Toum – Lebanese Garlic Sauce Recipe


Toum – Lebanese Garlic Sauce Recipe

Note: You can click here to see my evolutionary invention to produce awesome toum in 3 minutes. The article below is still worth a read so you gain an understanding of the toum making process.

My brother Fady eats garlic sauce spread on Lebanese bread all on its own. He says that with garlic, you gain your health but loose your friends. The consumption of garlic in Lebanon is, and historically has been in such copious quantities that the Lebanese can hardly claim any vampire of note. Where should I begin to explain what a pivotal role garlic plays in Lebanese cuisine? The relative of the onion has been consumed as a food and a medicine in the Mediterranean since the days of the pharaohs. It has been referred to in the Old Testament (Numbers 11:5) as one of the foods that were consumed in Egypt, alongside with melons, onions, cucumbers and leeks.. It is used in thousands of recipes and never a day goes by when it is not eaten. Mixed with lemon juice and olive oil, it is our most used salad dressing and meat or chicken marinade.

The Lebanese word for garlic is toum, which is also how we refer to the fluffy white garlic sauce that is served in restaurants with roast chicken, chicken shawarma and shish tawook (chicken skewers). Its affinity with chicken is therefore evident, but it also goes beautifully with lamb, beef and goat meat. Making toum is actually easy, but you need a food processor, and lots of patience. Once you make this sauce, you might get addicted, so beware.

Before I get into the recipe, I want to give you a few pointers:

  1. Always use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil, the sauce will taste lighter and the texture will be fluffier than if you use olive oil
  2. The idea is to create an emulsion with the oil, garlic and lemon juice
  3. Be patient. It will take around 10 minutes with a food processor to get a finished product. Rushing will cause the sauce to split
  4. Use good quality fresh garlic and peel it yourself. Don’t buy already peeled garlic since it has been refrigerated
  5. The Australian market is flooded with Chinese garlic, which is of a lesser quality, so try to avoid it. Use Mexican garlic, or most preferably Australian garlic
  6. Avoid bulbs with green growth, and choose tight bulbs
  7. Make sure all your equipment is free of any traces of water, which could make the sauce split

Toum – Lebanese Garlic Sauce Recipe


how the garlic sauce should look like as it churns through the food processor

Ingredients

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup peeled whole garlic cloves (not crushed)
1 heaped tbsp salt
4 cups of neutral oil, canola or vegetable oil (Edit: Since this recipe was published, I’ve come to understand that seed and commercial vegetable oils are highly inflammatory and largely contribute to heart disease and diabetes. I suggest using oils low in Omega 6 and high in monounsaturated fats. As neutral oils go, a high oleic sunflower such as this one would be a good option.)

  1. Put salt and garlic cloves in food processor and pulse. Scrape the sides a couple of times and pulse some more, until the garlic is nicely even in chunk size
  2. Turn on the food processor and in a very very thin stream, add 1/2 cup oil very gradually. Adding too much oil too soon will split the sauce
  3. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice, also gradually, allowing them to incorporate properly
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all your ingredients have been used up. Do NOT exceed the oil and lemon juice quantities in each repetition
  5. After (or during) the 2nd addition of oil, you will notice the emulsion take place. If your sauce doesn’t split, then you’ve done well and added the oil in the required slow manner. You can add any left over lemon juice at the end, but add it slowly as the food processor churns through. If the sauce splits, just stop because it’s ruined. Abort the mission, add an egg white and make aioli instead

88 Comments

  • Trish says:

    FOUAD….I'm so jealous as this is my favourite dip ever!!!! but no matter how many times I try, it doesn't matter how much I concentrate or how patient I am, I just cannot get it to work.

    You know if you have spare, I would be more than happy to take it off your hands for you……

  • SydneyCider says:

    Hey Trish

    I would have loved to give you some, but I've already had my stash stolen by my friends. You have to follow the recipe to the letter. Keep the food processor going at all times. I promise, it is failsafe if you do exactly what the recipe says.

