Tail fat

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Fat-tailed sheep

Tail fat is the fat of some breeds of sheep, especially of fat-tailed sheep. It is fat accumulated in baggy deposits in the hind parts of a sheep on both sides of its tail and on the first 3-5 vertebrae of the tail. The weight of this part of a sheep's anatomy may be up to 30 kg. It is used to accumulate fat for subsequent use during dry seasons, similar to a camel's humps.[1][2]

It is known under the name kurdyuk in Russian and in Central Asian languages, [3] derived from the proto-Turkic *kudruk meaning "tail" [4](cf. kuyruk, "tail", in Turkish, etc.[5]). Tail fat is known in Arabic as لية, (leeyeh, leyyah, or layeh), zaaka in Algeria, kyuruk yag (literally "tail fat") in Turkish, and in Persian as donbeh or dombeh,[1] words which may be found in local food culture and in sheep breeds' names.

The rendered tail fat does not solidify at room temperature and is used in cuisine.[2] The cracklings left after the rendering or frying of kurdyuk may be used as an appetizer. [1][3] When being rendered, kurdyuk emits a strong odor, described as "acidy-poisonous". However, it has a rich flavor when ready to eat. In particular it is used to cook kofta, pilav, and other traditional dishes. [1]


  1. ^ a b c d Jill Tilsley-Benham, ""Sheep with Two Tails: Sheep's Tail-Fat as Cooking Medium in the Middle East", In: Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, 1986: The Cooking Medium, p. 48
  2. ^ a b Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, article "Курдюк"
  3. ^ a b Food Culture in Russia and Central Asia By Glenn Randall Mack, Asele Surina ,p. 111
  4. ^ S. A. Starostin, A. V. Dybo, O. A. Mudrak, "An Etymological Dictionary of Altaic Languages", 2003, Bril
  5. ^ http://www.nisanyansozluk.com/?k=kuyruk