RECIPES: Red Lentil Spread [PKA Lentil Balls]

Recipe | Chef Deniz Tarakçıoğlu · Curator | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | The Dirty Apron · Gear | Leica

Typecast as a vehemently boring, guilt-free snack for pitiful public gatherings, mercimek köftesi [atrociously translated into the English language as lentil balls] is Turkey’s quintessential, vegetarian crowd-pleaser. Unfortunately, just like its translation, its myriad of renditions across Asia Minor have also lacked imagination [as well as moisture content]. In an audacious attempt defying legume zeitgeist, Chef Deniz tips the scales by elevating the classic—a rich, spicy and velvety concoction that’s sure to garner an even larger following than its predecessor. Cue the spreadable splendour [and the instant indignation].


3 cups of red lentils, boiled in 1 litre of plain water until soft and mushy
2.5 cups of fine bulgur wheat
3 tbsp of sun-dried chili pepper paste
3 tbsp of cumin seeds
3 tbsp of coriander seeds
3 tbsp of your favourite hot sauce
50 ml of lemon [or lime] juice
A handful of the following; fresh mint, Italian flat leaf parsley, scallions and cilantro [all finely chopped]
100 ml of premium quality olive oil
Endive leaves
Fine sea salt to taste

Method [Recipe serves 15 as an appetizer]

01. Beat the boiled [mushy] lentils to a smooth consistency with the help of a wooden spoon, and stir vigorously whilst adding the bulgur wheat to the piping hot mixture.

02. Transfer the lentil & bulgur wheat mixture into a porcelain mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allowing the mixture to cool down to room temperature.

03. Pulverize spices in a mortar and pestle until mixture becomes a fine powder. Add the lemon juice.

04. Wash your hands and knead the mixture by breaking it into a crumbly texture.

Chef Deniz recommends a sandy consistency.

05. Add in the rest of the ingredients.

06. Knead thoroughly, until the mixture appears to be uniform in colour.

07. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.

08. Serve with endive leaves.


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