The Sheki Piti – complete with floating lamb fat

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

VIP Karvan Restaurant

Product country

Azerbaijan

Product city

Sheki

Travelled with

Couple

Reasons for trip

Culture/Sightseeing

‘A lump of lamb fat floating lugubriously in broth’ is how Lonely Planet described piti, the traditional dish of Sheki in Azerbaijan. However, it had to be tried and our guide took us to the VIP Karvan Restaurant, a huge place over several floors with the ground floor undergoing renovation. The floor we chose was relatively quiet in terms of customers, although there was live music.

We started with a compote, a drink made from mixing sugar, water and a fruit called feyxoa or feijoa – a green oblong fruit said to resemble the combined taste of strawberries, citruses, pineapple, kiwi and other fruits.

Piti is a hearty stew cooked in a clay pot, or dopu: the city was historically known as a potters’ city as clay from the nearby mountains was used to create the piti pots.

Made with lamb, chickpeas, chestnuts, dried plums, onions, saffron, and sheep tail fat, the ingredients are added in stages as the lamb meat cooks very slowly.

Our individual pottery dopu were brought to the table where the waiter skillfully removed the huge lump of lamb fat covering the top and placed it on a plate. Using a fork to hold the solids inside, he poured the broth into a soup bowl before mashing the solids together with a fork, along with a small piece of the fat (normally the whole piece would be added, but our guide suggested it would be too much for us). You can either eat the soup first, or put the mashed solids into the soup, and we tried both. Served with a huge basket of bread, it was rich and filling and we were told it was considered a workers’ dish as it kept you full all day.

We were therefore surprised when another dish arrived: a plate of xengel (or khangal) – sheets of thinly rolled pasta (but made simply from flour and water with no egg), topped with mince and a garlic yoghurt sauce. It was also delicious, but all a bit too much.

However, a couple of local beers helped cut through the rich food, which was followed by tea on the terrace, which came with small irresistible pieces of baklava.

Needless to say, breakfast the next morning was very light.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.