Bastar's Chapda Chutney / Red Ant Chutney

Chhatisgarh tribal chapada chutney
India is known for its traditional unconventional dishes which tribes and local communities enjoy in all its states. Two famous tribal food items of Chhattisgarh's Bastar--Chapda chutney and Dona Pudga--have made it to a renowned international food menu. World famous British Chef, Borden Ramsay, has added this Chapda / Chaprah Chutney (of Chhattisgarh) in his favorite list and termed it as the world's best chutney. It is considered as good source of Formic acid, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin B-12 and keeps the heart and eye healthy. Generally, you will not find any traditional tribal people of Chattisgarh wearing spectacles and they can easily do their all work in night also. Chaprah means basket made from leaf and Chutney is a type of Indian jam which consist of traditional spices, salt etc. The reasoning behind why this chutney is indigenous to Chhattisgarh is because red ants are found in abundance in the jungles of Bastar.
Tribes selling chapada chutney in bastar

Here leaf basket refers to the nest of red ants. Red ants are found in abundance in sal wood / mango forests of Chhattisgarh during summer. The red ant build the nest by joining small leaves or by folding bigger leave high on the tree inside the forest region. They lag the eggs inside those clusters. They are more aggressive than most native species, so have pushed many species away from their local habitat.

red ant nest on tree, Tribal food, red ant chutney, tribal jam

Tiny creature, Red ants are known for their bite which can leave you squirming in pain. Red ants are collected from the nests along with the eggs laid by them and are mashed and dried. After that Chapra Chutney is prepared by mixing tomatoes, garlic, ginger, chili, pudina and salt to create fine paste.

Chapada Tribal Chutney Grinding in home

Once it is ready, they place it in a handmade mini basket (of sal leaves) and sell at market. red ant contains high level of formic acid, protein and tribes put this virtue to good use. It has huge medicinal value and also good for keeping diseases at bay. Tribes believe that if somebody is down with normal fever, they can sit under a tree so that red ant can bite them and fever will be cured.

Wild Forest Food of India
Image courtesy: Wild food diaries