Kachumbari (East African Salad) Recipe - as suggested by the name, Kachumbari is a vegan East African Salad Recipe that is delicious, refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to your grilled meats, vegetables, fries, just about anything tastes great when served with Kachumbari. In Kenya, Kachumbari is mostly served as an appetizer or as a side dish alongside Pilau rice.
Don't forget to read through the post so you do not miss out on useful TIPS related to this recipe.
In the first place, there are so many variations of Kachumbari. Some people prefer the salad with avocado, some with cucumbers and some with, for example, mango. It all depends on taste and preference. The base of the salad remains tomatoes and onions.
Kachumbari has its origins from India, where it is known as Cachumber or Kachumber. East African chapatis and Kachumbari are some of the dishes that owe their heritage to the Indians who came to work for the British during the colonial era.
For those who are curious, Kachumbari is pronounced - KA - CHU -MBA - RI. KA - like the KA in Alkaloid, CHU - the first part CH is similar to the pronunciation in church, BUT the U sounds like it does when one is pronouncing the vowel u. MBA - same pronunciation as the end of the word plumber. Finally, RI is simple. For lack of another example, RI is similar to the RI in the name Rihana.
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Kachumbari (East African Salad) Recipe - Ingredients
As pointed out, the most basic Kachumbari consists of tomatoes, onions, salt and some type of acid to get rid of the bite from the tomatoes (normally lemons or limes). I did not start seeing all the other variations of Kachumbari with avocado, cabbage or cucumber until much later when I was in college.
To make this Kachumbari (East African Salad) recipe, you will need:-
- Sharp Chef's knife - to slice the vegetables.
- Medium-sized bowl - to mix the salad
- A chopping board - assists with the cutting.
- A lemon press or squeezer (optional) - to squeeze the lemon juice. Don't have a press? No problem at all. Just use a fork. Cut the lemon in half, press a fork in the middle and use circular motions to squeeze the juice to a cup.
- A spoon - to help with the mixing.
How to make - steps
Wash the tomatoes then dry them using a clean kitchen towel. Peel the onion and set aside. Use a knife to slice the onions.
TIP: Finely cut the vegetables. The shape is not very important (julienne or cubed), most important is that you cut them as finely as you can.
Place the sliced onion in a bowl. To the bowl, add a tablespoon of salt and one and a half cups of warm water. Stir then set aside for at least 5 minutes.
Next, add tomatoes, coriander or cilantro and the chilli to a medium-sized bowl. The chilli is optional. Sieve and drain off the water, including excess salt from the onion. Add the onion to the bowl with the rest of the vegetables then mix.
Add the juice of half a lemon to the bowl with the vegetables. Adjust for salt and store in the fridge for about 25 minutes to allow the flavour to come together.
TIP: The resting time is important! The salad tastes much better when left to rest for a while.
TIP: Although the original recipe only uses salt, you can use black pepper.
TIP: You can substitute the juice of half a lemon in the recipe for lime juice. About a quarter of a lime should do. Add some more if preferred.
Ya nanasi (with pineapple) -To the chopped tomatoes, soaked onion, coriander and chillis, one adds an eighth of a pineapple, finely diced. This is then sparingly dressed with lemon juice.
Ya avocado (with avocado) - Make salad as per the basic recipe below. To it, add about ½ of a diced avocado. When choosing avocado for this recipe, it is best to choose one that is ripe but still slightly firm.
With vinegar - Instead of lemon juice, you can make Kachumbari with balsamic vinegar. Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar instead.
Kachumbari - East African Salad Recipe
- Chopping board
- Mixing bowl
- 3 medium-sized tomatoes
- ¾ bulb onion medium sized
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 bunch corriander
- juice from ½ of a lemon
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1-2 bird eye chillis - finely chopped optional
- Wash the tomatoes and dry them using a clean kitchen towel. Peel the onion then set aside. Using a sharp knive, finely slice the tomatoes. Separately, finely slice the onion, coriander or cilantro, and chillis. Keep each ingredient separate. Cut the lemon, squeeze the juice and set aside on a cup.
- Transfer the sliced onion to a medium-sized bowl. Add a tablespoon of salt and some warm water then stir until most of the salt has dissolved in the water. This helps get rid of the tanginess in the onions. Stir, then keep aside for at least 5 minutes.
- Using a sieve, discard excess water together with any excess salt from the onions. Add the sliced onions to the bowl with the tomatoes and mix. Next, add the coriander or cilantro. You can also add the chillis at this point. The chillis are optional.
- Slowly add the lemon juice and keep tasting as you go. You can use more or less of the lemon juice if you like. Adjust for salt and let rest for at least 25 minutes. Serve with grilled meat or vegetables.
KACHUMBARI WITH AVOCADO
- To make Kachumbari with Avocado, you will need to add about ¼ – ½ of an avocado to the basic Kachumbari recipe above.
- Do not forget to soak the onions as this helps get rid of the pungent smell and bite.
- You can serve the chillis separately, in case you have people who do not like it spicy.
- Feel free to use more lemon juice if you prefer a more sour taste.
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