Cucumber Salad Recipe

A refreshing chopped cucumber salad loaded with peanuts, spices, toasted coconut, and chiles.

Cucumber Salad

I have two new cookbooks on my desk. Two books to really dive into. Tender V.1 by Nigel Slater, and How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor. Today's Cucumber Peanut Salad was my first foray into Sanjeev's book and it doesn't disappoint - chopped cucumbers, spices, toasted peanuts, coconut, and green chiles come together in a refreshing but surprisingly substantial salad.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad

A Special Cucumber Salad

After my book signing in Berkeley recently, I was invited by the shop to choose and take home any book I liked. How to Cook Indian was it. I tucked the massive orange Indian volume under my arm, went home, and spent hours the next morning tagging recipes - so many! Today's cucumber salad was one of them. I took a few liberties with it based on personal preference and the ingredients in my kitchen. I mean, that's how I approach many recipes. I don't always have all the ingredients on hand, but I try not to let that deter me. Instead of trying to get thing perfectly "authentic" or as written, I like the spirit of winging it a bit, based on what I think will taste good within the general framework of a recipe.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad
That's what you see here. So, for this cucumber salad - I didn't have the fresh coconut Sanjeev calls for, but I did have big, dried coconut flakes. I knew I could toast them, and they'd be great- so I went with it. I like to leave some of the peel on my cucumbers - so that is what you see here. That sort of thing. If like me you I forgot to grind the peanuts, whole peanuts are great here too.
Half-peeled Cucumbers

What Kind of Cucumbers Should I Use?

You have options! I grow multiple types of cucumbers in our garden. Favorite varietals for a cucumber salad like this include Japanese cucumber, lemon cucumber, Persian cucumber and English cucumber. Select cucumbers with healthy looking skins, and a plump, tense feel overall. You don't want limp, sad, dehydrating cucumber. A long way of saying that choosing a great cucumber can be more important than the type of cucumber.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad on a Serving Plate
The perfect salad for a hot summer day. Pair this cucumber salad with whatever you have coming off the grill, it goes beautifully with so much. We've enjoyed it alongside kebabs, grilled quesadillas, veggie burgers, and tofu burgers.

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Cucumber Salad

4.6 from 5 votes

You can prep all the components ahead of time, but don't toss the salad until just before serving. If you do the peanuts will lose their crunch because the cucumbers give off a good amount of water. If you use two chiles and leave the seeds/veins in - this is quite a spicy salad, so feel free to adapt for your tastes. You can just use one chile, and if you're still worried, remove the seeds and veins. It can be made vegan by substituting sunflower oil for the ghee.

  • 3 medium cucumbers, partially peeled
  • 1-2 green serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 1/2 cup / 2.5 ounces / 70 g peanuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup / 1.5 ounces / 45 g dried large-flake coconut, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon, ghee, clarified butter, or sunflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • a handful cilantro, chopped
  1. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and chop into pieces roughly the size of pencil erasers. Just before you're ready to serve, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss gently with chiles, peanuts, coconut, lemon juice, and sugar.
  2. Over medium heat melt the ghee in a small skillet. When hot stir in the mustard seeds. They are going to sputter and spit a bit, and when this starts to happen, add the cumin for 15-30 seconds, just long enough to toast the spices. Cover with a lid if needed. Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and immediately stir this into the salad. Turn out onto a platter topped with the cilantro.


Serves 4.

Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Cucumber Salad {Khamang Kakdi) in How to Cook Indian. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, April 2011.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 mins
Total Time
12 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I cannot wait to get Nigel's new book. This dish looks wonderful too. I typically use cucumbers in cocktails - and really need to incorporate them into my salads, that's where they belong! :)

Maggie at Eat Boutique

"I forgot to grind the peanuts - the sky did not fall." - This made me grin. :-) I wish I could be as adventurous as you are. Looking forward to trying this.


This sounds so perfectly refreshing!

Jessica @ How Sweet

Wow, this looks wonderful!

Blog is the New Black

I've followed your blog for a long time, but am commenting for the first time. I am delighted to see this salad make it into your blog. Being from India, I make this salad on a fairly regular basis. Some variations that I use: 1. Add curry leaves (kadhipatta) to the ghee after the cumin. It imparts a wonderfully fresh flavor to the salad. 2. Use steamed and coarsely mashed butternut squash instead cucumbers (with some yogurt to thin it out). That makes it into a wonderful raita. Thanks for the wonderful blog!! HS: Love the butternut squash idea - I'll totally give it a go later in the year! Thanks for the tip KJ.


Interesting, and unlikely combination of such wonderful ingredients.


Mmm, yum! Lately I've been making mine by shaving cucumber (with the slicer on the side of the grater) and I like boiled peanuts with mine. They add the saltiness for me, and they are nice and soft.


I liked so much your todays recipe, i also cook a salad from India What a coincidens!


This is a perfect meal for those of us who eat higher raw (using a cold-pressed sunflower oil). I love that it if fresh and light but there is depth to the spices and seasoning.

JL goes Vegan

Once I cooked cucumber chutney with all these ingredients except peanuts. It was pretty good. The idea of making a salad with them inspires me so much, it seems better than my chutney, so fresh and spicy. ^_^


Cucumber peanut salad, but of course! Thank you for the reminder to make this delicious salad again. Being a South Indian, coconut and peanuts are always in my kitchen :-)


I just made this ... but used edamame instead of chopped cucumber. Yummy!


I whole heartedly agree with your admiration for nigel slater. His ingredients led recipes have been an inspiration to so many of us. Lovely post as always.


hi heidi, i've enjoyed salads with cucumbers and peanuts, but the use of cumin and coconuts sounds as if it will make it a really interesting salad.. will try when the local cukes are in abundance! on another note, i am FINALLY getting around to cooking from your gorgeous new book and i'm loving it - so far only done really simple ones (biscuits, roasted strawberries, and panakam) but they were all lovely and i can't wait to try more! thanks for another gem of a cookbook - it was well worth the wait.


this sound delicious! I think I'll make it for lunch next week and wrap it in a roti!


Have you tried Middle Eastern cucumbers? I get them at the M.E. market in my neighborhood but have never been able to find them at any coop or supermarket. Anyway, they are smaller, thinner, and drier than American/British cucumbers; the flavor is way more delicate as well. I will make this recipe with them!


Sounds so refreshing....cannot wait to prepare... Your recipes & books are my guidelines as I do my best to make daily changes to my diet and life... thank you!


Lovely! Glad to see more South Indian flavors here. A note about black mustard seeds: it's important that the ghee be quite hot before you add them. Properly done, the black mustard seeds should pop and jump, and should all turn ashen grey. If the ghee isn't hot enough, it will take longer for them to start to pop, and they'll burn in the process. The taste of burnt black mustard seeds will change the whole dish--should you find yourself with burnt ones, clear out the pan and start over with fresh ghee. It's always worth it. HS: Thanks for the tip Liz!


If I can ever eat cucumbers again (right now they make my mouth itchy due to a mild allergy) I will totally make this salad. It looks delicious. I also don't know what I'd do if a bookstore told me I could pick any book I wanted. I'd need a week to decide. What a lovely gift to you!


Wow. What a perfectly unexpected combo of flavors and textures, and perfect for the beautiful spring weather we're having too! I can imagine this being a great appetizer scooped into butter lettuce leaves.


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