Lebanese Garlic Sauce
One of my first eating experiences in Dallas, Texas was at a very small restaurant named Ali Baba’s. It was a very small establishment, and I have written about it a couple of times on my site (here and here). This place probably sat twenty people, with a small bar in the front, and a kitchen in the rear. In my opinion, it was a perfect restaurant, and there were always people lined up at the door. This is always a good sign.
There was something about this place. You would have though it was the elderly lady cooking in the back, the tables packed with happy people, the wonderful menu, but in my opinion, it was this garlic sauce with roasted chicken that was to die for. As my friends and I ate there often, whether for lunch, or dinner, we would always walk out with this wonderful, intense, garlic taste in our mouth, and only to find out that we would smell like it the next day! It was strong, and that was the beauty about this sauce. Pure, wonderful, spicy garlic flavor with a texture that was unknown to me, well, at least until last week.
I tried to recreate this sauce a couple of times and have failed, and in all honesty, it bugged me a bit. However, this past Memorial Day weekend, I met one a guest at a party we went to, and he was Middle Eastern. As we introduced ourselves, and realizing he was Middle Eastern, I immediately asked him what his favorite food was. Call me a geek, but I do that often. I am curious as to what people are eating. After he stated the usual suspects, I asked him if he knew what this garlic sauce was, and what it included in terms of ingredients. He stated, with slow thoughts, ‘lots of garlic, yogurt, potato…”. That was it! The potato! Something I was missing, and that texture that I often questioned. The next day, well, it was my take on the Lebanese garlic sauce. Let’s get started.
- 1 head of garlic, mashed into a paste (use half of a head or a few cloves to reduce the spice)
- 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp of Mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled, cubed
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
Begin by breaking down your garlic. This is the only time intensive part. I like to place the whole head of garlic on the cutting board, and press down on the base. This easily separates all of the cloves. Whack each clove with the back of your knife, and remove the skins.
Add your potatoes to a small pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, roughly 15 minutes. During this time, cut up your garlic, and keep cutting, until you have made a paste. Add a bit of salt during the process to help make the paste. It takes time, but it is important that you keep using your knife to get it to a paste, almost the texture of a mashed potato.
When the potato is tender, strain, and return them back to the stove, cooking on medium heat until all of the moisture is cooked out of the potato. Set aside, and let cool.
Once they are cooled, add them to a small bowl, along with the garlic paste, and mash them together with two forks. You now want a mashed potato looking mixture, all around. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
Trust me, this is the real deal. A killer sauce that goes great with grilled chicken, or most grilled meats. A little bit goes a long way! Serve at room temperature with warm pita bread, basmati rice, and some great chicken, and your world will never be the same. Enjoy.