Red lentil kofta
Have you got a bag of red lentils sitting in the back of your pantry and can’t quite figure out what to do with them? Then this recipe is for you. And even if you haven’t got red lentils on hand, may I suggest you grab some, because I know you won’t regret making these delicious koftas.
They’re similar to falafel (Middle Eastern chickpea fritters), except they’re made with red lentils instead of chickpeas. The soaked lentils are blended with a simple combination of seasonings so they don’t overpower whatever you serve them with. The mixture is then shaped into small patties and pan-fried.
They’re perfect served as meze with tzatziki or tahini sauce for dipping. Or you can use them as you would falafel, stuffed in pita bread with crisp salad vegetables. But that’s just the beginning. The red lentil mixture also makes excellent veggie burger patties because it firms up as it cooks and the texture becomes almost ‘meaty’.
We’ve also formed the red lentil mixture into walnut-size balls, which we place on a baking tray and brush with olive oil, then bake in a preheated 400°F/200°C oven for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. They make a great alternative to meatballs, and we add them to Mediterranean-style stews and sauces, including a yummy version of spaghetti and meatballs, with the oven-baked lentil balls tossed in a rich tomato Bolognese sauce.
And we’ve made really tasty Indian-style koftas based on a similar red lentil mixture, except we mix the lentils with ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili to season instead of dried oregano and tomato paste, and we replace the parsley with cilantro (fresh coriander). Formed into small patties, and either pan-fried or oven-baked, they can be added to Indian curries, or served as an appetizer with raita (Indian yogurt and cucumber sauce).
The red lentil mixture keeps in the fridge, covered for up to 5 days, so you don’t have to cook it all at once. It also freezes well — just defrost overnight in the fridge before using.
½ onion — chopped
2 garlic cloves — chopped
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil