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Baked Red Lentil Kefta {vegan, grain-free}

Baked Red Lentil Kefta that is vegan, oil-free, and grain-free! Similar to falafel, easy to make, and delicious. Each patty has 4.1 g protein and only 50 calories.



Easy Baked Lentil Kefta

Are you a falafel fan? Then meet your new craving: baked red lentil kefta.

I am so annoyed with myself for forgetting about this delicious dish for more than a decade. Back in graduate school, my friend Ela prepared a vegetarian Turkish feast for me and a few other friends (lucky us!); it was then that I first tasted red lentil kefta. Loaded with flavor (garlic, onions, herbs, spices) and crispy-crunchy (she deep-fried hers), it was love at first bite.

I vaguely remember Ela explaining how she made them, but because (a) they were deep fried, and (b) I had not used red lentils for much more than dal in those days, I never got around to making my own.

Thanks to a reader request (that’s you, Airyfairycelt!) for some pucks made with lentils, I finally remembered. Ready? Let’s go.

Recipe Benefits

These delicious bites are:

  • Vegan (egg-free and dairy-free)
  • Gluten-free
  • Grain-free
  • Oil-free
  • Sugar-free
  • High in protein (4.1 grams per patty)
  • High in fiber (3.9 grams per patty)

Ingredients for the Kefta

The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Split red lentils
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Ground cumin
  • Paprika (regular, hot, or smoked)

You will also need water (regular tap water) and salt.

I use red (split lentils) in this recipe. The good news is that split red lentils have become readily available in most grocery stores. Check out the dried bean section and you should find them there. If you cannot find them, use any variety (tan, green, black) that you have or can find.

The remaining ingredients are everyday staples, from tomato paste to onions to spices. Do not fret if you do not have cumin and paprika. You can use some curry or chili powder, for example, or other savory spices of your liking.

How to Make Baked Red Lentil Kefta

Step One: Soak the Lentils

Authentic falafel begins with soaked (not cooked) chickpeas. Similarly, red lentil kefta starts with soaked, split red lentils.

Simply cover the lentils in water and leave overnight (or do this first thing in the morning before heading to work or school). They plump up to more than double their size.

Step Two: Preheat Oven and Prep the Pan

No deep-frying is required to render these kefta crispy. Instead, the kefta are baked in a muffin tin.

preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Spray all twelve cups of a standard size muffin tin with cooking spray.

Step Three: Process in Food Processor

Add the drained lentils and all of the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Process until finely chopped, but stop far short of a hummus consistency. The resulting mix should have some texture, like this:

Step Four: Shape into Patties

Shape the mixture into twelve equal sized patties and place into the prepared cups of the muffin tin. I give the tops a quick spritz before baking, for added crispness.

Step Five: Bake

Bake the kefta in the preheated oven for 13 to 17 minutes until browned and crispy at the edges.

Remove the kefta from the muffin tin and serve warm.

Enjoy these as you would falafel, in sandwiches, wraps, salads, as appetizers or protein-rich snacks. Happy eating!

FAQ

Can I Use Other Lentils (Besides Red Lentils?)

Yes! Any other variety of lentils can be used in place of the red lentils.

Is there a Quick Way to Soak the Lentils?

Yes! Use boiling water in place of regular water. Soak the lentils for 30 minutes until plumped, and then drain.

Can these Be Made in Advance & Stored?

Yes! Cool the kefta completely and store in airtight container inn the refrigerator for 1 week or the freezer for up to 6 months. Serve cold, room temperature, or re-warm in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds.

Yield: 12 patties

Baked Red Lentil Kefta {vegan, grain-free}

Baked Red Lentil Kefta {vegan, grain-free}

Baked Red Lentil Kefta that is vegan and grain-free! Similar to falafel, easy to make, and delicious. Each patty has 4.1 g protein and only 50 calories.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) split red lentils
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro or parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion (purple, white or yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika (regular, hot, or smoked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Place the water and lentils in a medium bowl; cover and let soak overnight (or at least 6 hours). Drain the lentils through a sieve or colander. (see tip for quick-soak)
  2. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Grease or spray all 12 cups of a standard muffin tin.
  3. Place the drained lentils and all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Process until finely chopped (the mixture should still have texture; it should not be entirely smooth. See photo in post).
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture and loosely shape into a patty (mixture will be somewhat wet); place in prepared cups, gently pressing to flatten and cover bottom of cup. Lightly spritz or brush with spray or oil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 17 minutes until set. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove from tin. Serve warm or cool completely.

Notes

Lentils: Any other variety of lentils can be used in place of the the red lentils.

Tomato Paste: If you are folowing a strictly GF diet, be sure to double-check the tomato paste can. Some add glutinous additives, especially ones with added flavorings.

Quick soak option: Use boiling water in place of regular water. Soak for 30 minutes until plumped then drain.

Storage: Cool the kefta completely and store in airtight container inn the refrigerator for 1 week or the freezer for up to 6 months. Serve cold, room temperature, or re-warm in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1 patty

Amount Per Serving Calories 50Total Fat 0.2gSaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 85mgCarbohydrates 8.8gFiber 3.9gSugar 0.8gProtein 4.1g

Did you make this recipe?

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Scout

Saturday 12th of March 2022

I don't know what I did wrong they never really firmed up and became burgers they just stayed like a thick mushy sauce so I tried to fry them hoping it would help but they stuck to the frying pan and fell apart. they smelled great though so I'm sure they'd be awesome if I could fix that!

Psg

Friday 1st of October 2021

Pretty good. I added a handful of walnuts. Bit dry so they need a sauce (I have them w yogurt or hummus). VERY filling so they go a long way.

Petunia

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

Turned out quite well - thank you! Had it for dinner with tzatziki. Might try adding a dash of balsamic vinegar to the mixture next time I'm making this.

Camilla

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

Wonderful, Petunia!

michal

Monday 25th of January 2021

Looks Great,

But how many its 1– 1/2 cups water? One and a half? Half a cup of water? one to half cups of water?

The recipe looks great but it's hard to follow

Thank You

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