  • curious reader says:

    I love this dip and can't wait to try it. But to turn a failed version of it into aioli, shouldn't we add an egg yolk (or three) rather than an egg white?

  • Arwen from Hoglet K says:

    I've bought toum before, and found it was great for adding flavour. Just a spoonful in my mashed potatoes was great. I'm glad your instructions include a rescue for unemulsified toum as aoli.

  • sis says:

    Hi Fouady,

    I am invited to lunch at a friends' house tomorrow and I need to make a good salad to take it with me. Any ideas?
    sis

  • Anonymous says:

    My god! making toum is like stepping into a minefield…at any given moment…"split"….Finally an entry about toum…I shall try it, but if it fails, I'll just become your friend… : )

  • Simply Life says:

    Yum, that sauce sounds delicious!

  • Pam says:

    Very nice blog you have and congrats on the foodie blogroll!

  • Sook says:

    First time here. Everything here looks wonderful!

  • SydneyCider says:

    Curios Reader – you've got to try making it. It's really easy. By the way, traditional aioli doesn't actually need eggs at all, but if it fails, the egg white will bind the oil to the garlic and lemon juice sufficiently. To properly be called aioli, it also needs olive oil, but hey 🙂

    Arwen – the commercially bought toum usually has some emulsifier or potatoes. This is the real deal

    Anonymous – you have to be careful, add the proportions just like in the recipe

    Simply Life – it is delicious. try it now if you haven't!!!

    Pam, Thanks! It explains why I'm getting so many comments.

    Sook – Thanks, I try my best, usually.

  • Margot says:

    First time here as well. I love garlic and when I feel brave enough, I would love to try your delish-looking toum.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great recipe. I am going to try and make it tomorrow. If I succeed how long does it keep for in the fridge?

  • SydneyCider says:

    Margot – Thanks, did you try it/
    Anonymous – The one I gave to my friends has around 5 weeks in the fridge

  • tasteofbeirut says:

    I am so excited to have found your blog! really cool!

  • SydneyCider says:

    Thanks tasteofbeirut!

  • rony Zibara says:

    Fouad,

    I love Toum and you recipe!!, I am Lebanese and just launched a new magazine called Poetry of Food, poetryoffood.com. It has writers from Beirut, and Greg Maloug from Sydney. Check it out and please
    spread the word on it. Yo will find my mom's lebanese recipes.

    rony@poetryoffood.com

    Rony

  • SydneyCider says:

    Hi Rony

    Thanks for reading! I love your e-mag. It looks great and reads well. I've put a link up on my site to hopefully direct some traffic your way. Good luck!

    Fouad

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi!

    So I have a real craving for chicken and garlic at the moment but I have no Lebanese shops nearby to buy any!!…
    I thought I might try making it myself but I don't have a food processor 🙁

    Is there any other way I could do it?

  • SydneyCider says:

    Hi

    I thought you might need a speedy reply. I think there is a way to make it by hand, but you need a pestle and mortar. Try this technique, but I make no guarantees, as I have not really tried this (but I've done something similar for balila). You pound the garlic until it is extra fine with a bit of salt. You add the oil a teaspoon at a time, and encorporate thoroughly. I think a whisk can be used as well. Don't add too much in one go, and maybe add some lemon juice every 5 teaspoons or so.

    After you've made a bit, try whipping an egg white, and then slowly encorporate the mix into it. After that is done, you can add more oil until you have the desired flavour.

    Let me know if this works (yayks, good luck)…

    Fouad

  • Anonymous says:

    Ahahahaha ok, massive fail!

    Mainly due to my impatience I think… And the fact I'm completely hopeless in the kitchen!

    Thanks for your help anyway! I'm definitely going to try again soon (or have someone else try for me! :D)

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much- recipe definately 'failsafe' as you say. Just dont get too tempted to pour in more oil or lemon juice just because it is nearing the end of it ppl and you will be fine!! Yummm it made so much, cant wait to take it to my family bbq tomorrow! Thanks again!

