Tomato and Onion Salad (Kachumbari) (Tested)


“Kachumbari” is a fresh tomato and onion salad/salsa that is eaten as a side salad as well as a condiment. Kachumbari can be found on almost every table accompanying meals in Kenya, as well as in the surrounding areas of Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. In fact, I’m betting that many, many cultures throughout the world serve something similar. The pico de gallo that you find in Mexican cuisine is just such an example.

In particular, you will always find Kachumbari accompanying “Nyama Choma” grilled meat, and pilau (rice pilaf). The ingredients are simple, consisting of tomatoes, onions, chile pepper, and salt. Kachumbari is often prepared using chopped vegetables, but sometimes sliced vegetables are used instead.

Optional ingredients sometimes added to this dish are cucumbers and avocado. Although they are not traditional, they would be welcome in this salad.

This is a dead simple dish to make, and I am confident that you will be able to figure out how to put this together without specific measurements. It’s what I call a “no-recipe recipe” –  you just can’t mess this one up! Since I want to serve this as a salad I have chosen to slice my tomatoes and onions rather than chop them. Feel free to choose your own adventure when deciding how to slice your vegetables or whether to include any optional ingredients.


No-Recipe Recipe for Kachumbari

Sliced tomatoes

Thinly sliced sweet onions (such as Walla Wally, Vidalia, or Texan)

Chopped chile pepper

Chopped cilantro

Fresh lime, or red wine vinegar


OPTIONAL: olive oil, avocado, cucumber


Arrange the tomatoes on a platter, topped with the onions. Sprinkle with the chile and cilantro. Drizzle with olive oil (my optional but not traditional choice), lime juice, or red wine vinegar, and sprinkle aggressively with salt.


Notes and Instructions

Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy