Aromatic Toum: A Versatile Lebanese Garlic Sauce

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Toum, also known as toumya or thoum, is a vibrant Lebanese garlic sauce that packs a serious punch. It’s a staple condiment in Lebanese cuisine, often served alongside grilled meats, vegetables, or scooped up with warm pita bread. This creamy, spreadable sauce is surprisingly simple to make, requiring just a handful of ingredients and a little bit of patience.


Toum (Garlic Whip)
Toum (Garlic Whip)

1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more as needed
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

  • Directions:

    1. Prep the Garlic: In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves with the salt until they form a smooth paste. This can take some time and effort, so be patient! Alternatively, you can use a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse the garlic cloves and salt several times, scraping down the sides as needed, until a fine paste forms.

    2. Emulsify the Sauce: With the mortar and pestle still in hand, slowly drizzle in the oil, a little at a time, while continuously pounding the mixture. This is a crucial step for creating the sauce’s signature creamy texture. As you add the oil, the mixture will begin to thicken and emulsify.

    3. Adjust Consistency: Once all the oil is incorporated, stir in the lemon juice and ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the toum reaches your desired consistency. It should be thick and spreadable, but still pourable. If the sauce gets too thick, simply add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time.

    4. Taste and Adjust: Give your toum a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Add more salt for savoriness, a squeeze of extra lemon juice for brightness, or a pinch of cayenne pepper for a touch of heat.

    5. Serve and Store: Transfer the toum to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Serve chilled alongside your favorite Lebanese dishes or enjoy it as a flavorful dip with pita bread.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving):

    Calories: 160

  • Fat: 14g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 480mg (depending on salt content)
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 1g

  • Conclusion

    Toum is a versatile condiment that can elevate a variety of dishes. Its bold garlicky flavor adds a depth of savory richness to grilled meats, roasted vegetables, and even simple pita bread. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make at home with just a few basic ingredients. So next time you’re looking for a flavorful and authentic Lebanese addition to your meal, give toum a try!

    FAQs After The Conclusion:

    1. Is toum vegan?

    Yes, toum is naturally vegan as it’s made with just garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt, and water.

    2. Can I substitute the mortar and pestle?

    While a mortar and pestle is the traditional tool for making toum, you can achieve similar results with a food processor. Just be sure to pulse the garlic in short bursts to prevent it from becoming bitter.

    3. How long does toum last?

    Toum will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container.

    4. What can I do with leftover toum?

    Toum is a versatile condiment that can be used in many ways. Here are a few ideas:

    Spread it on sandwiches or wraps for a flavorful kick.

  • Use it as a dip for vegetables or pita bread.
  • Drizzle it over grilled meats or roasted vegetables.
  • Add a dollop to soups or stews for extra garlicky depth.

  • 5. Can I make toum spicier?