Does the traditional repertoire of recipes in Indian culture give much space to salads?

Kabuli channa, ‘kosambari’, saandgi mirchi, and more — these ingredients can add some nuances to your salads

Updated - April 22, 2020 07:43 pm IST

Published - April 17, 2020 10:38 am IST - Coimbatore

Salads are tasty and nutritious

Salads are tasty and nutritious

“Salads? I only know of traditional pachadis . Do we even have salads?” asks my mother-in-law when I take my query to her. To my surprise, I get the same response from Swaran Kumar when I ask her for a traditional Punjabi salad. But later she calls back to diffidently offer, “there’s kachumber . I don’t know if that fits your requirements.”

She also points out that this recipe has evolved. “People now add bell peppers, raw mango, cabbage, carrots, all finely chopped or grated.” As she talks, it occurs to me that nuts and seeds would also add some crunch and I make a mental note to try it out.

Punjabi Kachumber


1 cucumber; 2 tomatoes ripe; 1 onion ; 1 tbsp coriander leaves; 1 green chilli; 1/2 black pepper powder; 1 tsp lemon juice; Salt to taste

Method: Chop all the veggies finely and mix. Add all the seasoning and toss to mix. Adjust salt according to taste and serve chilled.

My mother-in-law also tentatively suggests kosambari . While the traditional recipe uses only cucumber, a colleague uses cabbage and adds peanuts for what she calls “the crunch factor”. Other variations use sprouted green gram and veggies like carrots and peppers, and pomegranate seeds.

Kosambari is a traditional and popular south Indian salad made from split moong dal, lentil, cucumber and other ingredients

Kosambari is a traditional and popular south Indian salad made from split moong dal, lentil, cucumber and other ingredients

South Indian Kosambari


1/2 cup moong dal; 1 cucumber; 2tbsps fresh grated coconut; 1 green chilli, finely chopped; 1/2 tsp ginger, grated; 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped

To temper: A pinch asafoetida; A few curry leaves; 1/2 tsp mustard seeds; 1 tsp oil

Method: Soak the moong dal for a couple of hours and then drain the water. Leave it to dry for a few minutes and then place in a bowl. Peel and chop the cucumber into tiny pieces. Add to moong dal along with coconut, green chillis and coriander leaves. Mix well. In a small kadai, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Pour over moon dal mixture. Mix the lemon juice and salt when you’re ready to serve.

In Saee Koranne-Khandekar’s Pangat: A Feast (Hachette), I light upon a few traditional Maharashtrian vegetable and fruit-based salads, though those that have ‘yoghurt dressing’ fall into the raita category in my head. But it does have a tantalising kairichi dal (Raw mango and channa dal salad), which she kindly allowed me to use. “Until a few years ago,” she writes, “this dish used to be a ubiquitous offering at haldi-kumkum parties that women hosted in the month of Chaitra (around March-April) when the raw mangoes come to the market.”

Khairchi Dal


1 1/2 cups channa dal soaked for 3-4 hours; 3/4 cup raw mangoes peeled and thinly grated; 1/2 fresh coconut scraped or grated; 1/4 fresh coriander finely chopped; 4tbsps oil; 1 green chilli; 6-8 saandgi mirchi; Salt to taste; 2tsp sugar (adjust according to mango’s sourness)

Method: Drain the channa dal and place in blender along with the green chilli. Grind to a coarse paste without any extra water. Transfer into a mixing bowl. Add the grated raw mango, coconut, coriander, salt and sugar. Heat oil in a pan, add the saandgi mirchi and fry turning frequently to ensure even browning. Take off the heat and add the chillies and some of the oil to the salad. Crush the chillies lightly and mix gently. Serve cold.

Note: Saangdi mirchi is made by de-seeding and slitting the big green chilli, stuffing it with a paste of coriander, fenugreek and mustard seeds (all coarsely crushed) and mixed with sour yoghurt, and drying it in the sun. This is similar to the South Indian moru milagai.

Apart from stews and chhole, you can also make an interesting salad with channa

Apart from stews and chhole, you can also make an interesting salad with channa

Coimbatore-based food entrepreneur Madhu Wadhwa is a storehouse of traditional Sindhi recipes and happily offers me a recipe made up of two traditional salads. “I remember eating the chatpata channa salad as a kid because my mum made it often. And she used to make onion kuchumber with every meal. I combined the two.”

Kuchumber Chatpatta Channa


For kuchumber: 4 onions; Salt to taste ; Juice of half a lemon; 2 tsps chopped coriander; 1 small green chilli, finely chopped

For channa salad: 2 cups Kabuli Channa; 1 cup cucumber, chopped; 1/2 cup tomato, chopped: 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate; 1/2 cup potato, peeled boiled and chopped; 1 1/2 tbsp chaat masala; 1 tsp red chilli powder; 1 tsp roasted jeera powder; ½ tsp amchur powder; 2-3 tbsps lime juice; 1/4 cup sweet chutney ; 1 tbsp chopped green chillies


To make onion kuchumber: Cut the onions into thin slices. Rub with salt, cover and keep aside for 15-20 minutes. Wash well with fresh water and squeeze. Add lime juice, chopped coriander and chopped green chilli and mix well.

To make chatpata channa: Soak chickpeas in water overnight. Pressure cook with some salt, drain and let cool. Add the chopped cucumber, tomatoes, potatoes and pomegranate. Now add all the spices and salt and lemon juice according to taste. Add the sweet chutney and mix well.

To assemble: Take a platter, place the onion kuchumber in the centre. Around it, place the channa. Chill, garnish with chopped coriander and aloo bhujiya or sev and serve.

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