Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 24, 2021
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Crunchy red-lentil köfte with fresh mint

The inspiration for these little köfte comes from Yorem Mutfak, a lovely home-style restaurant in Gaziantep. Rather unusually, the owner and chef is a woman: the charming and friendly Hatice Yildirim has been cooking for 25 years.

Yildirim serves these spicy patties on baby lettuce leaves with wedges of lemon and green onions as part of a meze (appetizer) selection.

4 tbsp. (60 g) butter

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp. (15 ml) tomato paste

1 tbsp. (15 ml) mild Turkish red pepper paste (available in Middle Eastern food stores)

1 heaping tsp. (5 ml) ground cumin

4 oz. (125 g) red lentils

1½ c. (375 ml) water

½ c. (125 ml) fine bulgur

2 tbsp. (30 ml) mint leaves, shredded

1 heaping tsp. (5 ml) dried mint

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 c. (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 head romaine lettuce, washed

6 baby salad onions

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, tomato and pepper paste, and cumin. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften, then add the lentils and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed two-thirds of the water. Stir in the bulgur and fresh and dried mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in half the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the oil. Put the mixture on a tray to cool.

When ready to serve, whisk the remaining lemon juice and oil to make a dressing and season with salt and pepper. Form the cooled lentil mixture into little patties, using your thumb to make an indentation in the surface of each. Arrange the köfte on a platter with the lettuce leaves and onions, then drizzle over the dressing. Serves 4 to 6.

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