Garlic paste and a giveaway

December 22, 2012  •  Category:


This garlic mortar is used daily here in kitchens; years ago I even brought one back with me to California because I missed it and could not find it anywhere; now, these are sold in all Middle-Eastern grocery stores and I have since bought several.ย 

I want to stress that a garlic press or simply chopping garlic is not ideal if one wants to cook Lebanese dishes; the pounding of fresh garlic with salt resulting in a paste is what one should be after. It is used in salad dressings, soups, stews, pasta, in short everything.

Pounding garlic into a paste was my job as an apprentice cook at 12 and my mother made me pound away until the paste was really smooth. Since I try not to salt too much, if I use salt for the garlic paste (and there’s no way to do it without the salt), I don’t add it to the dish.ย 

I also try to find locally grown garlic; even in Lebanon, garlic-country, most of the garlic sold is imported from China, so the solution is either to plant one’s own or to find a grocer who stocks local garlic, called toom baladi.ย 

When I add the paste to stews or soups, I do so at the end of cooking to keep the garlic fresh and pungent. It is also healthier that way since garlic is such a potent spice when fresh (good for the heart, circulation, blood cleanser, etc).

Peel and cut the garlic clove lengthwise; remove the green shoot if it is in there (it gets bigger as the garlic gets older). Chop the garlic fine and place in the mortar with 1/2 tsp of salt; pound away for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is pasty. Use in cooking right away or transfer to a small bowl and cover with oil till needed.



68 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    What a beautiful mortar & pestle! Mmmhhh, garlic paste…



  2. sare says:

    I prefer using wooden mortar which gives different taste than the others. The thing I use in the kitchen at least one time every day. We, in Turkiye have similar mortars but this one ise very stylish.
    Merry Christmas and new year to you and your relatives.

  3. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Can’t really beat fresh garlic, eh?

  4. deana@lostpast says:

    I love the wooden mortar. I have an old stone one with a wooden pestle that I love but never use it for garlic. I would love to try it!!!

  5. D abi Abdallah says:

    Mine! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Texmex says:

    In Europe we have this but of stone and it is so heavy, that i never get it out… In wood would help using it.

  7. Lori Lenzer says:

    I now make your recipe for fattoush salad (and dressing) almost weekly. My entire family enjoys it so much. I have also adopted the method you describe for making the garlic paste. The result is, as you promise, delicious! I have considered the fact that I need a special mortar strictly for use with the garlic. Now I’ll be on the lookout for something like this. Thanks so much for your site and all the incredible (and healthy!) recipes.

  8. Amanda Randolph says:

    Thank you for the giveaway Joumana.

  9. Marsha Estefan says:

    It looks like olive wood. I would love to own a piece of my parents homeland in this way!

  10. Dana says:

    What a gorgeous piece!

    (I’m sure after not too long it starts to smell great too!)

  11. Della says:

    Nice mortar. Just love the garlic paste. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Stamatia says:

    What a lovely mortar & pestle! I have a ceramic one but have never had much success with garlic in it – I think it’s too big for the pestle. I think having a wooden one like that that’s more reasonably sized and can be a bit rougher with (without fear of chipping it) dedicated solely to garlic would be wonderful.

  13. Christine T says:

    Wow… Never seen a garlic mortar and pestle like this ! I’ve just been chopping my garlic by knife or a garlic presser which squirts juice everywhere at times !

    Thank you for the giveaway : )

    A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to You and Family

    Christine T

  14. Kathy says:

    beautiful piece. I had a marble one but ex husband broke it when we split up. I would love this.

  15. Stephanie Kelley says:

    Learn something new everyday. Thanks for the post!

  16. Linda says:

    love it Joumana – I’ve done this and was so surprised that the addition of salt to the process really made a huge difference (didn’t know that before)

  17. Kalyn says:

    I have a regular mortar and pestle but I love this idea of one just used for garlic! Will look for it; we have several good middle eastern stores here.

  18. Kimberly McCary says:

    This is just what I have been looking for. Very good info!

  19. va says:

    looks wonderful , intl.
    tumblemumbo at

  20. Louise says:

    Garlic would have to be my most used flavouring in all my cooking, I love it! Have never used a pestle and mortar to crush it though, must give it a try! Love your posts ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. ciao chow linda says:

    I can see how this beautiful wooden implement would transform the garlic into a wonderfully fragrant ingredient.

  22. Kavey says:

    Aah yes, we learned in Lebanon the importance of garlic (and lemon, and olive oil) in so many dishes. And pounding properly, with salt, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. William Cummings says:

    What a beautiful addition to our kitchen this would be!

  24. Paula says:

    Okay, I need this. I found out it’s easiest to crush garlic using my marble mortar, but I don’t us the pestle. I use the bottom of the mortar against a wooden cutting board. WHAM! But this little gizmo would really help keep those slippery buggers from pinging out the side, onto the floor. And perhaps be a little more civilized. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Meg S says:

    I’ve never had garlic paste – yummy!

  26. Susan says:

    There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t add some garlic to our dinner ๐Ÿ™‚ I usually use a microplane to mince my garlic but I love the idea of a mortar and pistlel devoted to garlic alone!

  27. Terry says:

    Would love to have this wooden mortar & pestel when making your recipe for Winter Tabbouleh & Toom. Two of my favorites!

  28. Sarah G says:

    I didn’t know there was a mortar and pestle just for garlic! I’d love to have one of these. Interesting article.

  29. Rose Magpies Recipes says:

    That is such a beautiful mortar and pestle! I love garlic too! Always add double what most recipes call for ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. brian says:

    Can you make pesto in this too?

