Fresh and slightly acidic, this chopped tomato, cucumber and onion salad, or kachumber, is another common accompaniment to an Indian meal. I cannot recall not being served this at any of our family meals.

This simple version is a great way to restore the palate after eating something hot. It is also really good to cut through creamy dishes.

Kachumber is a Parsi recipe and the traditional accompaniment to dhansak. They probably inherited it from traditional Gujerati cuisine.

Every family have their own twist to this recipe –  kachumber is really just a salad of diced vegetables. You could substitute almost anything that was in season. You could, for example, add diced raw beetroot. Any vegetable you peel, and can eat raw is a candidate. But do remember that it always, always has onion and tomato.

For a hotter taste, add one finely chopped green chilli, that has been deseeded and the membrane removed. Or leave the seeds and membrane if you want the heat.

Add a quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds for a nutty taste. Or sprinkle with chaat masala.  Substitute apple for the cucumber, or use both. Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar for a quite different taste.  For an experienced palate, drizzle finished salad with a tablespoon of mustard oil.

You could even go over the top and do all the above.

One thing I have seen done, and have done myself on rare occasion is to thinly slice the vegetables and not dice them. You then present the dish as a set of stacks of alternating onion, tomato and cucumber. Served this way the presentation is quite special.

The recipe below is the simple, every-day version.

the recipe

prep 15 minutes
chill 1 hour
total 15 minutes
servings 4 servings
calories 36 kcal


to serve

  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves


  1. Combine onion, jaggery, salt, vinegar and coriander stalks in a sealed bowl and briskly shake to separate onion layers and coat with vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain excess vinegar.
  3. Add tomatoes and cucumber, stir gently, and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to serve.

  4. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve.
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