Sweet-tangy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers and piquant onions form the basis of this simple Kachumber salad recipe that goes well with almost any Indian dish. If you love having some fresh, raw veggies with your meals, try this easy and delicious Indian staple!
Table of Contents
What does Kachumber mean
Kachumber is a super easy, simple, zesty, fresh and colorful Indian salad containing a mix of onions, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro or mint, green chillies and a few spices brought together with a tangy lemon juice.
One of the great joys of kachumber is that it is made without any dressing and there is no oil or fat included in this salad. The seasonings, herbs and spices are simply mixed with the veggies.
In fact, I often refer to kachumber as sort of an Indian pico de gallo! It adds a nice bit of crunch and acidity to balance out the rest of your meal.
Another thing I love about this vibrant salad is how adaptable it is to your own tastes. The essential trio of onions, cucumber and tomatoes is always used, but you can always add more veggies to your kachumber salad.
I sometime toss in some grated or finely chopped carrots, grated beets, shredded white radish, blanched shredded cabbage or blanched green beans, corn or peas for extra pops of color and nutrition.
We also love using raw green chiles in our kachumber for a bit of heat, but if you prefer more mild foods, you can easily omit them.
About This Classic Indian Salad
I often mention kachumber in most of my Indian recipes I post, but realized that I never actually wrote a post about this awesome Indian salad.
Back in the day when extended families lived together, it was the norm to have a complete meal including rice, Roti (Chapati), a salad (like this kachumber), sautéed or stir-fried Vegetable Recipes, Dal, Curd, Pickle and Chutney.
Since most of us now live with just our nuclear family, we don’t often have time to make such elaborate, well-rounded meals.
While I have always loved eating raw veggies, this past year has brought the importance of maintaining a healthy diet into the limelight for many.
Eating raw vegetables can not only give you increased energy, improved skin texture, and better digestion, it can also help you ward off cardiovascular disease.
How to Make Kachumber Salad
1. In a mixing bowl, add ⅓ cup chopped onions, ½ cup chopped tomatoes and ½ cup chopped cucumbers.
Tip: If your cucumbers are bitter, rub some salt in them in a separate bowl and set aside for 15 minutes. Later squeeze the chopped cucumber using a clean muslin or cheese cloth or with your palms to remove the bitter juices. Set the cucumber aside.
Note that the salt will be absorbed by the cucumber, so add less salt when making the salad.
Tip: To make your onions less pungent, soak halved onions in water for 15 minutes. Drain the water when ready. Set aside.
2. Add ¼ cup chopped coriander (a.k.a. fresh cilantro) leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves and ½ to 1 teaspoon chopped green chillies (approximately 1 small green chili).
Tip: Feel free to swap in ½ teaspoon chopped serrano or jalapeño pepper in place of green chilies.
Tip: Don’t love coriander? Swap it for parsley instead.
3. Add ¼ teaspoon red chili powder, cayenne or sweet paprika, ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder or ground cumin and 2 to 3 pinches black salt (optional). Season with regular table salt or pink salt as needed.
Tip: While it is not traditional, one variation is to add crushed black pepper instead of red chili powder.
4. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice. I find 2 teaspoons of lemon juice perfect for my taste, but you can add less or more of it.
5. Mix the salad ingredients really well.
6. Check taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. Serve straightaway. Enjoy!
What to serve Kachumber with
Kachumber pairs well with any Indian meal. It brings in a lot of freshness not only to your meal but also to your palate and you will definitely enjoy eating it.
Consider serving kachumber salad with some lentils and rice/roti, a vegetable pulao, any Indian vegetarian curry or gravy with bread/rice/naan.
Kachumber tastes best when eaten as soon as it is made. If you keep it sitting for a few hours, it becomes slightly watery as a result of the vegetables leaving their juices when mixed with salt.
If at all you have any leftovers, keep in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and try to eat it on the same day.
- Vegetable variations: You can choose to add any delicious, crunchy veggies you like. Grated or finely chopped carrots or grated radish, blanched cabbage, blanched or boiled peas, steamed corn or blanched green beans are some of my favorites. I suggest to grate or shred veggies like carrots, radish, cabbage and beets. You also have the option to steam carrot and beets. I also recommend to blanch cabbage.
- Spice variations: As a replacement for red chilli powder or cayenne, add some freshly cracked black pepper. You can also add a few pinches of ground turmeric.
