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.
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.
These delicious bites are:
- Vegan (egg-free and dairy-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
- 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.
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!
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.