An Exploratory study of Red Ant Chutney in Bastar Region Dr Sunil Kumar.docx
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An Exploratory Study of Red Ant Chutney in Bastar
*Dr. Sunil Kumar
There are numerous recipes that are profoundly Intact with the cuisine and are very much
popular among the people like the sum of the best example is Punjabi cuisine, some lesser-
known recipes are also existing on the same piece of land that is not even heard of due to some
constraints and awareness amongst the local regional communities. Red Ant chutney
(Oecophylla smaragdina) also known as Chaprah in the local Chhattisgarhi language is an
exotic cuisine made up of red ants that are popular among the localities of Bastar region of
Chhattisgarh state of India, due to its medicinal properties, and formic acid which is present in
red ants, it is consumable amongst the rural people of that particular region at large scale but
still, on the other hand, are very much away from the reach of the people all in some parts of
Chhattisgarh and around the world.
This research concludes that red ant chutney definitely has potential and is going to benefit the
rural people as well as tribal communities resides in the Bastar district. It also have potential to
attract tourist since it has medicinal properties and health benefits; resulting in to socio
economic impact on the people of rural areas of Bastar
Key Words: Red Ant Chutney, Chaprah, Bastar, Indian cuisine, Chhattisgarh
* Lecturer, IHM Raipur (C.G.) email@example.com Ph. No. 9996000499
Traditionally the history of this area is mentioned as Dandakaranaya in the epic Ramayana,
and part of the kosala kingdom in the Mahabharata. Around 450 A.D, Bastar state was ruled
by Nala King, Bhavadatta Varman, who is mentioned to have invaded the neighbouring
vakataka kingdom, during the region of its king, Narendrasena (440-460). (Bastar District
Administration, n.d.) Bastar District inherits its name from the former Bastar state, which
together with the erstwhile kanker state, constituted the present district in 1948, as a result of
their integration in the central provinces and berar. Earlier the Bastar state itself derived its
name from Bastar village, as former capital about 19 km, north of Jagdalpur the town which
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has later shifted to Jagdalpur, south of the Indravati river, after the invasion by Nitin Pandit in
about 1750 A.D. (PANDEY, 1993). But according to present scenario, and geographical
location Bastar District is situated in south eastern part of the State of Chhattisgarh in Central
India is known for its regular ambush that come across in day to day routine. The state got its
character on 1st November 2000 as a new state of India named as Chhattisgarh (36 forts ) that
are present in its geographical boundaries.
The particular Bastar district has an area of (10470 km2) is closely enclosed by several other
districts, such as Kondagaon in north, district Bijapur and Dantewada in west and district
Sukma in south and in east and south east by Koraput district of neighbouring Orissa state. The
Bastar district is majorily subdivide in seven blocks namely Jagdalpur, Bastar, Bastanar,
Bakawand, Darbha, Tokapal, Lohandiguda. Beside, this the district and divisional headquarter
Jagdalpur is situated on national highway (highway no 30) connecting Raipur and
Vishakhapatanam of Andhra Pradesh region. Even though, the outskirts of this region are
highly covered with dense forest but large number of Bastar tribals are still living in these deep
forests to avoid mixing with outsiders in order to protect their own unique culture. (Ministry
of Environment, 2016)
History: Red Ant and Chaprah
The Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state has made different identification in their food habits,
living standard and cultural activities in comparison to other zones of the state. If we see the
difference one can differentiate it with easily; in terms of resources that is available with the
communities natural or man-made. The area of Bastar region is immensely natural and has a
rich biodiversity in the geographical surroundings, people of Bastar which are tribal or called
as Adivasi generally use two types of species of red ant for eating Chaprah- “KOIKAKILA”
(RED ANT) and “SMARTLIYA” (FIRE ANT).
Long (LONG, 1901) in his note titled “Red Ants as an Article of food” stated the history of the
red ants. He mentioned that the Murries are natives of the southernmost native state in central
provinces, who use red ants as a regular article of diet. He has also mentioned about the Purjas
, a sub class of the Murries, especially during season who particularly collect nests of red ants,
tear them open to collect the contents in to a cloth and beat them to a pulpy mass with the help
of a stone. To prepare the squashed ants for food it is mixed with salt, turmeric and chillies and
ground down and is then eaten raw with boiled rice . On the other hand they are sometimes
cooked with rice flour.
