The southeastern region of Turkey is full of culinary wonders, preserving the centuries-old traditions, some making their way throughout the rest of the country, some not. One such example of not making it completely out is the bello of Mardin.
What is bello?
With the combination of thin bulgur, lentils and eggs, each cooked to the right point, they are mashed together with a variety of spices to make for a delicious little delicacy.Jump to Recipe
The Turks have been eating lentils for quite a long while. Considering that red lentil soup is to this day one of the most beloved and staple dishes in Turkish cuisine as a whole, that is not surprising. When the Turks settled in Anatolia in the Seljuk era, lentils were one of their main legumes and they cultivated them ever after. (1)
The Seljuks are known for their simplistic cuisine, which does not mean it was bland in taste, especially compared to the haute couture cuisine of the Ottomans in the following centuries. The dish mentioned here is the cousin or maybe even sibling of Accin, just without the meat in it – a dish that is also known as kibbeh nayeh w’khodrawat in Syria. (2) It can be presumed that the lack of meat available made locals experiment with anything else that could be added to make these köfte stick together well and increase its volume, with here eggs winning the race. Eggs were already a part of Accin so making the conclusion of adding them into the mix made sense.
The little protein bomb made it even more filling to the people of Mardin, spreading throughout the regions as a meat-less version of Accin.
Of course, the eggless version is more widely known throughout Turkey and with a different set of spices to boot.
This dish is called bello, belloğ and in Diyarbakır it is known as belluh.
Bello: Vegetarian lentil köfte with eggs
- 320 grams red lentils
- 400 grams thin bulgur
- 6 eggs
- 3 onions
- 2 coriander
- half a bundle of green onions
- half a bundle of parsley
- 100 ml olive oil
- 400 ml vegetable oil
- 5 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 head of lettuce
- Boil the lentils in some water and salt.
- Meanwhile, chop the onions finely and roast them in the vegetable oil.
- Once they have softened, add the tomato paste to this and continue cooking both together.
- Add the thin bulgur to the lentils, turn off the heat and close the lid of the pot, the remaining moisture will soften the bulgur sufficiently.
- Add the coriander and a bit more salt to the lentils and the onion mixture to the lentils and knead it through.
- Chop the parsley and green onions finely and add them into the mix as well.
- Whisk the eggs and fry them in the vegetable oil, adding them to the lentil mixture as well.
- Knead it through one last time, taste if any more salt is required and squeeze small pieces to elongated little portions that are served with lettuce leaves.