Kibinai - Gastro Obscura

Prepared Foods


These savory pastries come from Lithuania's Karaim minority.

Kibinai, crescent-shaped hand pies stuffed with mutton, cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and other fillings, are a popular snack in Lithuania. The golden pastries trace their origins back to the country’s tiny Turkic Karaim, or Karaite, minority, which is concentrated in the lakeside town of Trakai, a former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

According to Karaim legend, Grand Duke Vytautas the Great brought close to 400 Karaim families to Lithuania from the Crimean peninsula at the end of the 14th century as spoils of war. Originally put to work as castle guards and servants, the Karaims established themselves as farmers, artisans, and tradespeople in Trakai, and the community was later granted self-governing status. 

Today the Lithuanian Karaim population numbers around 240, and only a few dozen remain in Trakai. The city remains the one of the best places to sample kibinai, called kybynlar in the Karaim language. Try pairing your pies with spicy Karaim krupnik, a clove-infused liquor. 

Where to Try It
Written By
Susie Armitage Susie Armitage