  • Tony says:

    Hi Fouad! thanks for sharing your recipe– I can literally never have enough of this sauce 🙂

  • Eva says:

    I won't lie I was kinda worried at first that it wouldn't come out just right. With all the tips and your specifications in the recipe I have never been more happier. I've always been obsessed with this sauce and adore you for sharing it with the rest of us. Finally I don't have to keep on spending the money to buy this amazing sauce but can make it on my own. thank you thank you thank you… my bank account thanks you as well 🙂

  • SydneyCider says:

    Anonymous 1 — oops, emulsions are really tricky things.

    Anonymous 2, Eva, and Tony — thank you for reading! I am glad this worked for you! It is a tricky recipe for something so simple.

  • Viviane says:

    I just landed on your blog and read your profile, and I think the reason why Lebanese don't blog is because it is not glamorous. Internet connections are fine really, but how many Lebanese will admit that they can or like to cook? Almost none.
    Anyhow I was surprised that people add egg whites to Toum. First time I ever hear it. The Pestle mortar thing works, but it can split way easier than food processor one. Mom usually uses pestle and mortar rather than food processor to make it. Easier for smaller quantities but requires more patience. I gotta admit you got a huge batch by the amounts in your recipe. You forgot to mention that Toum goes great with potatoes wether they are baked or fried 😀
    One more thing, try to make garlic bread with this or garlic bread and cheese… YUM
    Glad I stumbled on your blog.

  • SydneyCider says:

    Hi Viviane and thanks for the comment.
    It's funny. I wrote my profile ages ago, and it is in need of an update, as since, I have found several great Lebanese food bloggers. And you are right, toum and potatoes are a match made in heaven.

  • Rachael says:

    I wanted to use olive oil, plus a quarter of this recipe. Of course it split. Then I added an egg instead of an egg white by accident. I ended up adding two eggs, hoping it would thicken but it didn't. How can I thicken it and make something worth eating out of it?

  • SydneyCider says:

    Hi Rachael

    Basically you will need to follow a mayonnaise recipe, but instead if using oil, you use the mixture you have now. In a food processor, add eggs with some salt and lemon juice and turn it on. In a thin stream, add the the mixture, stopping every once in a while to scrape down the sides.

    Have a read here http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/12974/basic+mayonnaise

    Good luck 🙂

  • Rachael says:

    Hi SydneyCider

    I made the mayonnaise and it's tangy/strong and fabulous! I'll make wraps with it when my stepsons come over next weekend.

    Thank you, thank you!

    I want to use a good quality oil when I try this again as I don't trust Canola or normal veggie oil from a metabolism point of view (eg Canola is made from rape seed which is poisonous to humans). I have bought sunflower oil to try next time. Is there any feedback on this?

  • Anonymous says:

    thanks mate, I will give the garlic dip a go this arvo – i have been looking for this recipe for years! Our local pizza shop (la bella casa) princes hwy tempe, does plain oiled cooked pizza base straight out of oven, then this dip is applied all over the top – its magic!

    Andy

  • Mar Mikael says:

    Brilliant. I'll try making it and keep you posted. If it doesn't work out, I'll just pop to the shop next door 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey mate,

    How does this recipe turn out making it a mortar and pestle? The traditional way…

  • Ore says:

    Your photo above shows the mixture in a kitchen aid with the whip attachment? Is this to get the airy texture?

    The temp. of the water should be cold? Ice cold?

    Thanks!

  • Fouad says:

    Hi Ore

    What you are seeing is the food processor’s blade, not a whisk. I didn’t use anything for texture since it just gets that texture on its own. I used tap water, but have since been advised to use ice cold water, which sounds like a good idea. Give that a try and let us know.

    Fouad

  • Rachael says:

    Hey, I used sunflower oil (because I don’t trust canola) and it worked (see my mess above trying olive oil)! I finally have the genuine real deal! It’s possibly not as white as canola but that doesn’t bother me.

    It had too much salt in this batch, but we added it into a marinara stirfry (my parents are staying this week) and it was the exact flavour match we needed!

    That pizza base idea is great too, Anonymous!

