red lentil bulgur patties

Red lentils are actually more orange than red, but tradition is hard to fight. This is a traditional Armenian recipe found in most Armenian cookbooks with different spellings and names like vospov kufteh, vosbov keufte, or kibbe with lentils (arabic-english). The Sarks never made it, perhaps because old man Barkev did not like this kind of dish. But America's Test Kitchen got our attention with Vospov Kofte (Red Lentil Kofte) in an Armenian cuisine episode that we caught by chance on the boob tube. And it appealed to our inner eaters, so we made it the next day with Ani's mom Isgouhi for a third opinion on the result. Part of the attraction was a similar vegetarian dish we only had recently in the family: potato kaloor / kufteh / kibbeh.

Checking out our food library, we see that usually instead of butter either olive or vegetable oil is used for sauteeing, which then makes this a vegan recipe. It involves two less common ingredients: Aleppo red pepper which is a slightly hot sweet red pepper powder and sumac which is another red powder spice available in Middle Eastern specialty stores or online. The same is true of red pepper paste, which is a staple in Isgouhi's Armenian-Lebanese kitchen. Aleppo is a city in Syria that has been a food mecca in pthe past in part from its previously large Armenian population (Isgouhi grew up there), but the recent war has sadly damaged the city and this rich tradition.

It was delicious but could have been better if we had increased the spices in quantity (to taste, experiment!), and used a bit of red pepper paste to give the patties more color and a boost of flavor. So we green light this one and hope you agree.


3 cups water
1 c dried red lentils, pickedover and rinsed
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 t table salt, divided
1 c fine-grind bulgur (#1 cut)
1 T red pepper paste (optional)
4 T unsalted butter (or olive/vegetable oil to make this vegan)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 t ground dried Aleppo pepper (3/4 t paprika + 1/4 t cayenne pepper)
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t ground allspice
2 T chopped fresh parsley
green garnish
3/4 c chopped fresh parsley
4 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 c chopped fresh mint
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 t lemon juice
1 t ground sumac (if  unavailable, increase lemon juice to 1 T and salt to 1/3 t)
1/2 t ground dried Aleppo pepper ( 3/8 t paprika + 1/8 t cayenne pepper)
1/4 t table salt


  1. Bring water, lentils, oil, and 1 t salt to boil in large saucepan over high heat.
  2. Adjust heat to maintain gentle simmer.
  3. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are fully broken down, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Place bulgur in large bowl. 
  5. Pour lentil mixture over bulgur, stir until uniform, and set aside. Wipe out saucepan with paper towel.
  6. Melt butter in now-empty saucepan over medium-high heat.
  7. Add onion, Aleppo pepper, cumin, pepper, allspice, and remaining ¼ t salt.
  8. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and just beginningto brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Add parsley and onion mixture to lentil mixture and stir until uniform.
  10. Transfer to bowl and let cool completely, 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. Refrigerate until stiffened enough to mold, about 30 minutes.
  12. Using ¼-c dry measuring cup sprayed with vegetable oilspray, divide mixture into 16 portions (respray cup if mixture starts to stick).
  13. Using your slightly moistened hands, press and roll each portion into 2 or 3-inch log or oblong patties (we like 2 inch).
  14. Arrange around perimeter of platter.
  15. Toss all the green garnish ingredients together in bowl and serve sprinkled over the patties.


  1. America's Test Kitchen:
  2. Serve these on their own or with pita or lavash.
  3. Our similar potato kaloor / kufteh /kibbeh recipe.
  4. Illustrations available.
redlentilbulgurpatties.htm: 5-sep-2022 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]