If you are looking for an Indian side dish that's simple yet brimming with flavours, our Indian Onion Salad recipe is perfect.
Also known as kachumber salad, it contains crunchy red onions, juicy tomatoes, and crisp cucumbers, all harmonized by the citrusy tang of fresh lemon juice and the aromatic whisper of coriander leaves. Often found in Indian restaurants served with poppadums.
This salad isn't just a side dish—it's a versatile meal companion that enhances every bite, especially if you dare to add a green chilli for an extra spice kick. Intrigued? Stick with us as we delve deeper into the magic of this vibrant dish.
How to make Indian Onion Salad
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Each ingredient in the Indian Onion Salad recipe is carefully chosen to give flavour and texture. Here's a breakdown of the key players in this dish. Be sure to cut all the salad items into even size pieces.
Red onions are the star of this salad. Their slightly sweet, sharp flavour forms the backbone of the salad, providing a robust base for the other ingredients to shine.
You can certainly experiment with other types of sweet onions in this salad. Consider trying sweet Vidalia onions, shallots, or spring onions, as these varieties have a milder flavour when consumed raw.
Tomatoes add freshness and a hint of acidity to the Indian salad. The juicy tomatoes help balance the pungency of the onions, creating a well-rounded flavour profile. Large firm salad tomatoes are best.
Cherry tomatoes can make an excellent substitute with a sweeter taste.
Cucumbers lend their crisp, cool crunch to the salad, offering a refreshing contrast to the intense flavours of the onions and tomatoes.
Coriander leaves bring an aromatic edge to the salad. Infusing the salad with a distinctively Indian touch.
Plus, their vibrant green colour adds a visual appeal, making the dish as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the palate.
If you don't like coriander, chopped mint leaves make a great alternative.
A splash of fresh lemon juice is the final touch that ties all the flavours together. It cuts through the raw onions, mellows the sweetness of the tomatoes and cucumbers, and highlights the aroma of the coriander or mint leaves. The result is a balanced, tangy finish that leaves you wanting more.
Lime juice can be used instead.
Finely cut green chillies can be added for those who love a bit of heat. This optional ingredient brings a spicy kick, adding another layer of complexity to the Indian salad. Just remember: a little goes a long way!
To prepare the Indian Onion Salad, you will need the following kitchen equipment:
A stable and spacious cutting board is essential for chopping salad items finely.
A good quality chef's knife is needed for precise and even chopping of the onions, tomatoes, and cucumber.
We prepare our kachumber salad in a balti serving dish. You can do it in a simple large mixing bowl instead.
Now it's time to combine the ingredients in this easy salad recipe.
Aim for an even amount of tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers for a balanced taste and visual appeal. Start by thoroughly washing all the salad items under cold running water.
Slice the tomatoes in half horizontally. Hold each half cut side facing down, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
To make the best Indian Onion Salad, deseeding the tomatoes prevents it from becoming too watery, and some people find that it reduces any potential bitterness from the seeds.
Cut onion, cucumber and tomato into similar size pieces and finely chop fresh herbs to add.
If you make onion salad to serve with poppadoms, the smaller you can dice, the better. If you are serving it with a curry or as a side dish, you may prefer to cut them into chunkier pieces.
Place the chopped onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the top, sprinkle with the thinly sliced fresh mint or coriander to taste, and toss until all the ingredients are evenly coated.
Allow the Indian onion salad to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. This resting time allows the flavours to meld together and the vegetables to marinate in the lemon juice and seasonings, making the salad even more flavorful.
This Indian-style onion salad is the perfect side dish for a spicy curry. The finely diced onion, cucumber, tomato and lemon juice beautifully balance a curry's rich, intense spices.
Onions and cucumbers also aid digestion, making it easier to handle a rich and heavy curry, acting as a refreshing palate cleanser between bites of curry.
Indian Curry Recipes
Here are a few of our favourite curry recipes to serve kachumber salad with.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Indian Onion Salad (Kachumber)
- ½ Red Onion
- 1 large Tomatoes
- ¼ Cucumber
- ½ Lemon Juice only
- few sprigs Coriander Leaves
- 1 Green Chilli
- Finely dice ½ Red Onion .
- Cut ¼ Cucumber into similar size cubes to the onion.
- Deseed 1 large Tomatoes using a large spoon to scoop out the insides. Discard seeds to prevent the salad being watery and bitter.
- Cut the tomato flesh into small cubes too.
- Chop a few sprigs Coriander Leavesplace all the chopped salad items into a serving dish. Squeeze the juice from ½ Lemon.
- Mix together until all ingredients are evenly combined. Add 1 Green Chilli finely chopped if extra spiciness is required.
- Cover the salad and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- When serving, pair the Indian Onion Salad with poppadums, mango chutney, and raita or enjoy it as a refreshing side with a spicy curry.
Use an airtight container to keep the salad crisp and prevent it from absorbing odours from other foods in the fridge. Immediately after preparation, refrigerate the salad to slow down degradation and keep it fresh.
The salad should ideally be consumed within 1-2 days as the tomatoes and cucumbers will release their juices over time, making the salad watery and causing the onions to lose their crunch.
This simple salad is more than just a compelling mix of tastes and textures—it's a glimpse into Indian culture and the philosophy of balance in its cuisine.
Onions are more than just a vegetable in India; Raw onions have medicinal properties and flavour-enhancing capabilities. A raw onion salad served to celebrate these attributes, serving onions in their raw, potent form.
This humble salad often acts as a palate cleanser, refreshingly contrasting spicy curries and rich kebabs.
More Salad Recipes
If you're a fan of great salads, why not explore some of our other salad recipes? There's plenty more to try.