Toum – Intense Mediterranean Garlic Dipping Sauce

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisine such as Greek, Lebanese, or Armenian cooking, chances are you’re very familiar with the almightily strong garlic dipping sauce. You know, it’s that super delicious and super garlicky stuff they serve next to the Shish Tawook aka Chicken Kabob and a slew of other faves. The recipe you see here is one I learned from my best friend’s mother who is of Greek and Armenian descent. This version calls for one head of roasted garlic, one head of raw garlic which gives the flavor a bit more depth although it’s still just as strong as the more common version which is made entirely of raw garlic.

1 cup safflower or sunflower oil, chilled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 heads garlic (recently bought, hard and white)
1/2 cup ice cold water, divided
juice of one lemon
Sea salt

Note: It’s important that the garlic you buy is very fresh, meaning it hasn’t had the chance to sprout. The sprouts that often grow inside the garlic are said to make this bitter. Look for the whitest, hardest bulbs you can find. Give them a good squeeze test and avoid any with scapes, since obviously, those are already sprouting.


Heat oven to 400°F. Slice the top off of the garlic, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Try to get the olive oil into the cloves and the area between the cloves. Wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. While you’re waiting on the roasted garlic, place one cup of safflower oil in the refrigerator to chill. A glass container such as a measuring cup is best for this. Also, get that water super ice cold.








To prepare the raw garlic, crack each clove with a mallet, pestle or stone. When you do this, the cloves will split. Remove shell and look for any sprouts. In my batch of hard, white garlic bulbs, I found only one. Extract.







Add raw garlic and a pinch of sea salt to your food processor or bullet. I opted for my bullet on this one since it works better for small batches. Pulse for a few seconds. Remove the roasted garlic cloves. Add to the mix with one more pinch of salt. Pulse to a count of ten. Now, slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon, begin adding the ice cold water and oil, alternating and pulsing between. Add one teaspoon of lemon juice at a time. This process requires patience. Depending on the garlic, the humidity, the salt and a whole host of other factors, you might not use up all of the oil and water. What you’re looking for is a creamy, white texture with plenty of zing. Just keep going. Once the desired texture is achieved, taste and stir in more oil and add additional salt and lemon as needed.


I ended up using nearly all of the water, all of the lemon juice but only 3/4 of the oil. I also used a fair bit of salt, I’d say nearly a full teaspoon to achieve the same texture and flavor I remember.

Want to make a double batch? Go ahead! This stuff freezes up great! To thaw, just place in your refrigerator the night before you’re going to use it.

Well until next time…

Happy Eating!

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