Garlic paste

December 18, 2008  •  Category: , ,

This is one of the essential items in Lebanese food. You can make it every week 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 toom is simple. There are several ways out there, so I am going to give you two methods. 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; my first method is the following

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1 1/2 cups water

1 head of garlic (10 cloves or more), cloves peeled and finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp lemon juice

  1. Mix the starch with water until smooth. Heat in a small saucepan while stirring until thickened.
  2. Place the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor. Process for a few minutes until mashed, adding the oil then lemon juice through the feed tube slowly. Add the cornstarch mixture and process until creamy and uniform. Store in the fridge for 3 days.

Method #2


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!

  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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