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.
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves
- 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.