Black bean vegan koftas are an easy mixture of black beans, bulgur, and spices that are then rolled and baked. Serve these with delicious accompaniments like sumac pickled onions, cashew aioli, pita bread, or just ketchup.
What you'll need
This is a surprisingly easy street food-inspired meal and will motivate you to get busy creating a few fun condiments and trimmings.
We love these with quick-pickled onions with sumac and garlicky cashew aioli. You could also take them in an entirely different direction with pickled beets, mustard, or even BBQ sauce.
One thing to love about this recipe is the ingredient list which is straightforward and pantry-friendly. Because you want to form little kofta 'logs' and have them stick together until you bite into them, you need to have a few flavorful binding ingredients. We used 4:
Black beans – 1 can or 1 ½ cups of cooked rinsed black beans are enough for 1 batch of this recipe. We like the texture of a few whole beans, so I mashed them with a large fork. You can also place them in a food processor and pulse them a few times. This will break them down a bit more.
Bulgur – Cook bulgur in twice the amount of water (½ cup of bulgur to 1 cup of water). It takes about 15 minutes to cook it, so start this at the beginning of your prep.
Flax egg – Flax eggs are a vegan cook’s secret weapon. It's a simple combination of 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Hey, that’s exactly how long you need for the bulgur to cook. Fancy, that.
Breadcrumbs – These will further bind the ingredients by soaking up any moisture hiding in the first three ingredients. I didn’t get too fancy here and used a piece of bread pulsed a few times in the spice grinder.
The secondary ingredients bring on unique flavors.
Garlic – 3 cloves of sharp garlic heats things up properly.
Soy sauce – Use light or dark soy or Tamari for a savory, salty flavor.
Oregano – Bold and earthy flavor that is well-suited here. The recipe uses dry oregano. If you want to use fresh, finely mince it. Fresh herbs are less potent than dried, so you may want to adjust as needed.
Chili flakes – Depending on how spicy-hot you like your food, you may want to add more. We settled for 1 teaspoon.
Black pepper – The spicy, bold flavor of black pepper is underappreciated. That said, we can get overzealous with the pepper grinder. Black pepper will happily take charge of the other flavors. I settled on ½ a teaspoon which is enough to remind you it’s there without being the only thing you taste.
Cumin – The warmth and earthiness of cumin everywhere as far as I'm concerned. A little goes a long way, so just add a teaspoon.
Coriander – It's fragrant, floral, citrusy, and NOT cumin. Don’t confuse the two. Coriander and cumin are spice compliments which is why they are often used together. Ground coriander is not the same as fresh coriander (cilantro). They have different tastes and applications.
Sumac – This might be the exotic spice on the list. If you don’t have it, you’re long overdue to treat yourself. It’s not that big a treat as it’s relatively inexpensive, but the flavor, the flavor is rich.
Think lemon zest without the bitterness, and you’re in the ballpark for sumac flavor. The bold, tart flavor may remind you of tamarind, although sumac is more earthy and less sweet.
Salt – I found the flavor needed a bit of additional salt, even with the addition of soy sauce. This is entirely optional.
Tips for making this
It's good practice to mix up the garlic, spices, and breadcrumbs in a small bowl before adding them to the beans. This makes equally distributing the spices easier. You can do this while the bulgur cooks.
Before adding anything else, mash the black beans in a medium bowl. Then add everything else and test that the mixture will hold together.
If the kofta mixture seems too dry, be sure to use your hands to knead it before adding any additional liquid. If that does not solve the problem, add water a teaspoon at-a-time.
Quick-pickled sumac onions
This is a twist on my traditional marinated red onions because we’ll add an entire cup of chopped parsley along with sumac. Start the onions first so that they have time to marinate. They will be tart and soft by the time you are ready to add them to your plate.
Take this comforting dish to the max by adding a nice creamy dressing. Our preference is garlicky, vegan aioli. I add to anything I can. In case you want an alternative, I suggest sriracha tahini dressing, lemon tahini dressing, or classic plant-based ranch dressing.
Tips for the creamiest cashews
After years of making dips and sauces with cashews, I’ve changed my position regarding preparation. If you want the creamiest, blended cashew anything, you should soak the cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes.
Pro tips for timing
To make the best use of your kitchen time, let’s have some sequential talk.
- Start with the onions. They can rest and marinate while you do everything else.
