Probably the easiest and quickest salad I’ve fallen in love with is this easy Kachumber salad. It’s a classic, easy, crunchy, vegetable salad, that is VERY VERY hard to mess up. Imma gonna throw in some variations and pairings for you, just to show you how versatile this is.
To be honest, this is literally the ONLY salad in Pakistani and North Indian cuisine, that has a proper name and a dressing. Otherwise, growing up, for most of us, salad pretty much meant, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions on a plate.
What is Kachumber Salad?
The word Kachumber, (pronounced as Ka-choo-mer), means “pounded” or grounded. As the name suggests, common vegetables like onions, tomato, and cucumber are chopped up and tossed together to create this salad. This is literally the only salad that has an actual name in the Pakistani and North Indian cuisine. Otherwise, salads per se don’t really exist, and the vegetables are usually just eaten in “bhujia” or dry curry form, like the lauki ki bhujia “bottle gourd curry”.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Every family has their own favorite veggies and their own preferred dressing for this salad. I’m going to put up the one most commonly eaten in restaurants and at home.
- Cucumbers – This is the essential of a kachumber salad, which is sometimes also called the “cucumber salad”. You can peel the cucumber or leave it on for crunch. I personally prefer leaving it on, and only peel if my cucumbers are extra bitter.
- Onions – I use red onions because I like how they taste. You can use shallots or yellow onions too.
- Tomato – You need firm, juicy, ripe tomatoes for this recipe to make sure that they don’t squish when being chopped finely. Use any tomato you have at hand, as long as they are juicy and red.
- Seasoning – This recipe uses a very basic, lemon, salt, and pepper seasoning. But I am going to give you some fun add-ons at the end if you feel like spicing things up!
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities
Variations and Add-ons
This is the fun part, where you take an average Joe (not the serial killer kind) (shoutout YOU fans) and make it your own.
- Make it Spicy
Pack your salad with heat by adding just a dash of cayenne pepper powder or sliced up Thai chilies.
- Add more vegetables
Add any favorite or seasonal vegetable to this salad. My personal favorite add-ons are carrots, radishes, and sometimes bell peppers.
- Flavor enhancers
For a fancier salad dressing, try adding chaat masala, which is a very popular spice mix to add to this salad. Or try roasted cumin seed powder or a pinch of garam masala powder. They all add warmth and subtle heat to the dish. I love adding dahi bara masala to my kachumber sometimes. You can also try adding a small clove of finely chopped garlic.
- For Crunch
Although the vegetables add the perfect crunch to this recipe, try topping it off with crispy pappar, crushed chips or peanuts.
- Fruit and Carbs
Kachumber Salad with Mango and/or pomegranate are apparently popular add on in a lot of restaurants during summers. I haven’t been daring enough to try it, but maybe you can. Chickpeas is another favorite to add to your kachumber. My recommendation would be to add chickpeas and chaat masala together for a perfect hearty snack.
- Kachumber Salad with Yogurt
For recipes like tahiri or biryani, it is common practice to make a kachumbar raita, where this salad is mixed with beaten yogurt to make a sort of loaded raita.
Ofcourse, the best kachumbar salad version for you, is the one that your palate eventually falls in love with.
How to make Kachumber Salad
The only real skill you need for this salad is, your chopping. And honestly you can bypass that too, if you have a hand chopper, like this Easy Pull Food Chopper and Manual Food Processor. There is no right or wrong way to chop this salad, go with whatever size and shape you prefer.
STEP 1 – Chop up all the vegetables by a knife or a chopper
STEP 2 – Toss all the vegetables in a bowl
STEP 3 – Prepare the seasoning seperately
STEP 4 – Pour the seasoning all over the salad and mix.
Only add the dressing to the vegetables when you are ready to eat. The salt releases water from the vegetables and you’ll get a lot of liquid floating at the base of your salad if you let the dressing sit in the salad for hours.
Yes! Make the salad as fancy or as minimal as you like. Most crunchy vegetables will work nicely, like carrots, radishes. Look into the variations section above to get more ideas.
If you don’t add the dressing, the chopped vegetables will stay fresh in the fridge for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container. After that, the onions become pungent.
Add grilled fish, chicken or steaks and turn this salad into a beautiful easy dinner.
What to Serve with Kachumber Salad
Oh, everything! It literally goes well with everything I kid you not. But fine, I’ll give you some sweet pairing option
- Fried fish, daal chawal (lentil rice)
- On the side of a pulao and a kebab like the chicken cheddar kebab
- Served with freshly grilled chicken tikka
- Of course, who can forget, A classic chicken biryani
- Honestly, I enjoy it as a dip for my tortilla chips, when I am watching my calories
More Salad Recipes
I love pairing these salads with my mains. See for yourself
Do you have any questions? I’m happy to help! And of course, If you try this recipe, I’d loveeeee to see it or simply hear about it! Hit me up in the comment section below and I’ll get back to asap! Happy Cooking!
- 1 medium red onion or any onion you prefer
- 1 small tomato
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 2 to 3 fresh salad leaves of your choice optional
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- Finely dice all the vegetables and salad leaves into around 1/4th cubes
- Toss the chopped vegetables into a bowl and mix well.
- Prepare the salad dressing by combining the salt, black pepper and lemon juice.
- Pour the salad dressing over the vegetables and mix. Serve immediately. To serve later, keep the salad dressing seperate, and only pour when ready to serve.
- The cucumbers can be used peeled or unpeeled, based on your preference. But I’d recommend to peel the cucumbers if they are bitter.
- Your chopping can be done with a knife or a simple hand chopper
- Do not add the dressing to your salad if you aren’t ready to eat. Keep the dressing separately, if you are preparing the salad hours before having it.
Variations and ad-ons
- Spices – Just a dash of cayenne pepper powder or sliced-up thai chilies to pack heat.
- Other vegetables and fruits – Any seasonal or favorite produce. Popular options include carrots, radishes, bell peppers, mango and pomegranates.
- Flavor enhancers – Chaat masala, garam masala powder, or roasted cumin seed powder. Minced chopped garlic
- For Crunch – pappar, crushed chips, or peanuts.