Kachumbari (Tomato and Onion Salad) from Africa

This recipe was given to my by my sister in law, Lucy Mwangi who is from Kenya. Wherever I have travelled in East Africa, I have always been served a similar salad. Depending on the country or the region sometimes the vegetables are sliced finely, sometimes with avocado or peppers and often served with vinegar or even gin! This however is how I am most familiar with Kachumbari and I always make sure I have some when travelling through East Africa. The Kenyan people love Kachumbari with their Nyama Choma (which is barbecued meat). Kachumbari is often called the East African Cole Slaw!

I have not come across avocados in the traditional Kachumbari, however I love to use it myself. Omit if you prefer.

Nothing reminds me more of my travels through East Africa than this salad

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free
  • Vegan

Kachumbari (Tomato and Onion Salad) from Africa

Serves 3-4 as a side dish


  • 1 large onion (red), chopped very finely and soaked
  • 2 teaspoons salt (Himalaya or sea salt)
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped very finely
  • 1 chilli (red), chopped very finely
  • Half a cucumber, chopped very finely
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped very finely
  • 1 avocado, ripe but firm (optional), chopped finely
  • Lime wedges to serve (optional)


  1. Peel and chop the onion very finely.
  2. Place the chopped onion in a small bowl and fill it up with water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and stir lightly. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Chop the 4-5 tomatoes, the half cucumber and the handful coriander leaves very finely.
  4. Cut the chilli in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and the membranes. Use plastic gloves if you have sensitive skin.
  5. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Gently twist the two halves in opposite direction if you find the flesh clinging to the pit. Remove the pit, either with a spoon or by spearing with the tip of a knife. Place the halves face down, then peel and chop very finely.
  6. Place the chopped onion and the water in a sieve. Shake the sieve a little to remove every drop of water. Allow to drain for 10 minutes.
  7. Transfer the chopped and drained onions, cucumber, chilli, coriander leaves, avocado and tomatoes into a large bowl and stir gently.
  8. Slice 1 lime into wedges and serve with the salad if desired.


  • You can omit the avocado if you prefer.
  • In some parts of Africa, the salad is served with the vegetables very thinly sliced instead of chopped.