Toum or Garlic Sauce is one of the most important sauces/dips in Mediterranean, and specifically Lebanese, cuisine. Like Spanish or Italian aioli but with a lot more bite, this sauce is the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes, but especially grilled chicken like shawarma or kebab.
It is incredibly garlic forward, and will absolutely stay with you for hours. But if you’re fine with smelling like vampire repellant for a while, the flavors this sauce imparts are breathtaking, in large part to the spiciness from the raw garlic.
While most aiolis rely on egg products, whether whole or just yolks to help build the emulsion, toum is traditionally made from oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
Throughout my testing, I’ve found that using a small amount of the water found in canned chickpeas you can help create a much more stable emulsion, while still keeping the dish vegan. This opaque, slightly earthy liquid is filled with long-chain starches that mimic the qualities of eggs added to mayonnaise or aioli.
Try experimenting with different extra virgin olive oils whenever you make this recipe and choose which one works best for you. I love to use a medium to full-bodied, spice-forward olive oil because I think it stands up well against the pungent garlic and lemon flavors, but I’ve always found that a lighter, delicate oil makes a slightly less bitter sauce that is great for fish or veggies.