The Sheki Piti – complete with floating lamb fat

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

VIP Karvan Restaurant

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Product city


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‘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

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