I am a sucker for a chopped summer salad. Since I am inherently lazy, any salad I can make and eat for several days makes me very happy. The Indian continent has kachumber / kuchumber, which may or may not be brightened up with a bit of tomato. Peanuts are optional too, but I say yes to their earthy crunch. A simple summer cucumber and tomato side dish is popular in many countries. The Greeks make their cucumber and tomato salad with an olive twist. Oregano and red onion enliven the Italian version of this salad, and parsley is the herbal note for the Middle East. The East African version goes with some grated carrot and cilantro and possibly some chilies. And the Russians must have their dill. Pull from any or all of these traditions and make this salad your own.
A no-oil dressing
The dressing for Indian kachumber contains no oil but may have some gratings of carrot or finely diced radishes. I can’t abide raw onions, so I like to marinate sliced or diced onions in apple cider vinegar before incorporating them into a dish. A fifteen to thirty-minute soak mellows out the raw heat but only do this extra step if your taste buds require it. I love mint, so I’ve added a bit here, but you can swap it out for cilantro or even parsley, or skip an herb altogether.
This salad is primarily made at home and adds a cooling freshness and crunch to anything you are serving, but is an especially welcome side to a masala (curry). My preferred cucumber is the small sweet Persian kind, but I can’t always find them. An English cucumber works just as well, and different colored cherry tomatoes would offer up some eye candy. The pretty cucumber I show in the photo for this recipe was a farmers' market find. As for peanuts, my favorites are the American Southern blistered peanuts, though Spanish peanuts are most like the peanuts used in India. I say, use what you got!
See Notes below before you cook.
Indian Cucumber Salad (Kachumber)
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts ~ Coarsely chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes ~ Finely chopped
- 2 cups cucumber ~ Chopped, peeled if you prefer
- 2 tablespoons red onion ~ Finely slivered or chopped
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, optional ~ Only if marinating the onion
- 1 small Indian green chilies ~ About 1/2 teaspoon, finely chopped & deseeded; substitutions
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch Kashmiri ground red chili ~ Substitutions
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chaat masala ~ Or another teaspoon or 2 of lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Substitutions
- If you don’t eat onion or garlic, just skip the onion for my version of Indian cucumber salad.