- If you are making vegan aioli, soak the cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes before making it (you can do this while the kofta bakes).
- Make the flax egg. 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds + 3 tablespoons of water.
- Cook the bulgur. This will take about 15 minutes. While that happens, you can pull together the rest of the kofta ingredients, get your baking tray ready, etc.
In Middle Eastern or Indian cooking, kofta means savory small balls or similar shapes. Kofta is often considered a meat dish; however, it is easy to create tasty vegan kofta without losing flavor or texture.
Kebabs are usually served on skewers and can be as simple as chunks of meat. Kofta is balls or shapes with multiple ingredients.
The health of any dish depends on the ingredients and how they are cooked. In this recipe, we use only plant-based ingredients and prepare everything with no oil. This ensures maximum nutrition with minimal added fat and calories.
You can freeze baked kofta for up to 3 months. Be sure that you wrap them tightly or store them in a freezer bag. To bake them, place them in a 4000 F. (2000 C.) oven and bake them for 15-20 minutes until they are heated through.
What to serve with kofta
In addition to the onions and aioli, serve koftas with pita bread or wraps. You may also want to consider additional spreads or even a quick side salad. Something as simple as shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, or cucumber is equally as welcoming.
Other recipes you might like
A loaded pita with kofta, plenty of sumac onions, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomatoes, with a dollop of vegan aioli, might remind you of the best take-out food ever. But who needs take-out when you can make something healthier that tastes even better. And besides, you can score another plate if you make it yourself. I’m just saying…Peace.Print
black bean vegan koftas
Black bean vegan koftas are healthfully baked, oil-free, and served with tasty trimmings like quick-pickled sumac onions and vegan aioli.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 12 koftas 1x
- Category: Tacos and Wraps
- Cuisine: Turkish
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 3 Tbsp. water
- ½ cup bulger
- 1 cup of water
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. chili flakes
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 ½ tsp. sumac
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups cooked black beans rinsed and drained (1 - 15 oz. or 400 gm. can)
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce or Tamari
Quick-pickled sumac onions
- 2 small red onions, cut in half, and sliced
- 1 cup chopped parsley (flat-leaf or curly)
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. sumac
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes
- 2 – 3 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3-4 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ - ½ cup of water (more depending on desired consistency)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ tsp. salt (optional)
- Make the quick-pickled onions by adding all the ingredients (red onions, chopped parsley, rice vinegar, and sumac) to a shallow dish and mixing well. Set them aside until you are ready to serve.
- To prepare for the aioli, add the cashews to a small bowl with 2 cups of boiling water. Set aside.
- Start the koftas by combining 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds with 3 Tbsp. of water. Set this aside while the bulgur cooks.
- In a small saucepan, add ½ cup of bulgur with 1 cup of water. Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the bulgur until the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender (about 15 minutes).
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, chili flakes, cumin, coriander, black pepper, sumac, and salt.
- Preheat the oven to 4000 F. (2000 C.) and prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- In a medium bowl, add the black beans. Mash the bean with a fork or masher. For a smoother consistency, you can pulse them in a food processor.
- Add the soy sauce, cooked bulgur, flax egg, and breadcrumb mixture to a medium bowl. Mix well, using your hands if necessary. You should be able to form balls or small ‘logs’ that will hold together.
- Turn the mixture onto a board and divide it into six pieces. Form logs or cylinders that are about ¾ of an inch thick. Split each piece in half so that you end up with 12.
- Place the koftas on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes.
- To make the cashew aioli, drain the cashews. Place them in a blender. Add 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, and ¼ a cup of water. Blend everything, then taste and add more mustard and lemon juice. Add more water until you reach the desired consistency.
- Transfer the aioli into a bowl and then mix in 3 – 4 cloves of pressed garlic.
- Taste adjust the mustard, lemon juice, garlic, or add salt.
- Serve baked kofta with sumac onions, aioli, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumber slices, and pita bread.
- Sumac has a very unusual flavor. If you need a substitution, consider lemon zest or lemon juice.
- You can make the onions and aioli a day or two ahead. Be sure to stir both and add a little more lemon juice or water to aioli if needed.
- To reheat the kofta, wrap them in foil and heat them in an oven at 4000 F. (2000 C.) for 15 minutes.
- If you want a lower fat version of this recipe, skip the cashew aioli.
Keywords: vegan kofta