One of the best surprises in Indian cooking is the recipe for Kachumbar. The word is derived from the Hindi word kacha, which mean raw. It is a side dish, a chopped salad, made of fresh vegetables with a simple, light dressing. Originating with the Moghuls, this dish was made with onion and cucumber then served with kebabs. Today it is made with tomato, onion, cucumber, green chile and cilantro. In my mind, it compares with Pico de Gallo, which is popular with TexMex cuisine and has become a staple at many meals.
I love the recipe for Kachumbar since it is so light and healthy as well as easy to make. I like varying the ingredients by adding chopped radishes, jicama, green onions, carrots and cooked chickpeas to vary the flavor and texture. This recipe can be customized to suit your palate; I have even seen versions that have been sweetened with bits of mango. Kachumbar is served with any curry dish especially hot ones since it is very soothing to the palate but it also pairs well with rice dishes and biryanis. Of course, like most contemporary cuisine, it can be eaten with anything you like. I substitute it for TexMex Pico de Gallo and serve it with nacho chips. For and easy and tasty lunch, I serve a quarter cup of it poured over a bed of chopped romaine lettuce or a few spoonfuls in a leaf of Belgian endive.
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch asafetida
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 English cucumber, finely chopped
3 radishes, finely chopped
1 Serrano chile, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1. Whisk the Dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside for about an hour.
2. Combine the Vegetable ingredients in a plastic bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
3. Whisk the Dressing again then pour it over the vegetables. Toss well to coat. Let the Kachumbar sit for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
– To reduce the heat, remove the seeds and the white membrane from the chile, or use half of the chile.
– To reduce the strong flavor of the onion, place them in a bowl by them selves and sprinkle them with a bit of salt. After 10 minutes, rinse them well with cold water to remove the salt then add to the Kachumbar.
– If lime juice is not available, substitute lemon juice.
– Have fun with this recipe and create your own version.