Made with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices, kachumber is the perfect salad or relish to serve with your Indian meal. Here I also share some amazing variations of this flavor packed recipe.
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Indian Cucumber Tomato Salad
There are not that many raw vegetable salads in traditional Indian cuisine. However, this amazing cucumber tomato salad, known as kachumber, and its many variations, makes up for it.
This staple salad is traditionally made without oil and the spices are what give it the remarkable Indian touch. Although it only needs a few basic ingredients, it is very much adaptable to suit most meals. Skip the chilies if you don’t like hot food.
Most Indian vegetarian recipes involve intensive cooking, so kachumber and its variations can add a nice freshness to the menu.
Fresh vegetables are the key to a best tasting kachumber.
- Onions: I prefer to use red onions or shallots.
- Tomatoes: Use a firm variety like Roma tomatoes.
- Cucumber: Persian or English cucumbers are the best. If using American cucumbers, be sure to scrub with a vegetable brush or peel it.
- Avocado: Choose firm and ripe avocados. Learn more about choosing vegetables.
- Chilies or Jalapeño: I use mild green chilies. Most Indian grocery stores have two kinds: small and hot; long and mild. Check the pungency before using. Remove seeds to lower the heat.
- Lemon Juice or Tamarind: You can soak dried tamarind and extract the juice. But readymade tamarind paste is easy to use and available at most super markets or ethnic grocery stores.
- Herbs: These should be super fresh.
Kachumber and Variations
Basic Kachumber Salad: This is made with cucumbers, tomato, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, green chilies, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
Variations of Two Kinds:
- Ingredient Variations
- Other vegetables: Avocados add a soft and creamy bite. Use pomegranates for a burst of sweetness and flavor. Carrots, bell peppers, beets or radish add a crunchy or firm bite. Add beets in the end and don’t stir too much to prevent colors from leaching into the salad.
- Dressing: Often I use lemon juice for the salad. But tamarind juice is a typical Indian variation that is perfect for the julienned salad (mentioned below). Add vinegar instead of lemon juice or along with it.
- Spices/Seasoning: Cayenne pepper or red chili powder and salt are used for a standard kachumber. But I like to add ground black pepper. Ground cumin powder is especially nice with the tamarind dressing.
- Seeds: Toasted sesame seeds for a nice flavor.
- Herbs: The basic version uses cilantro. But I love adding some mint, which takes it up a notch and works great with the spices. You can try chopped green onions or chives too.
- Oils: Not traditional, but you can drizzle some extra virgin olive oil or toasted sesame oil.
- Uncommon Ingredients: Black salt (kala namak), pink Himalayan salt, pinch of chaat masala, pinches of sugar or jaggery, fresh fruit such as watermelon or star fruit.
- Textural Variations: The salad experience can be completely different just with a simple change in the way we cut vegetables.
- Julienne: This is my favorite variation for kachumber. Try it with the tamarind dressing in the recipe below.
- Cubed or Large Dice: I like this for the avocado version.
- Finely Chopped or Small Dice: This is great for making it as a relish.
- Finely Shredded: For another relish type variation.
- Spiralizer: If you have a spiralizer use it to create different textures. Make an Indian salad with a fancy appearance!
How to Make Indian Kachumber
Brief overview below. *Full recipe at the end of blog post.
- Chop: Chop or cut all the vegetables and drain any juices.
- Season: Add herbs, lemon juice or tamarind, spices, salt and toss well.
- Choose fresh vegetables in season.
- Add freshly chopped herbs, lemon juice, spices and salt just before serving.
Drizzle with seasoned yogurt sauce for a variation.
How to Serve It
- Drain any juices released after adding the spices and salt.
- Serve it freshly made in a salad bowl.
What to Serve Along
You can use the variations in different ways.
- Serve it with lamb biryani, parathas and our daal.
- As a relish with sandwiches made with eggplant chickpea patties. Or make them burger style with round and big meat patties.
- It can be a side with lamb shawarma.
- And can be served with pita or tortilla chips like pico de gallo. Make sure to chop the vegetables fine.
This cucumber salad is best when served fresh. But you can scrub or rinse the vegetables ahead. Carrots, bell peppers, radish can be cut and refrigerated in advance. Separate the arils from pomegranate and keep it ready.
Storage and Leftovers
Kachumber does not last very well. At best, you can refrigerate it for a day or so. Drain any juices before using the leftovers.
This light and refreshing salad is vegan, vegetarian, low carb, gluten free, egg free, soy free, dairy free, nut free and grain Free. So it is allergy friendly.
Cucumbers are low in calories and carbohydrates. They are a good source of vitamin K, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. When possible, be sure to choose organic cucumbers, as they are part of the dirty dozen produce with high levels of pesticide residue.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and other phytonutrients. Herbs further enhance the nutrition potential of this healthy salad.
More Salad Recipes
★ DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? PLEASE COMMENT AND GIVE IT A STAR RATING BELOW!
Kachumber (Indian Cucumber Salad)
- 1 red onion medium or 2 shallots, peeled
- 2 roma tomatoes large
- 1 English cucumber organic or 4 Persian cucumbers
- 1 green chili or jalapeño, thinly sliced or chopped (remove seeds to lower heat)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice fresh
- ¼ teaspoon salt adjust per taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- Pomegranate Arils
- Bell Pepper
- Red Radish
- Fresh Mint
- Tamarind Paste see note for this variation
- Scrub and rinse all the vegetables and pat dry. Rinse herbs and spin in a salad spinner.
- Choose the style of cut for vegetables — large dice, small dice, julienne, shred or using a spiralizer. (Read blog post above for more information.) Maintain the same size and style for all vegetables.
- Cut all the onions, tomatoes and cucumber. Then transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Add the green chilies, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cumin.
- Toss well and adjust seasoning as per taste. Drain any juices released. Serve immediately.
- Choose very fresh vegetables.
- Tomatoes: Choose firm variety such as roma tomatoes.
- Cucumber: If using American cucumbers, be sure to peel them.
- Julienned Kachumber with Tamarind Paste: Combine 2 to 3 teaspoons of tamarind paste with equal amount of water and stir in the seasonings. Be sure to use cumin and mint with this version. Add julienned vegetables and toss well. Adjust seasoning, drain excess juices and serve.
- Tamarind: You can soak dried tamarind and extract the juice. But tamarind paste is easy to use and available at most super markets or ethnic grocery stores.
- Other Vegetables: Use avocados for a creamy bite; pomegranates for a burst of sweetness; carrots, bell peppers, beets or radish for a firm bite. Add cut beets in the end and don’t stir it too much to prevent colors leaching into the salad.
- Make Ahead: Scrub or rinse the vegetables ahead. Carrots, bell peppers, radish can be cut and refrigerated in advance. Separate pomegranate arils and have it ready.
- Storage and Leftovers: Kachumber does not last very well. At best, you can refrigerate it for a day or so. Drain any juices before using the leftovers.
- For more information on ingredients, variations and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.