Armenian Red Lentil Patties

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit, I didn’t know Armenia even existed until a couple years ago, and I didn’t know how great their food was until a couple days ago, when an Armenian cookbook caught my eye at the library. (And I kind of think the only reason it caught my eye was because it’s a really pretty purple with nice writing on the spine). I know if I lived in Fresno or LA I would probably be very familiar with it, but I’m in a town that is desperately low on ethnic cuisine and diversity.

Because red lentils are my very favorite lentil (do you have a favorite lentil? I recommend red!) the recipe for red lentil patties was an obvious pick. Plus the fact that it’s a traditional recipe for Lent (which I don’t observe but know is currently occurring) just made it seem like the perfect thing to make. With bulgur and red lentils making a complete protein, it’s a great choice for vegetarians, not to mention the fact that it’s DELICIOUS. Basically, you just cook up some lentils with cumin, some onions with cayenne, then combine them together with fine bulgur and get a paste. You let that cool, then shape it into patties and sprinkle with onions and cilantro, and serve it with flatbread. Not fancy, but really, really good. The leftovers are great straight from the fridge too, but I don’t recommend taking them to work because the onion-breath factor is pretty high.

Recipe:
(from Simply Armenian by Brbara Ghazarian)

1 cup red lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
1/2 cup fine grain bulgur (#1)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 medium onion, diced (I used a white onion)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp olive oil
a few tbsp chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Put the lentils and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the lid on until the lentils are fully cooked (15-20 minutes). Add the bulgur, salt, and cumin and stir well. The mixture should be pretty thick – if there is still some water, keep cooking until the mixture thickens.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and most of the chopped onion, reserving about 1/4 cup to sprinkle on the finished patties. Stir in the cayenne
Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent (8-10 minutes), then add to the lentil mixture.
Transfer to a bowl to cool completely, stirring occasionally.
With damp hands, shape 1/3 cup at a time into egg-shaped patties. Sprinkle with reserved raw onion and parsley or cilantro to serve.

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