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The ant is red and yellowish in colour, with a brown or black gaster. Males, on the other hand,
are absolutely dark. Red introduced fire ants are dominant in altered environments and can be
found in a wide range of ecosystems. They have been discovered in rain forests, degraded
fields, deserts, grasslands, alongside roads and houses, and in electrical appliances. Since
foraging tunnels are built and workers emerge well away from the nest, colonies form huge dirt
mounds with no obvious entrances.
These ants show a wide range of behaviours, such as building rafts as they detect rising water
levels. They also exhibit necrophoric behaviour, in which nestmates leave scraps or dead ants
on refuse piles outside the nest. Foraging occurs on wet or hot days, and they may stay outdoors
at night. Workers interact using semiochemicals and pheromones that are used for recruiting,
foraging, and protection.
They are omnivores, eating dead mammals, arthropods, beetles, plants, and sweet substances
like honeydew from hemipteran insects with whom they have formed relationships.
Predators include arachnids, birds, and a variety of insects such as ants, dragonflies, earwigs,
and beetles. The ant serves as a host for parasites as well as a variety of bacteria, nematodes,
and viruses that have been identified as possible biological control agents. Alates will mate for
up to 30 minutes during the warm season.A single queen or a group of queens will establish a
colony, and once the first workers appear, they will compete for dominance.
Workers can live for months, while queens can live for years; colony sizes range from 100,000
to 250,000 individuals.
Polygynous colonies (nests with several queens) and monogynous colonies (nests with one
queen) occur in the red imported fire ant.
Venom is important in the life of an ant and it is used to attract prey or to defend itself. The
venom's components are all water-insoluble piperidine alkaloids, and it is particularly active in
susceptible humans. In the United States, more than 14 million individuals are stung by them
each year, with many developing allergies to the poison. The majority of victims undergo
severe burning and swelling, which is accompanied by the development of sterile pustules that
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can last for several days. However, between 0.6 and 6.0 percent of individuals may experience
anaphylaxis, which can be fatal if untreated.
Dizziness, chest pain, nausea, heavy sweating, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, and
slurred speech are all common symptoms. More than 80 people have died as a result of red
smuggled fire ant attacks. Treatment is determined by the symptoms; those who only have
discomfort and pustule formation do not need medical attention, whereas those who have
anaphylaxis are given epinephrines. Whole body extract immunotherapy is used to treat victims
and is thought to be very successful.
The ant is regarded as a vexing nuisance, causing billions of dollars in destruction each year
and wreaking havoc on wildlife. Since ants thrive in cities, their presence can discourage
outdoor activities. Nests may be constructed under buildings such as pavements and pillars,
causing structural issues or causing them to collapse. Red introduced fire ants can not only
harm or kill buildings, but they can also damage machinery and facilities and have an effect on
industry, land, and property values.
Since workers are drawn to energy, they will surround and kill electrical machinery. They can
harm crops, destroy equipment, and endanger pastures in agriculture. They have been observed
invading a large range of crops, and mounds constructed on farmland can prevent harvesting.
They are also dangerous to animals and poultry, capable of causing serious harm or killing
them, especially vulnerable or sick animals. Despite this, they can be useful since they eat
common crop pest insects. Baiting and fumigation are common strategies for managing these
ants; other methods may be inefficient or harmful. Because of its fame and popularity, the ant
has become one of the world's most studied insects, even rivalling the western honey bee (Apis
FABRICATION: Red Ant
Usually the name of the dish “Chaprah” literally means a “Leaf basket” and refers to the nests
where they reside. Due to its simplicity and exotic flavours the chutney is quite popular among
the tribal community. Likewise the name, it’s process of making it are also natural and iconic
in its true sense. The tribes wander about the forest and collect the red ants and their egg from
their nests. The ants are then further crushed and dried .later, they put it in a pestle and grind it
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with tomatoes, coriander, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt, and a bit of sugar to get its colour. The end
product is a smooth paste like chutney known as “ Chaprah”. Deep in the wild jungles of Bastar,
the sharp red ants are found in abundance and from so many years local tribes are using these
ants as a part of their daily diet.
