Kachumbari – An East African Salad

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From the land of giraffes and zebras via several college hostels in India comes our guest chef . He kicks it off here with his first recipe; a crisp and fresh kachumbari salad reminiscent of his days as a young lad in Dar-es-Salaam.

Kachumbari – An East African Salad

Saturday mornings in Dar-es-Salaam were often a trip with my brother and father to Kariakoo market - a bustling food shopping experience. We spent time buying vegetables for the week, and milk in tetrapaks, to freeze. "Habari ya shamba" - how is the farm - was a common greeting to our sellers. Bursting with the flavors of summer (all year, in equatorial countries..) this simple dish brings back happy memories.

  • Prep Time : 20-30 minutes
  • Cook Time : - minutes
  • Yield : 3-4 servings
Nutrition facts : Calories: It's all good, maan!;



Start with some fresh veggies, that are a time tested hit in many cultures.

The Usual Suspects

  • Cucumbers to core, seed and score the outside before cutting into half-moons. Beware of some versions of kachumbari recipes that don't have cucumbers in them by the way.. what do you think kachumbari (from kachumbar) means?
  • Tomatoes, ripe. Pick your favorite. Chop them.
  • Spring onions - for a milder kick. You could use red or white onions as more authentic, my Tanzanian friends like food with a bite. Some versions had garlic. I left it out here.
  • Cole Slaw - You know that bit about cabbage and shredded carrots? Well, I cheated. Read my bio. In Tanzania at least kachumbari always featured cabbage.

Spicing - I added a few twists.

Spicing. The dressing is sesame oil and lemon juice.


  • Serrano chiles - I took down the heat a bit by seeding and ribbing them, so the kids would try these flavorful chopped wonders.
  • Lemon - You'll need some wedges and some juice. Limes are good too.
  • Cilantro - No such thing as too much, if you ask me. I chop it coarse.
  • Spice mix - Salt, coarsely ground black pepper to taste, cumin seeds, paprika. Cumin seeds weren't always in kachumbari.  Interestingly, I didn't see ginger either, though it could kick it up a notch.
  • Dressing - sesame oil and lemon juice. I guess olive oil could work, but I like the dark sweet note sesame oil brings in here.

So I do remember seeing kachumbari served both pre-mixed, and in a make your own version like this - you could vary the ingredients as you liked.

Self-Serve Kachumbari Station

Kachumbari is a  salad popular through East Africa, served with many varieties of meals - from the staple ugalli (a polenta like mush) to nyama choma (a meat-heavy outdoor barbecue fest), with just kachumbari for vegetable respite, and even for breakfast. Here, I paired it with chapati and a dal bukhara with peas and carrots.



The Usual Suspects Spicing. The dressing is sesame oil and lemon juice. Self-Serve Kachumbari Station

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