I was recently told that eating garlic kept cold at bay. I have always known garlic was good for your gut but as to it's cold abating medical inclinations I was unaware. I may have to look into this before I promote the theory. Research opportunity for all of you who are that way inclined!
But I love garlic. I really do. People have accused me of using too much garlic when they see it going into recipes and yet when they taste the final dish, all criticism goes away. I've very rarely been able to pick out the taste of garlic in a dish (unless it's garlic bread or something with 'garlic' in the name), but it lends something to so many dishes. A sweetness and a heat and a herbaceous-ness all at the same time.
My favourite pasta dish, unsurprisingly, is spaghetti aglio, olio, peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli) because firstly, it's simple - it takes as long to make as the pasta takes to boil, and secondly, the main ingredient is garlic. I mean, what's not to love?! But clearly I don't eat it often enough because I'm now loaded with the cold. Luckily we don't go on holiday for another week because being sick on holiday is no picnic.
No prizes for guessing what food I'm looking forward to when we get to Abu Dhabi - shawarma. It's so hard to get a good shawarma here in the UK and it's even harder to make one. Unless of course you have a big pice of chicken on a stick and the ability to roast it vertically. I don't. I have tried a few times to make shawarma. I have spiced up the chicken but the texture and spice distribution is just so hard to achieve. One thing I can make though is thoom.
Thoom means garlic in Arabic. It is also the gorgeous garlic spread that Arabs have with anything that involves bread: shawarma, falafel, roast chicken... you name it. I obviously love it because it's garlic. Don't be fooled, this is not like aioli. It is aioli's much stronger distant cousin who will stop you getting kissed for days after if you have too much.
Thoom - Arabic Garlic Spread
2 large or 3 small bulbs of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
500ml olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Peel all of the garlic and briefly blitz it in a food processor. If you are like me and don't have a food processor, you can gently crush them in a pestle and mortar or use a stick blender (I went with the stick blender - saves on the washing up). Add the salt and egg white and blitz.
Then, keep the food processor on a slow speed and blitz continually while drizzling in the oil slowly. Keep going until all the garlic is pureed and all the oil is used up. Pour in the lemon juice while blitzing and stop when everything is combined.
Store the thoom in the fridge in an airtight jar for up to 2 months. Let it sit for about an hour before you use it. The garlic is a bit overpowering when you first blitz it.
Enjoy as a dip or spread - but enjoy.