In Turkish cuisine, like throughout the Middle East, both red and green lentils are used quite often, especially in winter time. Red lentils are mostly used in soups and appetizer balls.Green lentils are cooked as main dishes. Lentils are the main ingredient in some of these dishes, while in others, they are mixed with other grains like bulgur. Some of these dishes are vegetarian, some has ground beef, lamb or chicken meat in them. I included ground beef in the recipe below, but you can skip the meat if you want. You decide!
1/4 lb lean ground beef (optional)
1 medium onion chopped
4 table spoons of olive oil
2 medium carrots
2 cups dry green lentils
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon paprika or red chili peppers
1½ cup boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak green lentils in cold water for at least 1 hour. Do not soak overnight for lentils may start to germinate.
Wash and peel the carrots. Slice them about 1/8 inch thick. Cut them at a 45 degree angle if you want the slices to be in an elliptical shape rather than a circle.
In a large pot sauté chopped onions and ground beef (optional) in olive oil for about 3-5 minutes.
Add carrots and lentils to the pot. Put the tomato paste in a small bowl. Add ½ cup water to it, mix with a spoon. Add the tomato paste, paprika (or chili powder), remaining boiling water, salt & pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and let it simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
Serve hot with some kind of pilaf like rice, bulgur or quinoa.