I just love this Turkish Lentil Recipe. It is such a hearty and heart-warming dish, usually served during the fall and winter months. I inherited this recipe from my mom and it continues to be one of my favorites. This lentil dish can be prepared as a vegetarian dish simply by omitting the ground beef and adding vegetables such as carrots. Lentils are also very healthy as they are a good source of protein and iron. There are different types of colorful lentils, but this Turkish lentil recipe calls for the small green ones. It is such a simple dish to make. No one would ever think it is that easy, since it tastes like you have been stewing it all afternoon!
To Prepare this dish, soak the dry green lentils for at least 30 minutes, at minimum. It is preferable that you soak them for about 12-24 hours ahead of time. Once ready, drain the liquid and set aside. In a dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter melts, add the diced onions. Cook until translucent, not caramelized. This should take about 8 minutes or so. Once the onions are translucent, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Once the ground beef is browned, add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and mix with the ground beef mixture, making sure it is mixed throughly. Season with salt and pepper. Add the green lentils and water. The water level should be just above the lentils. Please note that the consistency should be like a stew rather than a soup, so you'll need to monitor this during the cooking process. Keep a glass of water near the pot in case you need to add water at any point during the cooking process. If you notice that it is turning out to be like a paste, then you will need to add more water. It's easier to add water than to take out, so keep that in mind when cooking this dish. Bring the pot to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low to medium. Cook until lentils are soft, about 35-40 minutes.
Serve this Turkish Lentil Recipe hot. You can serve it as-is with crusty bread or ladle it on top of Turkish rice!
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