Toum is a garlic sauce condiment from Lebanon made by mixing garlic, oil, lemon and salt together. The texture of toum is not very saucy, rather, it’s like a light fluffy paste. The best texture is attained by using fresh garlic rather than canned or previously frozen. Young garlic has a milder garlic flavor than large mature garlic.
What sets toum apart from other garlic sauces is the amount of garlic used. Toum is very strong and with exception of oil which gives it a spreadable texture, is made mostly of garlic.
Since the sauce does not contain any emulsifying agents or ingredients such as eggs or flour to keep it together, the key to making the sauce cohesive is by slowly adding in the oil to allow the mixture enough time to emulsify.
Other variations of toum include eggs or flour to keep the sauce together or flavorings like mint. Toum is used as a dip or topping and eaten with a wide variety of foods such as shawarmas, kebabs, sandwiches, vegetables, lamb chops and over bread.
Origin & Cultural Significance
While toum sauce and variations of toum are enjoyed across the Middle East, Lebanon is considered the country of origin. Toum or thum means garlic in Arabic. Traditionally, this sauce was made by crushing and pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Today it can be more easily made using a food processor.
Lebanese Toum Recipe
Toum is a garlic sauce condiment from Lebanon made by mixing garlic, oil, lemon and salt together. The texture of toum is not very saucy, rather, it’s like a light fluffy paste.
- Garlic cloves peeled - 1 cup
- Kosher salt - 2 tsp
- Neutral oil such as canola or safflower - 3 cups
- Lemon juice (freshly squeezed) - ½ cup
- Slice the garlic cloves in half lengthwise and remove any green sprouts to cut down on bitterness.
- Transfer the sliced garlic cloves into a food processor and add the kosher salt to the garlic cloves.
- Process for a minute until the garlic becomes finely minced.
- Scrape down the sides of the food processor.
- With the food processor running, slowly pour one to two tablespoons of oil, then stop and scrape down the bowl.
- Add another tablespoon or two until the garlic starts to look creamy.
- Once the garlic looks emulsified by the first few tablespoons of oil, increase the speed of pouring the oil and alternate with the ½ cup of lemon juice until all the oil and lemon juice is incorporated. This will take about 15 minutes to complete.
- Transfer the sauce into a glass container. Tastes best after sitting overnight.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 193Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 80mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
Photo credit: Charles Haynes