The first time I heard of the word ‘Kachumbar’ was in first grade, in one of my art class. As proud as I was of the duck I drew, my art teacher was not the one to mince her words. “Yeh kya kachumbar bana diya”, she replied in Hindi and I immediately concurred from the sound of the word, more than her face, that she didn’t really approve of it.  

Over the years, I also grew up calling anything scrambled, chaotic disorganised- a big ‘kachumbar’, only to realise that in the world of food, the word may not have that bad a rep. ‘Kachumber’ is the name of our very own Indian salad made with an assortment of freshly chopped onions and tomatoes, drizzled over with lemon juice and a sprinkling of chaat masala. And on the occasion of World Environment Day, we are paying a tribute to this unsung hero of our desi platter. Call it a salad or a side dish, this salad helps undercut the ‘heaviness’ of the butter naan and malai koftas of the world with its refreshing, citrusy flavour, making the whole meal all the more balanced and palatable.  

What Is Kachumber Salad?

Of course, like most Indian dishes, there is no one standard recipe of this salad too, which is what makes this ‘chaotic mess’ so beautifully refreshing, vibrant and yummy all at once. Some like to add chopped onions to their ‘Kachumbar’, some go as far as to add some chopped coriander leaves and chillies too. This delish salad is usually always served with the main course, and nowadays in many restro bar and pubs, it is even served with heavy starters and platters such as cutlets, kebabs and samosas.  

Kachumber Salad V/s Mediterranean Fattoush 

In terms of composition and consistency, it is quite similar to many other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, such as the Fatoush, the chief ingredients of which are also tomatoes and cucumbers, albeit with a difference in variety. Cherry tomatoes and medium cucumbers are chopped up roughly and used in this cold salad. Other suspects include romaine lettuce, bell peppers, scallions, fresh mint. While the dressing typically comprises white vinegar, a free use of olive oil is also common.

The Kachumbar salad encompasses everyday Indian ingredients. In India, you do not find cherry tomatoes, so regular tomatoes bring in the much-needed punch, Lemon juice makes up for a perfect citrusy dressing (white vinegar, who?). And even though, we have an abundance of mint leaves, but since coriander is more easily available, coriander is mostly used to enliven the salad. Kachumbar is supposed to be a non-fussy, easy, everyday recipe. So there is absolutely no need to complicate the same. Take a large mixing bowl add the ingredients you have around and start chomping.  

And since the summer is upon us, your fridge is probably loaded with fresh cucumbers already? So what are you waiting for. Try this yummy recipe today.