CONSUMPTION: Red Ant
It has been clearly, observed that the consumption of this exotic delicacy (red ant chutney) is
not limited to the natural era of Bastar region. The neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh like
Odisha and Jharkhand, in some rural area ,people prefer eating red ant chutney. . These
particular regions are –
● Ratakhandi (Odisha)
● Sargipal ( Odisha)
● Darbha ( Bastar Region)
● Dashapal ( Chhattisgarh)
● Kalaguda ( Bastar Region)
● Salfiguda (Bastar Region)
● Nagalsar (Chhattisgarh)
● Metaguda ( Odisha)
Apart from adding fiery pungent flavours to the regular meals of the tribal people, this
accompaniment boasts of many curative qualities in the daily routine as well. These ants
constitute to be cheap, unconventional but significant protein source. (DeFoliart, 1989) (Jintana
Yhoung‐ Aree, 1997) The species that is consumed in the state of Chhattisgarh, The rich
combination of ants and eggs encompass formic acid, protein, calcium and zinc which not only
gives the chutney its characteristic hot and spicy flavour but also act as an anti- bacterial to
combat bacterial stomach infections and helps to improve immune system. The people who
had red ant chutney for the first time were also amazed by its medicinal properties and quick
healing from the diseases. Some Researches has also revealed that the content of the English
tablet like Aspirin, has been taken from the Red ants. Beside, all such curative values it also
prevent from cholesterol complication by maintaining the toxin level in the human body.
In India Medicinal properties of different Ant species
ANT SPECIES DISEASE TREATED REFERENCES
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Provides Resistance against fatigue and sun’s heat (LONG, 1901)
Ant paste used as a remedy for myopia (Padmanabhan,
Fumes obtained by Rubbing ants used to get relief
from symptoms of cold
Stomach ache and cold (Posey, 1986)
Oil (in which adult ants are dipped) used in the
treatment of rheumatism , stomach infections , gout ,
ringworm , aphrodisiac
Gout and joint pain , Weakness resulting from
prolonged fever due to typhoid , for preventing of
Mandibles of soldiers used as a biodegradable sutures
for internal surgery (Bhagwati, 1997)
Mud from ant nest used for treatment of scabies (P Rajitha, 2007)
BUSINESS AND EMPLOYMENT: Red Ant
Mostly the all tribes of these forest region are totally depend on the business of red ant chutney
or on agro based products, Which they produce locally and sell in city market of Jagdalpur out
of which the production of red chutney is grouped with large amount of humans involvement.
This has a great socio-economic impact on these tribes. According to a survey, it is seen that
more than 10 crores ants are being sold in the markets Yearly. In Sanjay Market of Jagdalpur,
more than 10 thousands of Chaprah is being sold in a day.which is not statistically proved. By
some decades, many more people’s lives are dependent on the red ant. Red ants is main the
earning of the nearby peoples. The villagers told that the demand of Red Ant is increasing, by
which it proved to be a employment for the Bastar’s people to a greater extent.
Chutneys are small dishes intended to accompany other foods. They may be considered as a
condiment or accompaniment. Chutneys can be highly spicy, sweet, bland, sour, pungent or a
combination of tastes. They may be prepared from fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. They
may be raw, cooked or preserved. Chutneys are used across the globe including the western
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countries. Indian food is generally accompanied with chutneys. In the West, chutneys are also
eaten with non-vegetarian food especially cold meats.
Chutneys are popularly eaten in Chhattisgarh Meals. Most of the people in Chhattisgarh enjoy
freshly made chutney with their meals. Based upon season and availability of ingredients
chutneys are relished in various forms round the year in Chhattisgarh in most of the meals
including Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Atypical chutney is prepared on a 'Sil Batta' . However,
in modern kitchen we do use Mixer - Grinders for preparation of chutney. But there is a little
variation in taste when prepared in mixer grinder due to incorporation of air, extra fine grinding
and fast processing. If prepared in mixer grinder, it is suggested to keep chutney aside in fridge
for about 15 minutes and then serve, it will taste near to the one prepared on 'Sil Batta'.
One important thing one must keep into mind while preparing chutney on 'Sil Batta' is that dry
ingredients should be ground first and ingredients with high moisture contents in the last. Most
of the chutneys at home in Chhattisgarh are uncooked, spicy and free from oil, ghee or any fat.
Chutneys are best eaten when fresh and they are recommended to be consumed within ninety
minutes after preparation.
Red Ant Chutney
Red Ant 100 gm
Green Chillies 3-4
Coriander Leaves (Optional) 15 gm
Salt a pinch
Method ofPreparation: -
❖ Wash Green Chillies and dry the red ant for increase the taste.
❖ Grind red ant with the help of Sil batta
❖ Add salt and Green Chilli. Mix well.
❖ Severed as accompaniment with Bara and Thethri.
Note: Red Ant Egg give the better taste and in April Month Red Ant are available with egg
in Baster Market.
