Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Greek Vegetarian food on Australia Day
Lentil Keftethes (faux meatballs) with Tzatziki

This Saturday, 26 January will mark the 225th year since Australia was discovered by Captain Cook. Many people feel very patriotic on Australia Day and for some reason this has brought about a very primeval attitude for a lot of people, compelling them to eat copious amounts of meat on this day.

Unfortunately, this attitude is strongly encouraged by the media and spokesperson for Meat and Livestock Australia, Sam Kekovich in the form of a very bold and confronting campaign to eat meat, particularly lamb, on Australia Day. The controversial "lambassador" as he's been labelled has been delivering his message "Don't be un-Australian, serve lamb on Australia Day" to us for 8 years now.

Well this "long-haired, tofu-sausage-eating hippy" is very pleased to have recently come across a fantastic counter-campaign in response to the (in my opinion) appalling message Sam Kekovich and the meat industry is trying to beat us down with.

Animal protection organisation Animals Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that investigates animal cruelty and conducts strategic public awareness campaigns to expose animal abuse. Their goal is to significantly and permanently improve the welfare of all animals in Australia and believe that a better world can be created for all through promoting kindness to animals.

Their current campaign "Everyone deserves a day off" is a brilliant response to Sam Kekovich's plea to Australians to eat lamb on Australia Day. I urge you to watch this video. It not only delivers a strong message about the rights of our furry friends – it's also very, VERY funny.

This is what I'm bringing to my cousin's Australia Day barbeque this Saturday:

Lentil Keftethes (faux meatballs)

Inspired by Peter G. at Souvlaki for the Soul

Makes about 48

Note: You need a decent amount of ground coriander seeds for this recipe. I recommend buying it in bulk from an Indian grocery store. It's so much cheaper than buying the little jars from the supermarket.


  • 2 cups uncooked brown lentils
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 5 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
  • Olive oil for frying


  1. Boil lentils in a separate pot and boil potatoes in another pot.
  2. Meanwhile, cook onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat until caramelised, stirring occasionally. Takes around 30 minutes but worth the effort for that golden, sweet stuff. This is multi-tasking at its best with three burners going on the stove at the same time.
  3. After the 30 minutes, add garlic, cumin and cinnamon to caramelised onions and stir thoroughly. Cook for one minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
  4. When the potatoes are tender, drain and mash. Set aside. The lentils should be cooked by now as well. Drain them and press them in the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to remove excess water and set aside.
  5. Prepare a bowl and a large plate for dipping and flouring the keftethes. Put one lightly beaten egg in the bowl and sift the flour and coriander together over the plate. The coriander creates a beautiful crust when fried.
  6. When lentils, mashed potato and onion mixture are cool enough to touch, combine them together in a large bowl with carrot, oregano, mint, sunflower seeds, rolled oats, salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to mix well. Taste before adding egg.
  7. Add one egg and continue to mix with your hands (there's something very pleasurable about mixing this sort of gooey stuff with your bare hands). The mixture will be quite sticky so you will have to work quickly and have a bowl of water near by for frequent hand rinsing. If you have time, refrigerate the mixture for a couple of hours to firm it up.
  8. Carefully form oval-shaped balls the size of a heaped dessert spoon, dip in egg first, then roll in flour and coriander mixture, and place in one layer on a separate plate ready for frying. (You'll need at least three plates if doing the full batch of keftethes.) Repeat until all mixture is used up.
  9. Heat around 1/4 cup of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on high heat for 2 minutes. Turn heat down to medium and fry keftethes for 8 minutes, turning frequently. The keftethes will develop a lovely crust but will still be quite soft inside so turn them carefully to prevent them from falling apart. I use two dessert spoons to gently turn them.
Lentil Keftethes almost taste like the real thing. Honest, they do! Enjoy them with home-made tzatziki (yoghurt, garlic and cucumber dip).

Cooked keftethes can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to three days. To reheat, just lay them out on a baking tray and place in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 15 minutes to crisp them up again. They're also great to eat cold!

