Fit Friday: Turkish Red Lentil Balls aka “Red Sonjas”

Red Sonja Red Lentil Balls

When I lived in Astoria (a wonderful neighborhood in Queens, NY), one of my favorite restaurants before it closed was named Mundo. It was an Argentine-Turkish restaurant located just a block away from our apartment. That’s right! I said Argentine AND Turkish. Don’t you just love the diversity of Queens!?

My favorite thing on the menu was an appetizer called Red Sonja. Red Sonja consists of red lentil and bulgar wheat balls served in romaine lettuce leaves with lemon slices. From what I could gather, these delightful treats are also called “Mercimek Koftesi”. I would often ask for a large order of these appetizers for my entire meal. I was so sad to see the restaurant close, but it drove me to search for the recipe of this simple yet delicious dish and make them myself.

Below is the recipe I followed taken from a few sources and altered for what worked for me. Try making them this summer as they are perfect for warm weather (they can be served warm or at room temperature). This is a delicious and nutritious dish to serve as an appetizer or healthy meal.


2 cups red lentils
1 cup bulgur wheat
3 scallions
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
Romaine lettuce (large leaves)
Lemon wedges (I used lime because I had several)
Salt and pepper to taste





1. Cook 1 cup red lentils in 2 cups of water. Bring water to a boil half covered with lid and then reduce heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.


2. Turn the heat off and then add the bulgur wheat, tomato paste, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Allow the mixture to sit and dry for another 15 minutes until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

3. Mix in scallions, fresh chopped parsley and olive oil. Begin creating palm-sized balls with the mixture. Place each ball on romaine lettuce leaves.
4. Serve them warm or room-temperature with lemon wedges (I used limes because I had several left over).
Bon Appétit!
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