    • Joumana says:

      @Brian: I have never used it to make pesto; I am not sure the wood surface would be abrasive enough to purรฉe the basil (or other ) leaves; since in Lebanon pesto is made directly on the stove, I have not seen anybody use it for pesto.

      @Sweefling: How interesting! Never tried it this way; I will next time!

  31. Joseph says:

    Smashing garlic is my son’s (age 7) favorite part of lebanese cooking. Very primal feeling to use a mortar. Ours is ceramic, but the garlic slips off the pestle. I think a wooden one would solve this problem! Merry Christmas and thanks for your blog!

  32. Judi says:

    <3 Love garlic with everything ….mmmmm maybe not my morning cereal but almost everything ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. twbarritt says:

    I feel like I never quite get the garlic “right.” Either too mushy or not fine enough. Maybe I need to get back to basics with my tools!

  34. Carol Bronstein says:

    What a great idea, having a mortar & pestle dedicated to only garlic. And a lovely wood one – lightweight and a wonderful feeling to mash the garlic into it. Now I think I won’t be able to live without one. Hope I can find one here in New Mexico (unless, of course, you draw my entry as the winning one).

    Thanks for letting the world know about this so-helpful simple piece of kitchen equipment.

  35. mac says:

    Garlic is so interesting, in that it does take on different characteristics depending on how it’s treated .
    happy holidays,

  36. David says:

    I agree. This is the only way to add garlic to dishes. It just isn’t the same when chopped or pressed. Thank you for a great blog and have a Merry Christmas.

  37. Veronica says:

    My family is Puerto Rican and we crush a lot of garlic, but never mixed directly with salt into a paste. I’ll have to try it for the next sofrito. Thanks for the idea!

  38. Carolyn G says:

    What a fantastic kitchen tool. Thanks for the giveaway

  39. Susan says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year .

  40. sweffling says:

    I’ve never seen a wooden mortar and pestle before: our are pot or glass, or sometimes stone. All very heavy and fairly rough. But I love the idea of such an attractive wooden one and the aromas it must catch and hold. As to garlic, in our family whenever we are getting a sore throat we peel a whole clove and tuck it into our cheek, raw, for the day, with a new one for the night. This stops most colds and coughs dead:)

  41. Tim Vidra says:

    I have a stone mortar and pestle but not a wooden one. Would love the chance to try and use this! Cheers!

  42. Paula Mello says:

    I don’t know how to cook without garlic and onions!! I’d love to have one of these…

    I wish you a Merry XMas, full of peace and harmony to you and your family!!

  43. Allie says:

    Garlic is a staple in our kitchen too. Beautiful mortar and pestle!

  44. Theresa says:

    Crushing the garlic was my job too as a child. My mother still has the original wooden pestle that she bought with her when she came to Canada 47 years ago.

  45. Paige says:

    I need this!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. Kira says:

    Amazing mortar & pestle ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you for the giveway!

  47. Souzi says:

    Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

    I love love love your blog! Everyday, before I start work, I check out your blog and enjoy your posts!

    Keep up the good work and thank you!


  48. mindless says:

    Garlic is essence of life, I say ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Christine Poon says:

    Wow.. What a fantastic way to make garlic paste.

    Would love to win.

    Thank you

  50. rondah says:

    Great giveaway! Would love to have one of these!!

  51. Maureen says:

    What a great item. We add garlic to a lot of the recipes that we make in our house.

  52. Loretta says:

    A mortar and pestle just for garlic makes total sense! How often had I been assigned to garlic bread duty where I used to volunteer, and fallen asleep that night to with smell of garlic on my hands… Not a bad thing, actually ^_^

  53. Ed Habib says:

    Both my sons commented last week they are very happy to be home from school for the Holidays as the smell of garlic and onions gives them a very comforting feeling.
    Happy New Year All

  54. Radka says:

    This is something I definitely long for:)

  55. Christine Reilly says:

    Love love love to cook, and try new recipes all the time. Growing up, my mother was an amazingl Sicilian cook, and my Russian Grandmother made the most delicious food that I only have memories of. So sad that there were no written recipes left behind. I will never be able to duplicate her techniques. I cook with tons of garlic all the time, but have never used this method. Thank you for your blog..I have become very interested in Lebanese food since I found it. Everything on here sounds so delicious, and healthy. Thank you!

  56. Leigh says:

    I am in dallas! PICK ME! ๐Ÿ˜€

  57. Stephanie says:

    I am new to Beirut and am looking to fill out my kitchen, and a garlic grinder would be a welcome addition! Thanks!

  58. Nuts about food says:

    These are the kind of tips that can make a foreign cuisine (to us) taste truly authentic!

  59. Tim Helmer says:

    Thx for the tips…..must get a mortar bowl , or make one….cheers….here comes the shawarma !

  60. Amy Scott says:

    Would so love a mortar I could use for garlic only! Beautiful and useful. Thank you for your great recipes!!

  61. Melinda Fender says:

    I use garlic with a lot of my meals. I have been looking for the perfect wooden crusher for a long time. This one is awesome & would love to win!

  62. liz walter says:

    Here in the Sonora desert the natives us a mortar and pestle made of volcanic stone called a molcajete. I prefer the wood though, it is lighter to use.

  63. Margaret Bousamra says:

    The making of the Lebanese garlic sauce is a slow and fine art. I know people try to make a milder fluffy sauce in the food processors, however, it will never come close to the hand made version.

Add a Comment