Recipe Corner: How to make Garlic Paste (Toum) by Chef Kamal Al-Faqih


In 1986, Chef Kamal Al Faqih made his debut as the owner and head chef of Med Catering, Inc., the first exclusively Mediterranean catering company in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.  Born in the United States, Chef Kamal grew up watching his mother and aunts prepare traditional regional dishes, providing him a natural authenticity and palate for Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine.  He has catered events at the Smithsonian Museums, the White House, and at numerous private homes, hosting such notables as Queen Noor of Jordan and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.  He led cooking demonstrations at the Middle East Institute and Georgetown University, and continues to present in Southern California and on YouTube. Chef Kamal is one of 39 Arab Americans featured in the PBS series, Arab American Stories.

His celebrated cookbook, Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites (2009), combines tradition with innovation.  Here is Chef Kamal’s prized Garlic Paste, or Toum, a bold, creamy garlic spread.



1 cup fresh garlic cloves

4 cups canola oil (or corn or vegetable oil)

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1/2 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt

Makes 2 cups.



Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until it is finely minced, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl between pulses.

In a very thin, slow stream that is so slow it stops to a dribble at times, pour about 1/2 cup of oil into the running processor with the garlic.

Then add slowly add about two teaspoons of lemon juice while the processor is running.  Turn off the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue in this manner, alternating oil and lemon juice in very slow, steady streams and stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl. The mixture will turn fluffy and white.

Scrape into a bowl or container with an airtight lid, but don’t put the lid on yet.  Cover toum with a paper towel and refrigerate for about 12 hours, chilling the sauce completely and removing some of the moisture which would cause the toum to separate if covered immediately with the airtight lid.  Then cover with the airtight lid and refrigerate for up to one month. If your toum tastes too ‘hot’ from the garlic, let it rest for a few days in the refrigerator, which will soften the flavor.

Serve toum as a sauce or dip with grilled meat, shish kebobs, grilled vegetables or warm pita bread or lavash.  Because this sauce is all about the garlic, avoid pre-peeled cloves, and always stick with fresh heads for the best flavor. For this video, go to:


ORDER TODAY: Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh And Healthy Mediterranean Favorites, Hardcover – September 1, 2009 by Kamal Al-Faqih.

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