Lebanese garlic paste

Joined Aug 9, 2010
So my wife and I are officially addicted to this garlic paste served in a Lebanese restaurant near us. It is straight up fandamn-tastic! Just checking to see if anybody has an Idea of how to make it. Have tried to just puree garlic but its too strong, and the paste is clearly not fried or baked. Slightly thinner than hummus, and pure white. My wife is chiming in over my shoulder as I write that it could be steamed. Haven't tried that yet. Any other ideas? I hope it's not steamed would hate to admit she's right, again.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
It' should be very similar to the Greek sauce skordalia. Usually made with bread, sometimes almonds get mixed in too.
Joined Apr 16, 2010
Does it have oil in it?  I'm guessing its something similar to a traditional provence style aioli (no not mayo).  Usually you take fresh garlic cloves and mash them with a mortar and pestle and then very slowly add extra virgin olive oil while mashing.  Some styles use egg yolks, which make the emulsion easier to achieve.  You should get a light textured (somewhat airy) garlic emulsion that you can then season with salt.  Looks like this:

Joined Aug 25, 2009
Does this garlic paste have an oil base ? When I read that it was slightly thinner than hummus I gathered that it might be that. The reason why I ask is because what I make is similar to a clip ......well here it is : (beats explains the technique)


I make garlic paste (small batches with a bit of lemon juice) and keep it in the fridge.

just a thought.....
Joined Feb 13, 2008
With all respect to Sticky and Chef Petals, it's probably a variation on skordalia (h/t Phatch) rather than aioli.  Skordalia under several different names is common around the Eastern Med, and in Persian and Armenian cuisines too.

Here's how:

Put a cup of cooled, cooked, riced or mashed potatoes (a dry spud like a russet is best) in a bowl.  Alternatively, use a few slices of white bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed as dry as you can get them. Or, as another alternative, a mix of potatoes and bread works very well.

Use your chef's knife or a mortar and pestle to convert 8 garlic cloves into a paste.  Add them to the potatoes along with a teaspoon of salt (less whatever you used to make the paste), a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (such as corn) or extra virgin olive oil, the juice of a lemon.  Combine very well.  Taste for salt and acidity. 

If as is likely, it's both very lemony but not acid enough -- likely -- add some white vinegar. 

Allow the skordalia to set up for a couple of hours at least. 

Note 1:  Extra virgin olive oil will not only impart a distinctive taste, but a light yellow-green color as well.  If what you like is pure white, stick with vegetable oil. 

Note 2:  If you want an extremely smooth spread, use either potatoes or bread and potatoes rather than straight bread.  Contrariwise, all bread will impart a slight texture.   

Note 3 :  Be careful about overworking the potatoes.  Garlic won't prevent them from being overworked.  Overworked is not only paste, it's bad paste. 


PS.  You could do this as a straight emulstion without potatoes or bread, but it would take so much garlic to hold it together it would be very garlicky indeed.
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Joined Aug 2, 2010
The basic recipe when i looked on the internet is garlic, oil, salt, lemon with something to thicken it with.

The person in the video i was watching suggested using canola oil to make the garlic sauce whiter.

The thickeners i saw were either using a little bit of potato or more likely egg whites to change the texture closer to mayo.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Sounds to me like toum, a basic garlic sauce of Lebanon. If that's what it is it's actually more akin to aioli than to skordalia. Here's one version; but caution, it is very garlicy. I'd advise cutting the garlic in half the first time. Recipe comes from Hussien Dekmak's The Lebanese Cookbook:

2 garlic heads, cloves peeled

1 tsp salt

1 egg white

2 cups vegetable oil

Juice of 2 lemons (or more to taste)

Put the garlic and salt in a blender or food processor and whiz to a smooth paste. Add the egg white and whiz again until smooth. Witht eh motor running, very slowly pour in the vegetable oil in a constant, steady stream until all the oil is ued up and the sauce is the consistency and color of mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice and keep whizing until smooth. Taste and add more if necessary.
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Joined Aug 9, 2010
Thanks for the ideas. The paste I am talking about is very garlicky, (is that a word) so two heads of garlic peeled sounds about right, not sure if it is that lemony, but I will try it. It is slightly textured, so I guess I'll have to try both the toum and skordalia. Oh what a plight. Time to stock up on gum. Thanks guys