Home-made Tzatziki

Makes one small bowl, just enough for 24 keftethes


  • 200g natural Greek yoghurt (or home-made yoghurt)
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of Greek honey (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Peel and grate the cucumber. With your hands, squeeze out as much moisture from the cucumber as you can.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
  3. Transfer to a smaller serving bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
The dash of honey gives this tzatziki a slightly mellower taste and softens the garlic hit.


  1. The "everyone deserves a day off video is so good. So funny and clever. I really love it! and so did my cat! He was on my lap watching the screen laughing i'm not joking! The keftethies look delicious too. Beautiful photos again Lisa! Jackie

  2. I love the idea behind your blog--I have to admit, one of the few cuisines I haven't really explored much is Greek. But these meatballs would be a great start! I think there's a bit of that "not eating meat is unpatriotic" sentiment in the US too. Mostly I'd say it's on Thanksgiving, which is pretty much synonymous with eating turkey.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kiersten, I'm glad you came over to have a look. As you can see this blog is fairly new but in the coming weeks I'll be posting lots of Greek veggie recipes and stories so please spread the word :)

  3. Love that Animals Australia campaign! These lentil keftethes look so delicious! Do you think they could be made without egg as well? I'm not 100% vegan but I've been trying to eat vegan food as much as I can :)

    1. Thanks Deb! I think the mixture should be ok without the egg as the mashed potato and rolled oats already do most of the binding work. Perhaps you could add a little water to encourage the oats to gel up a bit more. Also, I think the flour and coriander mix should stick OK without the need to dip the keftethes in egg first. The mixture is pretty gooey anyway, especially if you mix it really well and mush up those lentils! Let me know if you go ahead and try the recipe without the egg!

  4. love the video LOL pity I didn't know about it on Australia Day, I would have spread that one around. I've just found your blog and can't wait to try some of these yummy greek recipes.

    1. Hi Sue! I'm so glad you found my blog, and yes that video is hilarious isn't it? Hope to see you here again soon!

  5. This looks amazing and reaaaaly delish! I am not a huge fan of tzatziki but these "meatballs" look fabulous! Actually I am not very good in making meatballs of non-meat, I tried it before with chichpeas and it did not work very well. Your recipe looks really nice so I have to give it a try. :-)

    1. Thank you Veggie, lovely to see you here. These lentil keftethes hold their shape pretty well, as long as you cook the lentils until they are very soft and mushy. Tzatziki can be harsh for some, but the keftethes are just as good dipped in tomato sauce/ketchup or mayonnaise. They are also delicious on their own!

  6. Hi Lisa,

    I love your blog and am looking for ideas for a sunday cookout. However, we don't consume eggs in our family. Any suggestions for an egg replacer in this recipe?



    1. Hi Div and welcome! I had an earlier comment from Deb asking the same question and I suggested she use a little extra water to gel up the oats a bit, and also to make sure the lentils are cooked thoroughly until they are quite mushy. I have also heard that using chia seeds mixed with a bit of water creates an egg-like binding substance that can be used in place of eggs. Please let me know how you go, I'd love to hear what else you're putting together for your Sunday cook-up!

    2. Egg options_ aquafaba look it up.
      basically the wataer after beans are cooked whip up till fluffy.. but there are issues if you used the canned option aquafaba- since there is BHA in the cans or other things in it.
      you can also use flax flour with water in place of eggs. Look that up online for instructions.

  7. Hi buddy, your blog’s design is simple and clean and i like it. Your blog posts are superb On On Hold Messages Australia. Please keep them coming.

  8. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about Messages On Hold Australia! Thanks for sharing this with others.

  9. These are so good! The lady who rents me a room for uni thinks I'm vegetarian because I cook with lentils and other beans. I'm not, vegetarian recipes are just good (and cheaper than meat).
    Also, I love greek food! Thanks!!

  10. I am going to adapt this to be gluten free- using potato and potato flour <3 Looks good.. but I am nut free, dairy free, gluten free so lots of changes to make but I am certain it will be just as good or better!

  11. Where is the print this recipe option?


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