Piti is possibly the most muttony dish in the whole history of eating sheep. We had the pleasure of trying it in Azerbaijan.
After our mammoth wait for the ferry in Aktau we finally arrived in Baku. We arrived at 23:30 with a five-day transit visa leaving us only four days to rush to the border. Still, we opted for the more scenic northern route into Georgia, and managed to arrive at the the very pretty town Sheki on the border ready to leave the next day. We were starving. We booked in to the incredible 18th century stone Karavan Saray hotel, and headed straight to the hotel’s restaurant.
“What do you recommend?” I asked the waiter.
“Piti! It’s a local speciality.” He suggested.
Fair enough, I thought and without too much hesitation, I ordered it. I found that Piti must be eaten in stages:
Step 1) Feel the mutton scent filling the air
Piti comes in a tall ceramic pot. Immediately visible is a huge lump of sheep ass floating on the top of an unknown liquid. Pungent mutton aromas soon fill the air.
Step 2) Take some bread and rip it up into chunks
The broth is pure essence of sheep. It tastes similar to the soup we ate in a yurt in Kazakhstan. For me, a few spoonfuls were fine but any more became a bit of a chore, the only taste being that of our ovine friend.
Step 4) Proceed to eat the congealed sheep ass
For the second course, turn your attention back to the ceramic pot. After loose inspection what remains in the pot is some meat, chick peas and a huge chunk of ass. Take a fork, mash all these contents together and eat. The taste somewhat unsurprisingly is that of mutton. The fat, which has now cooled down and congealed, coats the roof of your mouth. It’s sheepier than licking a sheep (how this is possible I have no idea).
It is a real struggle to get through the whole meal. It’s a 2-course-in-1 sucker punch of mutton that stays with you long after the meal has finished. Sheepy belches continue long into the night.