Vegan – Diana Henry’s carrot and red lentil kofte

A few weeks ago, a dear (vegan) friend came to visit. It was before lent, but I had decided to go vegan this Lent, so here was my chance to have an experiment! Vegetarian has never been an issue for me – I probably cook vegetarian 3-4 nights a week anyway. But vegan? This was a bridge I’d never crossed before.

the vegan herself

the vegan herself with The Man!


Luckily, there was a carrot and red lentil recipe I’ve been itching to try from Diana Henry’s new book, A Change of Appetite (great Christmas present). I think Diana Henry is my favourite cookbook author; her recipes are always worth the effort, and inspire you to try something new.

Diana Henry – Carrot and red lentil kofte with tahini sauce and pomegranate

And the lentil kofta recipe just so happens to be a vegan recipe. Score…

 diana henry red lentil and carrot kofte

Yummy, and actually healthy! 1-0 to the vegans! This is perfect as part of mezze, or as a starter. I served it with falafel wraps and some fried aubergines, and it was dayum tasty…but it’s nice to have just with some salad leaves too.

Serves 6, makes approx. 30 koftas.
Makes 30 (serves 6)
  • 35 ml tahini
  • lemons, juiced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 90 g red lentils
  • 50 g bulgur wheat
  • 200 g carrots (parsnips work fine)
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp Turkish pepper paste (from Salt Sugar Smoke) or harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only
  • salad leaves, to serve

You’ll need Diana’s pepper paste from Salt Sugar Smoke (a banging book, I might add – tells you everything you need to know about preserves, smoking and sauces…amongst many other joys). Otherwise, she suggests using harissa paste as a substitute.diana henry red lentil and carrot koftasHere’s the recipe for the Turkish Pepper paste:

(to fill about 2 100g jars)

  • 2 large red peppers. Halve, deseed and chop them.
  • 2 red chillies, halved, deseeded and chopped.
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (I used white wine vinegar, which worked out fine).

Simply put all ingredients into your blender and whizz to make a puree. Now put in a non-stick sauce pan and heat up. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins (keep your eye on it, especially around boiling point). It should make quite a thick paste. Now decant into sterilised jars (use vinegar-proof lids unless you want it to go rusty!) and store in the refrigerator. It’ll keep for up to two weeks.

Recipe for Diana Henry’s carrot and red lentil kofte:

To make the tahini sauce:

 mix your tahini with 75ml of water and then the juice of ½ a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, and 2 tbsp of the extra virgin oil. Season with salt and pepper. It should end up about as thick as double cream. If it’s too thick, add a bit more water. Don’t worry too much if it goes liquidy – it’s still great to drizzle over your kofte.

For the kofte:

Now put your red lentils in a pan with 250ml of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until completely soft. Take the pan off the heat and add your bulgur wheat. Stir it through, then cover it and leave it for 20 minutes or so, so the grains can fatten.

Diana Henry red lentil and carrot kofta recipe

Cook the carrots (or parsnips give a great result too) with seasoning and the sugar in 150ml of water (or carrot juice) and season with salt and pepper. When they’re really soft drain them, mash and mix into the lentil and bulgur mixture.Now heat a tablespoon of regular olive oil and sauté the red onion until it’s completely soft (for about 7 minutes). Add the cumin, paprika and remaining garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in the Turkish pepper paste (or harissa) and tomato purée and cook for 30 seconds. Stir this into the lentil and carrot mix. Mix in the juice of 1 lemon, half the coriander, seasoning and 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin oil. Taste for seasoning.Shape the lentil mixture into your koftas – balls about the size of a golf ball. Rest your finger on top to make a little indent, to catch the pomegranate seeds and tahini sauce which you’re about to drizzle on them (don’t drizzle until they’re on the plate you want to serve on – they can be a bit squishy until they’re cool).

To serve:

Serve delicately drizzled with the tahini sauce, each indentation filled with 4 or 5 pomegranate seeds, and sprinkled with a bit more fresh coriander. Serve with salad leaves (a bit more coriander through this is tasty), dressed with a little more extra virgin and lemon juice and any remaining tahini.

Diana Henry red lentil and carrot kofta recipe

Recipe from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley)


Let me know what you think