When we think about insects being a part of our diet, the first thing that comes to our mind is Asian cuisine. In countries like Singapore, China, Thailand, Japan, etc. insects are cooked and eaten by the locals. Some countries even consider them as delicacies.
Indians almost barf at the thought of eating insects. But guess what, insects are a part of traditional cooking in certain parts of India.
This tribal dish comes from a place called Bastar in Chhattisgarh. The tribal community here is known to be resourceful and have one heck of a cuisine to offer. However, there is one particular dish that they are known for and you need to be really adventurous to try it.
They make a chutney called Chaprah which is made by grinding red ants and their eggs with a few spices! And these are no ordinary ants. This particular species of red ants are very hostile and if they bite you, you are definitely going to cry.
The best way to source these ants is to locate a nest. But these ants are not borrowers. Their nests are located on some of the highest branches of trees. The tribesmen climb these trees to get these nests with their bare hands!
The key to making a good Chaprah is to the perfect egg to ant ratio. Eggs and ants are ground with tools made of stone. the goop is allowed to dry and is then mixed with tomatoes, coriander, garlic and salt. After carefully blending all of these ingredients, you get a bright orange coloured chutney.
Chaprah is really sharp in terms of flavours. The spice and tanginess of the chutney are so intense that it almost seems as if ants are biting your tongue gently. The locals seem to enjoy the chutney with a glass of chilled beer.
Apart from being super spicy, the chutney also has a lot of medicinal properties. The eggs contain formic acid which helps in combating bacterial infections in the digestive system. In fact, it is the formic acid that gives the chutney its spicy flavour. The crunchy-crushed ants have a lot of protein, calcium and zinc.
The tribal people of Chhattisgarh love sharing this delicacy with people and have started packing the chutney in Sal leaves. These packets are sold at tourist hotspots in the area. So if you are ever in the area, make sure you try Chaprah!