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

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4.5 from 4 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


Thanks so much for the recipe! I just had a salad like this for the first time and was dying for a recipe. It's like you read my mind!


Cucumbers and peanuts are a surprising combination, but I'll bet this is light and delicious!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

I love those big curls of toasted coconut :) Cucumbers are making a reappearance at the greenmarket right now so the timing of this recipe is perfect for me, too.


This looks like a delicious salad! I love Indian food, but it can be hard to track down all the traditional ingredients in the U.S. Its nice to know you can improvise with what you have on hand! By the way, it was a pleasure meeting you in Portland last week and I have been enjoying your cookbook immensely! It is the perfect amount of inspiration and instruction. I made the chick pea stew with saffron, adding some extra veggies that were on their last limb and it was great. I also made roasted chickpeas as a topping to some other dishes and last night I made a variation of the carnival cookies. Thanks for all the hard work you put into the book!


this is going to pair perfectly with my citrus marinated grilled chicken tonight. perfect timing and thanks for giving me something new to add to my repertoire.


This sounds wonderful and refreshing. I love the sound of the cucumbers with coconut, peanuts, serrano chiles and the spices. I can feel my tastebuds exploding just from reading the recipe. I can't wait to try this. Thanks for sharing.

Vicki Bensinger

how lovely: all my favorite salad ingredients!


Oooh! This looks so delicious, Heidi! Perfect for summer. I love the addition of cumin and black mustard seed - sounds so intriguing. I will certainly be trying this soon! :)

Brooke (The Flour Sack)

This looks amazing! I love cucumbers, and peanuts, and coconut (in savory dishes) so this is pretty much perfectly timed for my new goal of increasing veggie intake and decreasing my meat! Plus I happen to have a 1/2 bag of dried coconut flakes left over from baking last week. I can't wait to try this over the weekend! Thanks for always posting such inspiring recipes.


I didn't think I'd like this at first, but then I read through the whole recipe and now I can't wait to make it! Your relaxed approach to it all ("the sky didn't fall") is why I keep coming back here and trying things I might not have before.


I am in love with this cookbook, so perfect -- am hoping I can someday write something like this!! thanks for highlighting it...also just picked up whole living and enjoyed the story on you

Susie Middleton

Wow, the textures and flavors sound amazing in this dish! A wonderful side for the summertime. Would also be great in a wrap!

Jen @ keepitsimplefoods

This looks wonderful. I'd never have thought to put dried coconut in it, but then, that's why I love your blog so much! Just need a lassi to drink with it and I'm set for the evening. :-) Thanks!


This sounds amazingly fresh, perfect for the warmer days ahead. I need to step outside my my box and start cooking with more ingredient combos like this, they sound so good together!


This definitely sounds like one worth bookmarking. I love simple cucumber salads and with the peanuts and coconut this sounds like a fun and unusual take.


Thank you Heidi, this sounds like the perfect salad for the season! I just received your book in the mail last week and I've used it every single weeknight since then. What a great job - the recipes are wholesome and delicious and the photographs are absolutely stunning. Congratulations to you! I'm also really glad you're using Sanjeev Kapoor's book - I grew up watching his cooking show religiously every weekend and he still remains one of my favorite chefs of all time.


yum! perfect salad for spring. love your new cookbook, by the way! you're such an inspiration.

Katie H.

Hi Heidi, I admire you giving Sanjeev Kapoor's recipes a try. He is one of the "simple speaks volumes" philosopher when it comes to cooking. While Indian cooking is quite forgiving if one does not follow the recipes exactly, I hate to tell you that Fresh Coconut is incomparable to the dried version. In the western world, people are intimidated using the fresh version. If grating it fresh coconut is unthinkable(villagers in India would never forgive anyone for not knowing the skill of cracking a coconut, if not shelling it from its fibrous shell), the good news is that most Indian stores do sell grated fresh coconut in the freezer section, which can get you closer to the real coconut taste. The coconut milk in the coconut flesh is something ethereal. Growing up, we would have the tender coconuts brought down the tree, and would drink the juice and scrape the sides of the tender coconut for a snack. I cannot forget the buttery, custardy, melting pieces of coconut flesh. A lot of south indian recipes in that book use fresh coconut generously(including Sambhar). Sakhiya HS: Hi Sakhiya! I think your comment is a great place to start the conversation. I love the idea of building on ideas and ingredient combinations. In this case, I started with his base recipe, but when an ingredient wasn't readily available to me, I just start trying to think about what might taste good. So, yes, I agree - there is nothing quite like fresh coconut, but toasted dried coconut still tasted good here, and brought other textures and dimensions to the dish as well. Next time I'll give it a go with fresh, and I'll be able to compare notes - fun as well.


I am totally going to adapt this for the cleanse I am leading and I can taste it now, thank you Heidi!!!

Hannah Marcotti

This looks perfect, and just right for this warm damp season. The best part is that - with minor adjustments - I think my kids might actually eat it!


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