    Thank you Fouad! 🙂

  • d says:

    Made this over the weekend and it was quite the success! It turned out exactly like the ones I have at Habibs in Bankstown… YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  • gr50667 says:

    Thanks for the recipe .We tried the recipe and it turned out fabulous !!!!!!!!! great .

  • […] closest in flavour to my favourite version that I used to have in Lebanon. Eat it with plenty of toum and some pickled cucumber with Lebanese bread, and then tell me if it’s not the best chicken […]

  • Sarah says:

    I have tried to make it this way a million times but it just doesn’t seem to hold. I don’t know what the secret is but I would love to know. I cheat and add half a boiled potato and puree it until it dissolves into it. 😐 Such a cheater. What a shame.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Heaty-Cooling Happiness =-.

  • Sarah says:

    Ufff! I’m gonna cry! I swear! Lol. It looks amazing! Mine split. BOOHOO! I added a super boiled potato until it was pureed and a a tiny bit of milk. I’m such a cheater but it gave me the same result I was looking for. Yalla! Thanks for reminding me that I haven’t made this in a while and despite it splitting, it’s gonna work great with my fake-o recipe.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Happy Time Pizza Dough (I’ve given it a lame name, Cheri.) =-.

  • Fouad says:

    Hi Sarah – a boiled potato will work well, though the consistency will be slightly different, but nevertheless garlicky and yummy. hope you enjoy 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    We did enjoy it! So much! Hehe. I also made fresh arabic bread with it and it was amazing!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Happy Time Pizza Dough (I’ve given it a lame name, Cheri.) =-.

  • […] before: the best toum (Lebanese garlic sauce) ever. And I still stand by it. But hear me out. My first toum recipe is undeniably a success story, having made possible what most of you thought was impossible: […]

  • All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. I made this a couple weeks ago, following your directions to the t and it came out beautifully. Better than the local Lebanese place we eat at regularly. It made A LOT, so we were “forced” to totally splurge on it until it was gone. Amazing.
    .-= Me, Myself & Pie´s last blog ..Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad =-.

  • forager says:

    Thank you… I’ve been thinking about making toum for years, but never found a recipe that I could put my faith in. Years ago, I failed miserably with a huge batch, you see. But your recipe seemed to have just the right combination of detail and insight, so I made a half batch in a mini cuisinart, and it came out perfectly! The trick with the smaller batch, I think, was to frequently scrape the sides and lid down with a rubber spatula and mix it a little.

    Anyway, this stuff is like white gold to me, and I can never find it. Now I can make my own, it tastes better than any restaurant’s, and I can use my own healthy oils… sounds crazy, but I’m very excited. Bless you my friend.

    Bern
    Ann Arbor, MI

  • Nada says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I always nearly get there and then it splits. This time I even went out and bought a new processor. I got halfway through but the machine overheated and I had to wait for the machine to cool down before I could continue. The mix was looking really good at this stage. When I went to restart the mix it split within seconds, any suggestions. What food processors do you use. I have a new Breville Icon. Please help, I have many attempts at making this and always fail.

  • Fouad says:

    My, Myself and Pie – I’m so glad it worked out for you! I’m also happy you enjoyed it so much

    Hi Forager /Bern – thanks for sharing! It is like white gold isn’t it! 🙂

    Hi Nada – Maybe you want to check out my latest recipe for toum. It is actually much easier than this one. Have a look here: http://thefoodblog.com.au/2010/04/fast-and-easy-toum-the-best-lebanese-garlic-sauce-recipe.html

  • Fouad, do you think the recipe would work if I reduced it by half? Last time we were up to our ears in garlic sauce and would like to make a little less. But I love this recipe!

  • Hummus says:

    Hi! This dip looks wonderful. Can’t wait to try it for my sister’s party this weekend. Cheers!

  • Fouad says:

    Hi Me, Myself & Pie – is there such a thing as too much garlic sauce? 🙂 In any case, I think halving is fine. The egg makes things sturdy. What’s the worst that could happen? Add the other half, make a tonne of toum and give it to the neighbours

    Hello Hummus – yeah! it is wonderful. You’re most welcome

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