There are many versions of this salad, from the Middle East to Southern Asia. But the formula is standard: finely chopped onion, cucumber and tomato with different herbs and spices. Reem Kassis’s Palestinian Table’s Palestinian Salad includes tomatoes, cucumber chillies, lemons, olive oil and a generous four tablespoons of mint.😁
The classic Indian Kachumber salad includes cumin and fresh coriander drizzled with plenty of lemon juice.
Kachumber is, of course, delicious in the summer. However, it comes into its own during the Autumn and Spring when the tomatoes and cucumbers are not at their ripest. Right now, heading toward the winter, the lemons are🍋. The mint and especially the cumin bring out the flavour of the vegetables even when they are not at their tastiest.😁
Salad Ingredients and Variables
This summer, we had great fun with this salad, swapping tomatoes for peaches and adding pomegranate seeds or chopped preserved lemons. It’s so versatile. Delicious in sandwiches and an excellent accompaniment to any curry or meat dish.
Ideally, make kachumber in advance and leave it to marinade in the fridge before serving. Add the oil, lemon juice and salt just before you serve. Adding salt or lemon too far in advance will encourage the tomatoes to become watery. It is particularly delicious with rice or any dal recipe and is a fabulous side salad for grilled lamb chops or just about any grilled fish.
Experiment with your recipe. Feel free to change the ingredients according to the season—spring onions in the Spring or red/yellow onions in the Autumn. Peaches in the summer etc.
I first came across Kachumber salad a long time ago …. probably around 1994. It was featured in Rick Stein’s, Taste of the Sea book under basic recipes😁. His recipe features only tomatoes, vinegar, cumin, cayenne powder and fresh coriander. Particularly good with fish – his tandoori monkfish, I believe.😉
More salads here
- 4 large tomatoes
- 1 large cucumber – peeled and de-seed if you prefer It can make the salad too watery if the cucumber has too many seeds.
- ¼ preserved lemon, diced into cubes
- 1 onion (red or yellow)
- 1 bunch chopped fresh mint leaves (3 tbsp)
- ½-1 small banana chilli – finely sliced
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- small bunch fresh coriander (1 tbsp)
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- freshly ground black pepper optional
- Chop all the tomatoes and cucumbers into small cubes and put them into a large salad bowl
- Chop the onion very finely. Add the sliced chillies and preserved lemon.
- Sprinkle over the ground cumin, mint and half the coriander. Toss lightly.
- If not serving straight away – cover and leave in the fridge.
- When you are ready to serve, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil and lemon juice. Use less oil, lemon and salt. Taste and add to your liking. We have it drowning in olive oil, but not to everyone's liking! Toss lightly and garnish with the rest of the coriander.
- Swap fresh chillies for chilli powder or add both!
- Swap nectarines or peaches for tomatoes.
- Use fresh basil or parsley as alternatives for coriander and mint.
- Replace onions with spring onions.
- Go for only tomatoes 'a la Rick Stein' and replace lemon juice with white wine vinegar.
- Replace the preserved lemons with fresh unwaxed lemons. Slice very thinly and cut into strips – you can remove the rind or leave it on.
- Replace lemon with lime juice or white wine vinegar.