Recipe: Kiss your Mother Garlic-lemon Sauce (Toum)

Adding a handful of spices to a pot of sauce can be cause to say “Bam.”

Or so I’ve heard.

But how about making sauce with an entire head garlic?

Raw garlic?

Raw garlic with nothing but a heap of lemon juice and olive oil to thin it out? They do it in Lebanon. And it’s fabulous.

Just one thing …

No one will ever kiss you again. Except your mother.


NOTE: Use sparingly. Especially on hot days, when your pores are likely to sweat out the scent of this intense pasta sauce.

Makes 1/2 cup


The cloves from 1 head garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon, juiced)
1 tsp salt

Serve over Maakroun, Mountain Gnocchi


First, you have to get the garlic started. You can crush it with a garlic crusher, or chop, chop, chop it, or pound it with some salt with a mortar and pestle.

In fact, if you’re really good, you can make this entire sauce in a mortar and pestle. I’m not though…

Once you have a rough paste formed…
Add to a small processor with olive oil and lemon juice.

Puree until perfectly smooth.Serve on top of pasta,such as this batch of Lebanese Maakroun.

Now, go lock yourself in a castle and enjoy your garlic breath!

It’s worth it.

Moussa's castle near Beiteddine, Lebanon. Photo by Peripitus.

Have a happy day!

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  1. Jessica Bennett says:

    That looks and sounds so good!

  2. aunty eileen says:

    yum… looks delicious and I am also now thinking could make a nice
    marinade for small chicken legs. yum yum… always nice to have
    already cooked chicken legs in frig for a little cold snack…
    Could use less garlic and I would put pepper also for the chicken marinade.

  3. Yesssssss! It sounds GREAT!!! one of the advantages of being single…who cares what my breath smells like? ;-) There’s always Listerine anyway.

  4. My favorite Lebanese restaurant serves this sauce over stuffed grape leaves. It’s so worth the garlic breath.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Oh, that sounds delicious. Stuffed grape leaves are one of my favorite recipes. I could eat a whole batch by myself.

  5. Ricardo Ramirez Saad says:

    Hi. WOW this is amazing!! It actually exists!!! My extended family mothers side is from Lebanon, where? no idea! But recipes have lived on in my family like this one of Maakroun. I really never enjoyed it because they were making it with only Garlic and Olive Oil. The taste was too strong and the smell !!! After long research of the beloved dish by my family I found your post, its exactly how our great grand father made it, except they always skip the Lemon. I have emailed the toum recipe to all my relatives I’m pretty sure its going to be a hit.

    In the Saad family Maakroun is an excuse to gather everyone to make little “mountain Gnocchi’s” as you called it. Normally when its raining or some family event maakroun always available.

    Thanks for the post, know I have to excuse myself with most of my relatives because I said this dish doesn’t exist. It was an invention of our grandparents in time of crisis.


    • Jessica Bennett says:

      I love stories like this. Thank you for sharing about your search for this recipe.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      How awesome, Ricardo. I really enjoyed reading your story as well. The taste and smell is definitely strong, but I love it, personally :) Cheers and kind regards to your family.


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