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.

weeknight express

Sign up for my weekly-ish, ad-free newsletter, with recipes, inspirations, what I’m reading / watching / shopping.
(You’ll get a link for a free PDF e-book with 10 recipes)

weeknight express

Cucumber Salad

4 from 2 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!

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


Wow interesting combination of ingredients! I wouldn't have thought of that on my own, but it looks beautiful. Sounds like a fun twist on a summer cucumber salad.


I'm not typically a huge fan of Indian food, but this looks so good. It looks l ike it has great flavor and texture combinations.

Rachel @ Rachel's Recipe Reviews

What a great combination of ingredients! I'm ready to eat this salad right now for breakfast!


This looks like an awesome snack! Thanks for sharing.

Snack Girl

It's great when you come across a cookbook you wouldn't normally choose, and end up loving it. Gotta shake things up and try something new sometimes. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to your coverage of Nigel Slater's book- LOVE him!


What a perfect salad for spring! Although I have a romaine/spring mix salad for lunch today, this will definitely add some extra excitement to other lunches! You have proved to the world that eating healthy isn't BORING! Thank you!


Yummy, this looks amazing. Love cooking with peanuts

Lily Simpson

This seems to be the perfect combination of cooling veggies for summer with warming spices to keep the salad bright and interesting. For those with peanut allergies, I would recommend using shelled and toasted sunflower seeds to get a similar crunch and toasty flavor (not quite the same peanutty flavor quality of course). I also like sunflower seeds as a cheaper alternative to pine nuts, which seem to cost as much as gold these days. HS: Great idea Abbey.

Abbey @ The Trash Salad

This looks fantastic - love the serranos in it. With all of your recipes I have bookmarked, I need to take a year and cook everything Julie/Julia-style. :)

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

You magically always sort out dinner, Heidi. It is a unique gift of yours. I agree with your attitude on styles of cooking I don't know much of, like the Indian one. I don't want to completely change the flavours, but traditional recipes can still be a great inspiration without tracking down the ingredients to the latest exotic one. By the way this is something I often do with your recipes as well since I have trouble finding mexican ingredients, which you use quite often. It works, most of the times!


It might be time I join the group, I have never even experimented with Indian inspired dishes (I'm probably the only one....) - what better time than now! This looks like a great welcome to the summer salad season!


Wow, what a totally unique and delicious-sounding salad! I love this!! And pretty, too :)


Looks divine. Will be my mother's day gift to myself! Yummy refreshing lunch while the chaos of children swirl around.


What an interesting combination of ingredients! All separately I enjoy, so why not together.

Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

For those of us with peanut allergies, which nuts might make acceptable alternatives? HS: Someone else suggested sunflower seeds, which I thought sounded like a great idea.


i've never really been one to love cucumbers, but i have to say that this sounds incredibly flavorful and refreshing!

Heather (Heather's Dish)

How fun to walk around after your book signing and pick out a cookbook! This salad dish looks delicious. The crunchiness of the cool cucumbers and the peanuts would be a nice combination. I find main courses easy enough but finding sides like this is good too.

Snippets of Thyme

Heidi this looks delish!! I love cucumbers AND I love peanuts or anything peanut sauce related. This is perfect for me. I also won Helen of Tartlette's give away for your book and I posted about it a couple days ago...but just wanted to thank you so much for the book. It's amazing, beautiful, and you inspire me SO MUCH. Your recipes, your photography, your accomplishments..I want to be like you when I grow up :) HS: Thanks for all the nice words Averie - your cinnamon-sugar chickpeas look really intriguing! Might have to give those a go.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

Why have I never thought of this?! Genius!

Simply Life

What a nice combo of flavors!


More Recipes

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Any clickable link to on the site is an affiliate link.