tomato, cucumber and onion salad

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

preparation:15 mins
chill:1 hr
total:15 mins
servings:4 servings
calories:36 kcal


to serve


  • 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.
  • Drain excess vinegar.
  • Add tomatoes and cucumber, stir gently, and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to serve.
  • Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve.
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