Lentil Kofte Balls

The word ‘Kofte’ is originally Persian and simply means mashed (usually meat). Today we have the means to grind our meat and turn it into mince, rather than mash it. So when kofte is mentioned it is usually oval shaped or ball shaped minced meat.

However, I am going to confuse you even more and tell you that you can also use lentils to make kofte. Why? Well, if you are a vegetarian or dislike meat then try this recipe. Also if you are thinking of cooking this dish as an addition to your barbecue, then there will probably be enough meat dishes going around so a pulse dish will make a nice alternative.

Now traditionally, this recipe is made with lentils and bulgur rice. Yet I have friends that have gluten and wheat allergies, therefore I will be replacing the bulgur wheat with pudding rice and breadcrumbs made from gluten/wheat free bread. Obviously you can use any breadcrumbs you like.

Lentil Kofte Balls

You will need;

200g red lentils
100g yellow lentils
80 – 100g pudding rice
800 fl.oz of boiling water

Tip:  Normally to make rice, all you really need for the measurements is double the amount of water per solid quantity. For example, if you are using a say mug/cup of rice, then quite simply you will need two cups of water (boiling).

1 chicken stock cube (avoid this if you have veggie friends),  use your own stock if you have some
1 large red onion or 2 small ones
1 bunch of spring onions approx. 100g – 125g
Juice of 1 lemon
150g – 200g of breadcrumbs (of your choice)
1 teaspoon All Purpose seasoning
1½ tablespoons chilli flakes (you add as much as you wish)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons of tomato purée
25g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
50g coriander, finely chopped

Measure 800 fl.oz of water, pour into your saucepan and put onto a high heat to boil. If you are using stock add this to the water now so it has plenty of time to dissolve.

Meanwhile start measuring your lentils and rice, put all three into a sieve and give it a thorough rinse. Once the water is boiling and your stock has dissolved, add them to the now boiling water, stirring as you do so and turn the heat right down to low. Place the lid of your saucepan on tightly, but keep coming back to stir occasionally.

Whilst that is cooking start finely chopping your red onions. Next chop the spring onions and separate the white bits and place with the red onions. Put the green bits to one side, we will be adding these to the dish once the mixture is cooked.

After about 10 minutes the lentils and rice should have started to absorb most of the water. Now add the all your seasoning, the purée and all your chopped onions (not the green parts of the spring onions). Keep stirring your rice mixture regularly. Cook for a further 10 minutes then add your chopped parsley and breadcrumbs.

Try tasting the lentils to see if they are cooked. If the water has is now absorbed and your mixture is looking doughy enough to shape into balls, then turn off the heat. Leave to cool down  with the lid of your saucepan on. Give it about 30 minutes to an hour to thicken and set.

Now add the rest of your spring onions (the green part) and your finely chopped coriander. After giving your mixture a really good stir, you should be ready to shape your koftes into either the traditional oval shapes or little balls. I made little balls shapes with mine as I was going to present them at a BBQ as an accompaniment to the rest of my food.

Once you have molded your koftes, place under a grill to really firm them up. Grill them for 3 minutes each side, no more, as you do not want them to lose their moistness – yet at the same time not fall apart when they are picked up.

When ready, serve on a bed of green salad of your choice. Decorate with a few lemon wedges and enjoy.

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