Nigel Slater’s Irresistible Recipe for Lentil and Bulgur Wheat Cakes

Lentil and bulgur wheat cakes served on a plate with arugula

Even if you’re not a vegan, there are some non-dairy and non-meat treats that will make your mouth water. These crispy, herby, and incredibly wholesome lentil and bulgur wheat cakes are super easy to make, and the taste is simply divine. Check out the recipe!


For the cakes:

  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, curry powder, and yellow mustard seeds each
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 cup small red lentils
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • Mint leaves, parsley, and coriander to taste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)

A wooden bowl and spoon full of fine bulgur wheat

For the serving sauce:

  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • Pepper to taste

The trick in this recipe is to use fine bulgur as opposed to the coarse kind. That way, your cakes won’t fall apart while you’re frying them and will keep their shape nice and firm.

How to Make the Lentil and Bulgur Cakes

Step 1

In a large, deep-pan, warm up the olive oil. In the meantime, peel and chop the onions, and then add them to the pan. Let them cook until translucent for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Step 2

Add the turmeric, curry powder, and yellow mustard and cumin seeds to the pan and continue cooking for another three to four minutes. Then pour in the vegetable stock and bring it to a boil before adding the red lentils. Lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes until the lentils become soft.

Step 3

Stir in the fine bulgur wheat and remove the pan from the heat. Cover it with a lid and set aside. In the meantime, chop the mint, coriander, and parsley and mix them into the lentils and bulgur mixture.

Step 4

Once the mixture has cooled off enough to touch it, shape it into six large balls (or ten smaller ones based on your preference). Set them aside for half an hour in the fridge. Grab a shallow pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and fry the bulgur balls for about four minutes on each side. You’ll know they’re ready when they get crisp and golden.

A pan of freshly made tomato sauce Step 5

Make a fresh tomato sauce to serve with the cakes. Chop the tomatoes and cook over high heat in a saucepan with the olive oil for about five minutes. Crush the tomatoes using a fork, add in a little pepper and the pomegranate molasses, and serve while still warm. Enjoy!