Joy of Feeding Festival
Follow the jump for Eylem's story and recipe.
EYLEM SONMEZ - Istanbul, Turkey
Lentil and Bulgur KoftesWhile I was growing up in Turkey, my dad was a political prisoner for almost 8 years, until I was 12 years old. During this time my mom was a single mother and had a full time job to support me and our other home expenses. I was on my own during the day until she came home from work. Mom would call me from work and tell me what to cook for dinner, and then give me instructions on what food to get and how to cook it. I loved these phone conversations with my mom, as I could sense her pride in my being a responsible daughter. Strangely, even in these difficult circumstances, cooking for her and having dinner ready for when she returned home was rather a joyful experience. I am sure that taking care of my mom through cooking is the source of why, to this day, my favorite way to take care of people is to cook for them.
I lived in Turkey for 24 years, many of them in Istanbul, and worked at international media corporations as an advertising manager. My passion for films compelled me to relocate to Vancouver 9 years ago, where I received a full scholarship for the film production program from Vancouver Film School. I have been working in the film industry professionally in Vancouver since 2004.
Food is one of the most important aspects of Turkish culture and large dinners are a centerpiece of entertaining at home. Coming from a culture where "no" means "yes" when it comes to food, I have continued the tradition of entertaining friends in Vancouver by having parties at our home and over-feeding my guests. The key to our meals is to have a balance of meat and vegetarian. Red lentils and bulgur are a big part Turkish vegetarian diet.
1 cup red lentil
2 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup fine bulgur
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs red pepper paste (available at Middle Eastern stores)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch green onion, finely chopped
curly leaf lettuce
juice of half or 1 lemon (optional)
Wash lentils. In a pot, mix lentils and water, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Most of the water should be gone. Turn off heat, mix in bulgur and salt and cover. Let the lentils and bulgur sit for half hour, to let the bulgur expand.
In a separate frying pan, heat olive oil on medium heat for one minute. Add the yellow onions and sauté until they are golden brown. Add cumin and tomato paste and sauté for one minute. Stir in red pepper paste. Turn off heat and add this mixture to the lentils and bulgur. Stir in the parsley and green onions. Mix well.
-Take walnut size pieces of the lentil/bulgur mixture and shapeh them into kofte's by making a gentle fist with your hand. Place koftes on a tray.
Cut lettuce into individual pieces for wrapping the koftes in when serving.
Optional: add a bit of lemon on top of koftes when serving.