Thai Cucumber Relish

Thai Cucumber Relish
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My hot take is that the Bay Area’s best food is in the Tri-Valley area. The restaurants may not be as glossy as the ones in San Francisco but so many of my favorite dishes are on the 680 corridor (or close by). This weekend, while staying at my in-laws, we ordered Thai food from one of my favorite restaurants, 11th Tiger in Danville. Branching out from my usual order (which is hard when they’re so good), I got some curry puffs (described as ‘Thai samosas’) for all of us to try.

The puffs comprised of flaky short pastry filled with a well-spiced but not chili-spicy potato and carrot filling. My Indian samosa-loving family deemed them worthy of reordering them. Accompanying the puffs was a small takeout sauce cup of sweet, cucumber salad that we carefully divided into 3 portions. I wish we had gotten more. I absolutely love having contrasts in my meal and am currently of the strong opinion that we don’t give side salads and condiments enough credit. Something sharp and zingy can break the monotony of a simple dish and take it to a whole new level.

Adapting a traditional Thai recipe

We had enough leftovers of our mains for a second meal but I wanted cucumber salad on the side to go with it. I suspected it was not difficult to make. I found a recipe on one of my favorite Thai food blogs, Cooking with Nart which had a recipe for Thai Cucumber Relish (or Ajaad). Given the technique of soaking the veggies in a pickling liquid, I probably agree with calling it a ‘relish’ but given the quantities I’d like to consume of it, I could make a case for calling it a salad as well.

I’ve kept the broad brushstrokes of Nart’s technique but have streamlined the recipe and resized it (especially the pickling liquid) to a smaller amount. While the Thai cucumber relish served with our curry puffs was on the milder side, a moderately spicy, red chili coarsely chopped added a welcome heat and color. As you make this remember that cooking is an art not a science so play around with the type of chili and onion as well as the cucumber cut. Don’t fret if your measurements aren’t completely precise.

If you find that you like this recipe and are curious about making more Thai recipes, I’ve appreciated the approachability of both Cooking with Nart and Hot Thai Kitchen.

Beyond serving this relish with curry puffs or satay, I think this would be a great side to any hot & spicy food. I personally enjoyed this with a peanut noodle dish designed to use up leftovers in my fridge. I also wouldn’t hesitate to serve it alongside a richer Indian meal or potentially as an accompaniment to a spicy mole.

Thai Cucumber Relish

Recipe by Preeyanka


Prep time


Cooking time



This cucumber relish, adapted from Cooking with Nart is a great accompaniment to something rich and spicy such as curry puffs, spicy noodles.


  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 2 Tbs white vinegar

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 cup cucumber, diced

  • 1/2 cup shallots or red onions

  • 1 Fresno chili, finely diced or sliced into rings (omit if you don’t want spice)


  • Combine water, sugar, vinegar and salt in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved. This goes very fast on a (portable) induction stove if you have one. Let the mixture cool down while you prep the vegetables.
  • Add the cucumber, shallots and fresno chili to a small bowl and pour the cooled pickling liquid over the vegetables.


  • Vary the cucumber piece shapes to best suit how you plant to serve the relish. It’s easier to spoon small pieces atop something and easier to pick up large pieces with your fingers.