There’s nothing better than whipping up a quick salad full of flavor using ingredients that you usually have on hand. Kachumbari is a fresh tomato and onion salad enjoyed in across East Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This version by Kenyan Chef Lesiamon Ole Sempele is the perfect accompaniment for savory dishes, including his chicken pilau.
Kachumbari comes from kachumber, the Indian cucumber and tomato salad. This East African version is typically made up of tomato, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, and lemon.
It’s versatile in appearance and flavor. The vegetables can be sliced like a slaw or diced pico de gallo style.
Tip: Salting your sliced raw onion, rinsing them in cold water, or tossing them in a bit of acid before putting the salad together helps tame the bitterness.
You can add cucumbers for more freshness, cabbage or carrots for a crunch. The citrus is the acid which helps enhance the flavors and adds a brightness that balances a fatty dish.
Another tip: You can sub out the lemon for lime or a splash of vinegar if you prefer the taste.
Control the heat of the chili by the type of pepper you use. For an even more mild kachumbari, remove the seeds and membrane of the chili before adding. In Kenya, kachumbari is served alongside a plethora of dishes including pilau, a fragrant one-pot meat and rice dish. It also makes a great pairing for meat and fried foods like Kiano’s Coriander Katsu.
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4 medium-sized tomatoes (deseeded, diced or sliced)
1 small red onion (diced or sliced)
1 bunch fresh coriander (chopped)
1 small green chili (thinly sliced)
2 spring onions (green parts only, finely chopped)
1 large lemon (juiced)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
- Add onions to a large mixing bowl, add the fresh lemon juice, and toss. This step can help tame the bitter taste of the raw onion.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and gently toss with 2 forks.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then dress your salad with a splash of olive oil.
- Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving for the flavors to marry.