Month of July: “Purple Citrus Sweet Perfume” Recipe: Red Lentil Kofte with Pomegranate and Cilantro Salad

This recipe comes from a vegetarian cafe in Istanbul, a place on earth with a long history. I like history and I am deeply drawn to others who want to create a history with me. In 1995 Abby and I met in the Smoky Mountains for a reuniting hiking adventure. She lived in Wisconsin and I in New York. We packed our gear and set out on a weeks adventure on the Appalachian trail. We met hummingbirds, Christian youth groups, odd loners and friendly trail blazers. We made campfires, ate dozens of raman noodle packages, oatmeal and other disgusting freeze dried food stuff. But we were happy. We had time to share the beautiful vistas from the mountain ridges, cool off in the fast moving creeks and just spend precious moments together in nature. Looking back over our history I still struggle with regret. Regret for not moving back to Wisconsin, back to the alluring and magical Kickapoo region which felt so much like home to me. Regret for not making a consistent effort to share more of my life with her despite the distance and family obligations. Regret for the silent years. Regret for not being more selfish about my individuality and regret for learning very late how to authentically access my internal guide. Somehow it seemed our connection was enough to sustain us, but was it really? Were we just making do with the cards we had been dealt? Regret is a relentless companion these days and I hope in time that I can forgive everything and truly truly come to believe that life is as it must be.

Ingredients: FOR THE KOFTE: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 large red onion finely chopped, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon Za’atar, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1/2 cup red lentils, 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, 2/3 cup finely ground bulgur, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon of mild red pepper paste or tomato paste. FOR THE SALAD: seeds of 1 pomegranate, 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro., grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

  1. To make the kofte heat the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the red onion for 2-3 minutes, add spices and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils and pour in the pomegranate molasses and 1 1/3 cup fo water and simmer for 8-10 minutes until lentils are almost done. Add the bulgur and season, combine. Cool. Once cool, stir in the cilantro and paste. Cover for 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  2. To make the salad: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. To serve: Shape the kofte mixture into mini balls and make a small indentation in the center of each. Spoon in the pomegranate and cilantro salad.

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