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Garlic Sandwich

a sandwich on a plate

Photo: Ajna Jai / Contributor 

I inherited my love of condiments; chutneys, pickles, salsas, and such from my mother. At any given time, she had about ten to fifteen homemade condiments lining a shelf in her kitchen. Carrots and turnips fermenting in a mustard broth, salted green mangoes curing in the sun, or chilies in oil stuffed with tangy pickling masalas. While I am not quite as elaborate as my mother, I also have a rotating selection of 4 to 5 homemade condiments like cilantro chutney, mango pickle or salsa verde. However, a few months ago, I encountered a Middle Eastern garlic condiment called toum that I fell head over heels in love with. A condiment as old as the Ottoman empire, I’d had it before smeared in a shawarma however, this version was airy, fluffy, creamy, and perfectly balanced. Made by a Palestinian couple Sabrina and Ziad Taha and sold at the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market, I could not get enough of it. I temporarily cast all my other condiments aside and ate the toum almost three times a day, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With scrambled eggs and toast, or as a dip for raw or roasted carrots, on a cracker with almond butter, or just straight out of the jar! While I have not attempted to make toum yet, I know that it’s made with four simple ingredients: garlic, lemon juice, salt, and oil. While talking with Ziad, I learnt that he was born and raised in Palestine, then came to Houston in the early 2000’s after living as a refugee in Jordan for over ten years. Since his mother passed away a few years ago, he vowed to keep her spirit alive by cooking the traditional foods of Palestine and this is how I discovered his table at the market. Here, I bring you a simple vegetable sandwich brought alive by the garlicky toum. While I love the traditional mayonnaise and cheese on sandwiches, with this garlicky spread, I missed neither. Do give it a try or at the very least, go buy the delicious Taha Toum at the farmers market or at Central Market, where it is now sold as well. I know my refrigerator will never be without it and when you taste it, you will understand why!

Read More  |  Recipe: India1948