Red Ant Image Gallery
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Figure 1 LiveRed Ant Stick with Mango Leaf
The length of a queen's head is 1.27 to
1.29 mm (0.050 to 0.051 in) and the
width is 1.32 to 1.33 mm (0.052 to 0.052
in). Formalized paraphrase The scapes
are 0.95 to 0.98 mm (0.37 to 0.039 in)
long, and the thorax is 2.60 to 2.63 mm
(0.102 to 0.104 in) long. The head is
almost identical to S. richteri, but the
occipital excision is less crease-like and
the scapes are much narrower.
The red imported fire ants vary in size
from small to medium, indicating that
they are polymorphic. Workers range in
size from 2.4 to 6.0 mm (0.094 to 0.236
in). Formalized paraphrase The head is
0.66 to 1.41 mm (0.026 to 0.056 in) in
length and 0.65 to 1.43 mm (0.026 to
0.056 in) in width. The heads of the larger
workers (as well as the major workers)
measure 1.35 to 1.40 mm (0.053 to 0.055
in) and 1.39 to 1.42 mm (0.055 to 0.056
in) tall. The antenna scapes range from
0.96 to 1.02 mm (0.038 to 0.040 in) in
length, and the thoracic length is 1.70 to
1.73 mm (0.067 to 0.068 in).
Tiny to large mounds vary in size from 10 to 60 cm (3.9 to 23.6 in) in height and 46 cm (18
in) in diameter, with no visible entrances. Workers may only reach their nests through a
network of subterranean tunnels that protrude from the central field. Mounds are made of dirt
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and are aligned so that the long sections of the mound face the sun in the early morning and
before sunset. Mounds are usually oval in shape, with the long axis of the nest oriented north-
south. These ants also use a lot of energy on nest building and brood transport, which is
related to thermoregulation. Staff observe temperature trends of the mound rather than
relying on behavioural behaviours when transporting the brood to high-temperature
locations. Mounds within nests have a network of small horizontal tunnels connected by
subterranean shafts and nodes that enter grass roots 10 to 20 cm (3.9 to 7.9 in) below the
surface; these shafts and nodes link the mound
tunnels to the subterranean chambers. These
chambers are approximately 5 cm2 (0.77 inch2)
in size and attain depths ranging from 10 to 80
cm (3.9 to 31.5 in). In a single subterranean
chamber, the average number of ants is about
Figure 2 Way of Capturing Red Ant
There is no fact can be denied that food is basic functional need that a human being cannot
live without. In previous histories that show evolution of human beings has also shown the
clear facts and findings of transformation of food with the time. Before the urbanization
which is a core concept of immensely populated era now days is a restructured form of rural
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Famous Chef Gordon Ramsay visit the Baster Dist and tasted the Red Ant Chutney in 2010.
Moreover, these red ants are good for fever treatment and when tribal people suffering from
fever used to stand below the tree or arrange somehow to bitten with ant.
Finding of this article help the government of Chhattisgarh to may take additional steps to
market Red ant chutney as a niche tourism product on a national and international level. This
will assist to raise public awareness of its medicinal properties. Author suggests that Local
recipes like red ant chutney should be included in the restaurant’s menu so that it should be
tasted by every customer that visits to the place.
This research concludes that red ant chutney definitely has a potential and is going to benefit
the rural people as well as tribal communities resides in the Bastar district. It also has
potential to attract tourist since it has medicinal properties and health benefits; resulting in to
socio economic impact on the people of rural areas of Bastar.
Bastar DistrictAdministration,g.o.(n.d.). AboutBastarHistory.RetrievedfromBastarDistrict
Bhagwati,S.N. (1997). Ehics , moralityandpractice of medicine inancientIndia. Child'sNervous
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DeFoliart,G.(1989). The humanuse of insectsasfoodand as animal feed. Bulletin of the
EntomologicalSocietyof America (USA),35(1):22-35.
GK, V.(1990). Pestantsof India.InK. J. RobertK.VanderMeer, Applied Myrmecology— A World
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LONG, A.( 1901). RED ANTSASAN ARTICLEOF FOOD. Bombay NationalHistory Society,Journal,536.
Ministryof Environment,F.a.(2016). Draftof Disttrict Survey Report, Bastar. NEW DELHI:
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PANDEY,S. G. (1993). Madhya pradeshdistrictGazetteer, BASTAR. BHOPAL: State advisoryboardfor
districtgazetteer,Madhya pradesh,GAZETTEER OF INDIA.
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