Tuesday, November 20th 2018

TPR Travel Tip: Boiled sheep head for breakfast?

Have you ever tried a boiled sheep head? No? Does not sound appealing? How about eating a sheep head for breakfast? You would not?

Well, tasting food is an indispensable part of travelling which includes trying food which is not typical in your home country, and sometimes seems strange or looks/smells unpleasant, even disgusting.

When a couchsurfer Soroush from Shiraz asked us if we had already eaten a sheep head, we had to answer No. He was very passionately recommending us to try it, especially a tongue, cheeks and eyes. Eyes??????? was Mara’s reaction. Although we were quite surprised that this dish is a typical breakfast food in Iran we were determined to try it before we leave Iran.

In Isfahan our CS host recommended us to look for a place serving heads around Azadi sq. We arrived to the square and entered the first place we stumbled upon. It is a small eatery with big pots full of heads in boiling water.

sheep head isfahan iran 01

After discussing price options we decided to order a portion with a tongue each. You can order a whole head or order its parts separately. The whole head was for 200 000 Rials (5,8USD), a portion with parts of a head for 50 000 Rials (1,47USD).

So heads are boiled in a big pot before they are served to clients.

sheep head isfahan iran 02

We were told that one head can be shared by several people, and sometimes it can be too much for two persons. Tongues and cheeks are recommended as the best parts. Soroush (from Shiraz) loves eyes and highly recommended us to try them.

sheep head isfahan iran 07

We decided to take it slowly and ordered two portions with tongues, and depending on the outcome to order more. From the pot with boiling broth heads are taken to a big deep plate where they are “dismantled” and prepared for being served to clients.

sheep head isfahan iran 08

The “dismantle master” is happily performing his duties and laughs at such newbies as we are. Though everybody assured us that sheep heads are delicious the smell and sight of them were implying the opposite. I could not stop from thinking about our food experiments in China last year.

sheep head isfahan iran 06

Order was taken and we took seats to wait for what was coming our way. Doubts were still present in our heads. The first to come was broth in metals bowls and bread. We cleared our minds from doubts and started….

The broth turned out to be quite tasty. Surprisingly it was flavored with cinnamon. Quite an unusual combination i must say. If added, lemon juice gives some freshness to the taste.

sheep head isfahan iran 03

The second to come was the tongue which was quite good. Actually it was very tasty maybe a bit too oily. Eating the tongue we decided to ordered highly recommended cheeks and unusual food – eyes.

sheep head isfahan iran 04

I imagined that eyes will look like….well, like eyes, balls of white with dark irises. But when the plate with cheek meat and eyes arrived I was not really able to make the eye from the rest of the meat on the plate. It took me a while till I actually found it. It was just a piece of meat, maybe looking a bit differently, but in general same muscle structure.

sheep head isfahan iran 05

The taste is ok, not bad, not good. I still prefer the tongue and the cheek. All in all the taste was better than I expected, not unpleasant or anything. It is not a usual type of food in Ukraine, or Czech Republic. But it is far from being as bad as some of the Chinese dishes.

If you travel or plan to travel through Iran, you should definitely try it, if not the whole head at least a tongue and cheeks. Ask someone local for a good place to taste a sheep head.

Would you eat a sheep head for breakfast? What other unusual food have you tried?

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14 Comments on “TPR Travel Tip: Boiled sheep head for breakfast?”

  1. time for breakfast in prague! where to get a sheep head now?

    1. Can send you one ;-)))

  2. As you delicatily put it… eating native food is a part of travelling. I had tounge in Bulgaria and it is tasty as well as I love their tripe soup Shkembe

    1. Yeah, we eat tongues in Ukraine as well. Mostly cow. I tried pork tongue in Japan, it was pretty good as well ;-)

    2. Yeah exactly Shekambeh is a Persian word that means tripe.
      I think we should export sheep head :D

  3. Hi man!
    You describe it really mouth watering, i think now i missed those eyes.

    1. Hehe, Soroush, it was good. thank you for the tip ;-)))

  4. Hi!
    This food isn’t unusual in Portugal! We eat the brains and toungues to.
    I love very much the sheep head roast in the oven. Is delicious! :-P

    1. I have never think about roasting it in oven, is it delicious? So how can you add spicies to it.
      Which parts do you roast?

    2. Oh, interesting. I did not know. Thank you, Manuela. Will definitely try it next time in Portugal.

  5. Thanks for yet another post. I appreciate that you take a curious and non-judgmental approach to various food experiences. It seems that in areas with a very long tradition of sheep farming the whole (or almost the whole) animal is consumed or used in some way. Why discard things that can be eaten? Sheep head is a traditional dish, for example, also in Iceland, Norway and on the Swedish island of Gotland (in the Baltic sea). It can be boiled, oven baked or smoked.

    1. Rolf, thank you for reading and the update. I will add a baked sheep head to try in Sweden to my travel plans. Hopefully we will visit you next year and will bake a head together. It was really an interesting experience in Iran.

  6. […] Before arriving to Isfahan, our friend from Shiraz has recommended that we should try a special Iranian morning dish, and that would be : sheep head.  You can read more about this experience here. […]

  7. great

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