If you accept that simple is sometimes best and clean, uncomplicated flavors can be awesome, then toum is the dish for you. Think of it as a Middle Eastern mayonnaise but without the eggs. Traditionally a Lebanese dish, it's packed with flavor and goes perfectly with everything from meat to falafel to bread. It contains only a handful of ingredients that are commonly found in every kitchen and it's quick and easy to make.
For a truly authentic preparation of Toum, a mortar and pestle is used. If a mortar and pestle are unavailable, ingredients can be blended using a food processor. When it comes together, it should be thick and creamy and is most often used as a dip for French fries, chicken and sandwich spreads.
Although the classic ingredients are garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, there is a popular variation that includes the addition of mint. Traditionally, toum would be made with a mortar and pestle but I find that a food processor or powerful blender creates a thicker, creamier consistency. Be warned, though, that this is a strongly flavored dip. Raw garlic has many purported health benefits and will probably also ward off vampires if that's of any concern. But you may also ward off any potential kisses after you've enjoyed this dip. My best advice would be to make sure both you and your date are eating it.
Next time you are looking for a unique dip that can be served with a variety of foods, Toum is the best dip to try. Try it with some favorite recipes of ours. They're often served with a tahini sauce but using the toum instead will make a nice and flavorful change:
- 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed)
- 1/4 cup of vegetable or olive oil (or less depending on garlic used)
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Start by crushing the garlic cloves until a smooth consistency.
Add salt and mix further.
Once the garlic and salt are of a desired, smooth consistency, gradually add in the oil.
Add the lemon juice and mix. The finished product should be smooth, paste-like, and creamy.
Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator.