Chickpea salads have the makings of the perfect weekday lunch. Satisfying texture, satiating protein, and a colorful mix of veggies to help you meet your daily quota. But when it comes to flavor, that’s where this category of summer meals tends to be lacking. Well let me tell you, this chickpea salad—starring mint chutney—might just be the most flavorful salad you’ve ever had.
Thanks to some fond memories from my mom’s kitchen and a trifecta of flavor-packed ingredients, your mind is about to be blown. Growing up, every dinner was served with a side of kachumber. Kachumber is a salad made simply from tomatoes, onions, and cucumber. Similar to a chopped salad, my mom would dress it up with a squeeze of lemon and add a little spice with some chaat masala.
Palate-cleansing and fresh, my brother and I would dive into the giant bowl and devour it with our hands (between bites of channa masala and palak paneer). And while it didn’t cut it as a main meal, I’ve since turned the salad into one of my go-to’s for a quick and easy dish packed with a punch of flavor.
Tips for Making This Chickpea Salad
Real talk: On their own, chickpeas can be kind of bland. While this salad requires minimal cooking time, I like to add flavor by flash-sautéing the chickpeas in the tastiest combo of spices.
If you’ve tried my recipes before, you know that I’m the poster child for fresh spices and getting the most flavor from them as possible. The simplest way to do that is to activate those spices with some heat in a pan. Toast your spices in a pan until fragrant, then add the chickpeas and toss until coated. Flavor, fulfilled.
How To Pack Your Mint Chutney Full of Flavor
Every desi mom I know has her own mint chutney recipe—tastes and preferences vary, and everyone has their own (strongly-held) opinions about what flavors should come forward. So take this as my permission to use this mint chutney that I’ve adapted from my mom as you see fit.
Ingredients needed: mint, cilantro, lime or lemon, a spicy pepper, onion, and sugar. My mom is adamant about ensuring that all the flavors are balanced (it’s key to making this chutney the star of the show). You won’t know what you need to add without tasting as you go. I used a very spicy serrano and went a little heavy handed with the lime, balancing everything out with a little more sugar than I thought I needed.
When you hit the right balance, your chutney will pack an unbeatably bright and fresh amount of flavor—it’s truly next-level. The chutney makes this salad so delicious, but it would also be tasty spread on a sandwich, mixed with yogurt and served as a dip, or drizzled onto chaat (my personal favorite).
Can I make this chickpea salad ahead of time?
Absolutely! In fact, I suggest making this salad about an hour ahead of time to let the flavors meld. Or, you could pre-chop all the veggies as part of your weekly meal prep and dress individually-portioned salads fresh to go.
I hate raw onions. How can I tone down their flavor?
If you’re not a fan of raw onion, chop your onion in half and soak it in water for about an hour or so. This helps to cut the raw red onion’s bite.
How To Serve Your Chickpea Salad
I like to serve this salad with a side of naan for dinner to make it a bit more hearty. You can also use this salad like a salsa inside of a pita with fresh greens and/or your favorite protein of choice. I’ll sometimes add chopped avocado if I have some in the fridge, or with hummus to eat with pita chips. However you serve it, this chickpea salad will be a flavor-packed addition to the table.
This post was originally published in May 2017, and has since been updated.
for the salad :
- 2 tbsp oil or ghee
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp fresh ground cumin seeds
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- handful of baby tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 english cucumber, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- handful of chopped cilantro
- a few leaves of chopped mint
- optional: sprinkle chaat masala on salad to serve
for the mint chutney:
- 1/2 cup of chopped mint leaves
- 1 big bunch of cilantro
- juice of 1 1/2 lime
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 1 seeded serrano pepper, more or less depending on heat preference
- pinch of salt
- Make the chutney. Add all of the ingredients to a small blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the bowl between as needed. It might look chunky at first until the herbs breakdown, but keep blending until smooth. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Set aside. Can be stored in an airtight container for a week in the fridge.
- Add oil to a stove top pan and bring to a medium heat. Add all of the spices and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the chickpeas and cook until the spices coat the chickpeas and they are slightly golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Add the chopped vegetables, herbs, and chutney together in a bowl and coat to combine. Serve!
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