Garlic paste

December 18, 2008  • 

This is one of the essential items in Lebanese food. You can make it every couple of weeks and store it in the fridge. Garlic paste or toom is used in a myriad ways:

  • Slather it on pita bread when making sandwiches or falafel or sheesh tawuk
  • Use it as an ingredient for making hummus or baba ghanuj or mtabbal
  • Use it when making dressing for salads or fattoush
  • Use it when making keftas or meatballs
  • Use it in soups, swirled at the last minute
  • Use it as a dip to scoop with toasted pita

Making toomis simple. The only task requiring some time is peeling the garlic cloves. I sit in front of the TV and do it! Grab a couple of bowls, one for the peels and one for the cloves.


2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped in half.

2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

2  teaspoons  of salt or to taste

3/4 cup vegetable oil.

Optional: 1 small baked potato or 2 slices of white bread or 1/4 cup of mayo or drained plain yogurt.


Dump the cloves, salt, lemon juice in a mini food processor (or blender). Whirl for a couple minutes then add droplets of oil with the machine running. Continue until the mixture emulsifies. At this point, you can add and process any of the following: potato (cooked) or bread (american-style, crust removed), or mayo (from a jar) or drained yogurt . This last step is for the purpose of thickening the toom and dulling the sharpness of the garlic taste. I like it with the pure and pungent taste of garlic and also because I use it throughout the week, making salad dressing, or slathered on bread, or added to pasta sauce or in soups or stews or steamed vegetables for a little zing!


15 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Henia says:

    I am a big fan of thom … thou my husband does not seem to like my garlic breathe LOL! But never knew how to make it … too easy not to try! Thanks! I was missing thom so much!

    • Joumana says:

      I am a big fan of it too! I have to warn you: this one is extra strong! If you like , try it with half the quantity of garlic first!

  2. Fina Azouz says:

    What a great idea this lebanese pesto, I just made it, its delicious , how practical to use it since most of my recipes require garlic, First time reading your blog, Thanks.

  3. domi says:

    Moi qui ADORE l’ ail (et en plus c’ est bon pour la santé) je vais tester cette ” pâte d’ ail “, merci de ces toutes nouvelles et bonnes recettes

  4. muzammil says:

    my mom is always trying to make this.she will glad to see!

  5. Vanita says:

    Another coincidence?
    In sindhi we call garlic as thoom.
    I tend to make bottles of garlic and red chilli paste blended with salt and vinegar
    and freeze.
    I use it for thai/chinese/indian cooking.

  6. Vanita says:

    Thanks Joumana for your prompt response.
    My daughter tells me the same thing.
    I have to start measuring my ingredients every time i cook
    to start the blog.I am so used to cooking by handfuls and approximates
    that i have to really get down to doing things by measurement 🙂

    • Joumana says:

      @Vanita: that’s fine, you’ll get the hang of it; it is nice also for your daughter to have mom’s recipes in an official venue for the world to see and enjoy as well as for her as a keepsake of your creations and hours of hard work in the kitchen for the benefit of the family!

  7. Nannera Murian says:

    I had a few pounds of garlic is grew last year and stored over winter. Some if was starting to sprout, so I thought it would be a good time to take inventory. I sorted all the good and bad cloves, then kept 15 of the largest cloves for planting. I peeled and placed the gloves in a baking dish and covered it with olive oil and a bit of salt, then baked if for an hour in the oven at 350. Then I blended the cloves and oil, not too successfully so I separated the paste from the olive oil. Now I have a batch of garlic oil and garlic paste! Yum!!

    • Joumana says:

      @Nannera Murian: I have been experimenting with different techniques here as well. Have you tried the one with egg white? I posted it in the blog as well.

  8. Rania says:

    I think you made a mistake .3 teaspoons of salt way to much. I did that and the salt was overpowering the garlic .. Yes! That bad

  9. sakina says:


    I have tried a few of your recipes and love every single one! you used to have a recipe for sheesh tawuk on this blog that i absolutely loved! but i can no longer find it. Can you pleaseeee help me locate it? I would love to make sheesh tawuk again!

    • Joumana says:

      @ sakina: Thank you for your appreciation! I had to take-out the recipes which have been selected for the cookbook per the publisher’s request. However, I will be making shish tawook again soon, maybe with slightly different spices and techniques, so stay tuned! 🙂

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