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A platter of red lentil koftes

Red Lentil Kofte (Vospov Kofte)

Red Lentil Kofte is a vegan Middle Eastern dish made of red lentils, bulgur, and sauteed onion. It's not only easy to make, but so fresh and delicious especially when topped with colorful chopped salad.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Resting Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Armenian, Middle Eastern
Servings 4 servings (about 16 to 18 koftes)
Calories 517 kcal



  • 2 medium tomatoes (or 4 plum tomatoes) 1/4-inch diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cucumber peeled and 1/4-inch diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green Italian pepper 1/4-inch diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 cup red lentils picked over for stones and rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup grade #1 fine bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 3 scallions thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Paprika (optional for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley


  • For the salad, mix together all the ingredients and set aside until ready to serve. The salad should be very juicy.
  • In a large pot combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the lentils are very tender. The mixture will still have a lot of liquid. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes, and remove from heat.
  • To the pot of lentils, add the bulgur and give it a stir. Then add the cooked onions. Mix, cover, and set aside for about 20 to 25 minutes or more until the bulgur wheat has absorbed the excess liquid and is nice and tender. If the mixture still has a crunch, cover it and let it continue to absorb until it is completely soft.
  • When the mixture is finally the right texture, use a wooden spoon to knead the mixture. Mix in half the scallions, reserving the rest for garnish. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and black pepepr to taste. Mix thoroughly, then taste and adjust seasoning further if necessary. Set the mixture aside until it's cool enough to handle and shape.
  • To shape the kofte, set up a bowl with warm water beside the pot, dip your hands in the water and grab a small handful of lentil mixture. Form it into a ball and then lightly begin to make a fist with your hand to make it a bit more oblong (but not completely flat) and leave finger imprints on one side. Place on a serving dish, dip your hands in warm water and repeat the process until all of the lentil mixture has been used to form koftes.
  • Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop with a trigger to portion and shape the koftes, arranging the scoops in a single layer on a serving dish.
  • Garnish by dusting with paprika (optional), and then top with the remaining scallions and the parsley, and serve with the salad as an accompaniment.

Notes & Nutrition

  • You may be tempted to reduce the amount of oil in the kofte recipe. DON'T DO IT! Your koftes will turn out dry. We have tried this recipe with different amounts, and whenever we reduce the oil the texture is just not the same.
  • The vospov koftes should be warm or room temperature when eating, although you can also eat leftovers cold from the fridge. This makes it a great leftover for lunch, as you don't need to reheat it at all!
  • To shape the koftes into mounds, I use this large ice cream scoop with a trigger.
  • We often double this recipe. In fact, the photos in this post are of a double recipe shaped in 2 different ways.
Servings 4.0 * calories 517 * Total Fat 21 g * Saturated Fat 3 g * Monounsaturated Fat 15 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 0 mg * Sodium 1018 mg * Potassium 480 mg * Total Carbohydrate 66 g * Dietary Fiber 17 g * Sugars 8 g * Protein 19 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*