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Kufteh (Persian), köfte (Turkish) and kibbeh (Arabic) are round, walnut-sized patties usually made from pounded meat but sometimes from fish or vegetable pulp, which then is mixed with fine bulgur, herbs and spices. Serve this vegetarian version as an appetizer or a side dish. This recipe is from Martha Rose Shulman and was printed in the New York Times (January 2, 2009).
- 1⁄2 cup red lentil, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1⁄2 cup bulgur (fine or medium, #1 or #2)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 large onions or 1⁄2 medium onion, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
- 1⁄2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- aleppo pepper (optional)
- scallion, for garnish
- 1 small romaine lettuce leaf, for garnish
- lemon wedge (to garnish)
- Combine the lentils and water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, skim off any foam, reduce the heat, add salt to taste and simmer 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and most but not all of the water is absorbed.
- Place the bulgur in a bowl, mix with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pour in the lentils with their liquid. Stir together, then cover and let sit for 30 minutes, until the bulgur is tender and has absorbed all the liquid.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden and very tender. Stir often. Add the ground cumin and stir together for about 30 seconds, then stir into the lentils and bulgur.
- Moisten your hands with water and knead the mixture in the bowl for 3 to 5 minutes. Each time it begins to stick to your hands, moisten them again, and this will moisten the mixture. If it seems very dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup of the minced parsley, and for a spicier mixture add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper. Taste and adjust salt.
- Moisten your hands and shape the mixture into walnut-size balls (about 1 inch). You’ll have to moisten your hands again whenever the mixture begins to stick to them. Place on a platter and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Garnish with scallions, romaine lettuce leaves and lemon wedges, and serve, or chill for several hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.