarily spicy hot/ acı, I hasten to add – that depends on you! Just spicy as in zesty! Serve with lots of lemon wedges: the tart lemon really enhances the taste.
- Rinse the lentils, put in a pan with 3 cups of water and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.. Add the bulgur and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 20 minutes. The bulgur will absorb any extra water.
- Heat the olive oil in another pan and gently cook the finely chopped onion till softened but not browned.
- Take the cooled lentil-bulgur mix and add the cooled onion, about 2/3 of the spring onions keeping the remainder for garnish, tomato and pepper pastes, spices, chopped parsley and season well with the salt and pepper.
- NB seasoning is very important, especially salt, otherwise the taste will be bland
- Mix well, cover, and let stand for about 15 minutes.
- Shape the mixture into either rissoles, balls or small ovals about the size of a large walnut. If you choose the rissole shape (as I did), make indentations with your fingers. This is traditional!
So is this method of serving:
Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves decorated with lemon wedges. To eat, squeeze lemon juice into the indentations and roll up the köfte in a crunchy lettuce leaf.
Place on a serving dish and scatter the remaining chopped spring onions on top. Garnish with the lemon wedges and make sure that everyone squeezes the juice on their köfte.