- Add ins: If you prefer some nuts in your kachumber salad, include some roasted peanuts or sesame seeds. Roasted peanuts add a good crunchy texture and taste to the salad. I also add seeds like roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed meal and nutritional yeast to boost the nutritive factors of the salad.
- Make ahead: If you plan to make ahead this salad, chop the veggies except the onions and herbs in advance and keep them in the refrigerator without adding the lemon juice or salt for a few hours.
- Scaling: You can easily make a big batch of this Indian kachumber salad recipe for pot-lucks or small parties.
It is best to serve kachumber immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge and consume the same day. The veggies leave their juices after mixing with salt and so the flavors get diluted.
I also do not suggest keeping chopped onions in your refrigerator for a long time, as they will lose their flavor.
That said, if you need to get ahead with your meal prep, feel free to chop the veggies except the herbs and onions in advance and keep them in the refrigerator without adding the lemon juice or salt. They should stay well in the refrigerator for a few hours.
While cucumbers, tomatoes and onions are non-negotiable ingredients, you can feel free to add any delicious, crunchy veggies you like!
Grated or finely chopped carrots or radish, blanched cabbage, blanched or boiled peas, steamed corn or blanched green beans are some of my favorites. I recommend to grate or shred veggies like carrots, radish, cabbage and beets.
This salad is one of my favorites for a reason. It goes with just about ANY Indian dish, from curries to biryani, chana masala to pav bhaji.
Think of it like the Indian version of Pico de Gallo – it is the perfect fresh accompaniment to any meal!
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Kachumber Salad Recipe (Zesty Indian Salad)
- ⅓ cup onions – chopped, or 1 small to medium onion
- ½ cup tomatoes – chopped or 1 medium tomato
- ½ cup cucumber – peeled and chopped, or 1 small to medium-sized cucumber
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves – chopped
- ¼ cup coriander leaves chopped , (cilantro)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice or as needed
- ½ to 1 teaspoon green chilies – chopped or ½ teaspoon chopped serrano or jalapeno – optional
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder or ground cumin
- 2 to 3 pinches black salt – optional
- salt or food grade, edible rock salt or pink salt as required
- 2 to 3 lemon wedges – for garnish, optional
- 4 to 5 mint leaves sprigs – for garnish, optional
- Rinse, pat dry, peel, and chop the cucumber. Rinse, wipe dry and chop tomatoes. Peel onions and rinse them.
- Chop the veggies including green chillies if using.
- Rinse the coriander and mint leaves very well. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or dry the herbs in a salad spinner.
Make Kachumber salad
- Transfer the chopped veggies in a bowl.
- Add the chopped green chillies, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder or ground cumin.
- Add coriander leaves and mint leaves. Sprinkle with black salt if using and regular white salt or pink salt.
- Drizzle lemon juice.
- Mix and toss the salad well so that the ingredients are mixed evenly.
- Check the seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice, according to your preferences.
- Serve the kachumber salad straightaway.
- Kachumber pairs well with any Indian meal. It brings in a lot of freshness not only to your meal but also to your palate and you will definitely enjoy eating it.
- Serve kachumber salad with some lentils and rice or roti, a vegetable pulao, any Indian vegetarian curry or gravy paired with bread or rice or naan.
- Kachumber tastes best when eaten as soon as it is made. If you keep it sitting for few hours, it becomes slightly watery due to the vegetables leaving their juices when mixed with salt.
- If at all you have any leftovers, keep in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and try to eat it on the same day.
- Veggie variations: Add any delicious, crunchy veggies you like. Grated or finely chopped carrots or grated radish, blanched cabbage, blanched or boiled peas, steamed corn or blanched green beans are some of my favorites. I recommend to grate or shred veggies like carrots, radish, cabbage and beets. I also suggest to blanch cabbage.
- Spice variations: Include some freshly cracked black pepper in place of red chilli powder. You can also add a few pinches of ground turmeric.
- Add ins: If you fancy some nuts, add in some roasted peanuts or sesame seeds. Roasted peanuts bring in good crunchy texture and taste to the salad. I also add seeds like roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed meal and nutritional yeast to make the salad more healthy.
- Make ahead: If you need to get ahead with your meal prep, feel free to chop the veggies in advance except the onions, herbs and keep them in the refrigerator without adding the lemon juice or salt. They should stay well in the refrigerator for a few hours.
- Scaling: You could easily make a big batch of this recipe for pot-lucks or small parties.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Kachumber Salad recipe from archives first published in April 2013 has been updated and republished on January 2023.