Think of all the flavours of tabbouleh, in kofte form. This light and healthy Armenian recipe for Vospov Kofte features protein-packed vegan lentil koftes served with a fresh tomato herb salad.
Next up … Armenia! Neither of us have tried Armenian food before so it was exciting to get to research and find out what country number 8 had in store for us.
The first thing we noticed were ingredients and flavours reminiscent of those in Afghan and Albanian cuisine. This made more sense as we learnt that due to its unique geographical location between Asia and Europe, the cuisine of Armenia has had an intriguing mix of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Eastern European influence. Whilst many cuisines from around the world are largely shaped by the country’s modern history, Armenia is one of the few places where it’s culinary traditions are as ancient as its history, dating back over 2000 years.
The second thing we noticed during our research is that there were lots of vegetarian options! The cuisine is equally as rich in vegetables as it is in meat and fish, which means there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly dishes on offer. Alongside the typical Armenian flatbread (lavash), bulgur wheat serves as the main source of carbohydrate.
Popular Armenian Dishes
- Ghapama– Armenian stuffed pumpkin with rice, fruit, nuts, and honey
- Dolma– Although these often contain meat, there are many vegetarian versions of these stuffed vine leaves, with fillings including rice, lentils and as assortment of vegetables
- Gata-A favourite pastry in Armenia, this sweet bread comes in all different shapes and sizes and is often adorned with fancy decoration
- Byorek- Similar to Albania’s Byrek, pies made of filo pastry and stuffed with fillings such as cheese are also very common in Armenia
- Topik– Traditionally consumed during lent, this dish consists of a potato and chickpea shell, coated in cinnamon and filled with a paste of onions, currants, pine nuts and tahini
- Vospov Kofte– Koftes made from lentils and bulgur wheat, topped with a fresh tomato and herb salad
Vegetarian rating of Armenia Cuisine:
Making Vegan Vospov Kofte
The first vegetarian Armenia dish that caught our eye was Ghapama, an elaborate-looking pumpkin stuffed with rice, fruit, nuts and honey. Upon researching Ghapama recipes, we noticed that the rice element of the dish was nearly identical to the pilaf we made for our Afghani feast. As luck had it, we still had some of this pilaf leftover. So, we decided to two birds with one stone by making Ghapama with our leftovers. Because of this sly manoeuvre, we didn’t follow the traditional method of baking the rice inside the pumpkin. Hence, we didn’t think that posting our recipe would be doing this dish justice.
However, we did make some Vospov kofte from scratch (I swear we didn’t just throw some leftovers together for this one). These are a typical Armenian vegetarian kofte made with lentils and bulgur wheat and served with a herby tomato salad. We based our recipe off of this one from Mission Food Adventure. Of course, we added a few extra touches such as more spices and garlic (cuz garlic is life). We also topped off the dish with toasted cumin seeds and yogurt.
Now, we know deconstructed foods are all the rage at the moment… But these kofte are kind of like the reconstructed version of a tabbouleh salad. Maybe reconstructed will be the new deconstructed. Perhaps we are setting new trends by making these kofte. Probably not. Anyway, on to the recipe…
PS. Apologies for not taking more progress photos for this recipe. We did intend to include some photos of how to shape the kofte. However, as per the classic life of food bloggers, we were frantically trying to form the kofte into peculiar oblong shapes to photograph them before the sun went down. Forgive us.
Ingredients notes for Vegan Vospov Kofte
- Bulgur wheat- If you are unfamiliar with bulgur wheat, it is an edible cereal grain made from dried, cracked wheat, common in Middle Eastern dishes. Its consistency is most similar to couscous. You should be able to get it from most supermarkets, but if not, you can always order it online. For this recipe, we wouldn’t recommend subbing it for another grain.
- Red lentils- We recommend using dried red lentils or split yellow lentils for this recipe, not lentils from a tin.
- Spices- We used paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper to flavour our kofte. However, you can omit the cayenne pepper if you are spice-sensitive. We’d also recommend topping the kofte with toasted cumin seeds, but this is optional.
- Yogurt– Although these lentil koftes are typically just served with a tomato herb salad, we also topped ours with yogurt. This is optional, but if you decide to, we’d recommend unsweetened greek yogurt or coconut yogurt if vegan.
How to make vegan lentil kofte
These lentil kofte are seriously so easy to make. Unlike most kofta, they don’t any baking of frying. They come together in 3 steps (okay, plus an extra step to chuck the salad together!)
- Cook the lentils in saucepan for 15 minutes whilst you sautéed onions in frying pan
- Add in bulgur wheat and onions to saucepan of lentils and leave with lid on for 20 minutes
- Mix in all other ingredients, form with hand into little oblong shapes and serve with salad!
Serving suggestions for the kofte
As these lentil kofte are quite simple on their own, we would highly recommend serving with the tomato herb salad. The freshness of the tomato and cucumber, bite of the spring onion and zing of the citrus really adds a lot to the dish. We also topped our kofte with yogurt (normal or vegan works) and toasted cumin seeds
Tomato Herb Salad
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp sumac
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed & drained
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup of bulgur wheat
- 3 spring onions, finely diced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
- Make tomato herb salad by combining all the salad ingredients in a bowl and setting aside to marinate.
- In a large pot with a lid, combine lentils with 3 cups of water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and leave to simmer partially uncovered, for about 15 minutes (or until lentils are very tender). Take off heat and stir in 2 tsp of salt.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan over medium heat and add chopped onion. Sautee until translucent, about 6 minutes, then add in garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Stir in uncooked bulgur wheat to cooked lentils, then stir in onion, garlic and remaining oil in the pan. Cover pot with lid and leave for about 20 minutes or until bulgur wheat has absorbed liquid and is soft. Mix in spring onions, parsley, cumin, paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Once mixture is cool, dip hand in a dish of warm water and shape a handful of mixture into an oblong shape. Repeat till all the mixture is used. Serve at room temperature, topping koftas with yogurt of choice and serving with tomato herb salad.