P.S. should I tell the wife I told you so? That's probably fodder for another forum huh?
Joined Jan 2, 2007
It sounds nice but what do you do with it? Flavour soups? A dip for pitta bread? Spread on Bruschetta?
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
>The paste I am talking about is very garlicky, (is that a word) so two heads of garlic peeled sounds about right, not sure if it is that lemony,<

Keep in mind that all of these types of things have household to household variations. So if it's too lemony, cut back. Etc. We are very big on garlic in this house but found two heads to be a bit much. Just saying.

BTW, there's a Turkish version that uses garlic and yogurt that looks and tastes similar.

Indianwells: Yes.

Plus use it to accompany falafel, and zucchini fritters, and atop chicken, and.......
Joined Apr 3, 2010
BDL and KY are both on the money. I do not use mortar and pestle.  I puree garlic in mini food processor in salad oil add lemon pinch salt. Then I mix it into potato. Depending on water content of potato I sometime add  soft breadcrumbs. I do not mix potato in processor as it will seize and turn to glue from the starch in potato. . This is basically Greek origin

. KY s version from what I could find out out from a Lebanese friend who asked his wife is the way she does it

Garlic paste  sold in tubes in store is very different usually contains corn syrup and modified food starches.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
should I tell the wife I told you so?

Not if you intend staying married. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif

The secret of a long, happy marraige: In any argument, if you are ever right, apologize immediately!
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Joined Apr 16, 2006
BDL - this skordalia is the garlic paste at Zankou Chicken? (SoCal reference)?

Nevermind, just looked it up myself:  yes it is, apparently.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Garlic paste  sold in tubes in store is very different .......

It occurs to me, Ed, that I've never seen garlic paste in tubes. What would it be used for? Especially with all that sweetener added?
Joined Aug 9, 2010
Made the scordalia and it's fantastic, albeit really strong I used a whole head of garlic. KY was right 2 would have been too much. But the vinegar recommendation was spot on. The wife made some veal shawarmas, used the scordalia w/ a little plain yogurt. good stuff. Now i just need to work on homemade pitas or soft lavash bread. The store bought stuff just isn't the same.

Thanks again
Joined Feb 1, 2007
FWIW, TBN, I had trouble making pita for years, using a variety of recipes. It just wouldn't work for me. Either the breads wouldn't puff, or some would and some wouldn't, or they became hard in the oven, or there was some other problem.

Then I tried the one in Jeffry Alford and Naomi Duguid's Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker's Atlas. Jackpot!

See if you can find a copy of it. If not, I'll try typing out the recipe for you, but it's rather long.

Their recipe, btw, is made with half white and half whole wheat flours, something I'd not seen before. They make reference, too, to the Egyption style, which, they say, is 100% whole wheat.

The soft lavish you buy in the supermarket stays that way because of additives. True lavash is only soft when it first comes out of the oven. As it cools it dries and turns cracker-like. In places like Armenia, they make loads of it that way, and store the dried bread, sprinkling it with water just before use to soften it. Unless you're really good with a rolling pin, lavash is a PITA to make, because it has to be rolled so thinly.
Joined Aug 18, 2007
Could be TOUM

Hussien Dekmak (Lebanese chef in London) has a recipe in his brilliant restaurant book. Its used as a marinade, but also a dip.

2 peeled garlic heads in a blender with 1 tsp salt.wizz to a puree. Add an egg white and wizz again

With the motor running, slowly pour in  1pint vegetable oil as with making mayonnaise. Should look just like a soft mayo

Add juiceof 2 lemons and wizz again

Its garlic dip heaven. We use it a lot You may have to balance the lemon/salt as with humus

OOPS    SORRY,I JUST REALISED IVE DUPLICATED KYH'S  POST.   Must pay attention. we do use 2 garlic head      never too much, but it is very nippy
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