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Is an Adivasi Chutney the Panacea to COVID-19?

Is an Adivasi Chutney the Panacea to COVID-19?
Chhattisgarh’s red ant chutney has been making waves,

Known as chaprah by adivasis, it has made its way to fame as celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s favourite chutney. It is yet to be proven if it can be a remedy for the coronavirus, though

OT Staff
January 22 , 2021
02 Min Read

Recently, Nayadhar Padhial, an engineer-researcher based out of Baripada, has proposed the use of an unusual chutney as a remedy to cure COVID-19. As per Padhial’s research, the chutney is rich in formic acid, protein, calcium, zinc, iron and Vitamin B12, making it an immunity booster paste with anti-bacterial properties.

The researcher has linked the idea of developing formulations out of the ingredients of this chutney, after observing the negligible prevalence of the coronavirus in tribal areas of the country. The Orissa High Court has left the abiding decision in this matter, to be taken within three months, by Ayush Ministry and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

While a red ant’s bite will leave you writhing in pain, these little creatures make for a sought-after delicacy in certain regions and indigenous populations.

In some of India’s eastern states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, the red ant is an essential ingredient for a chutney known by different names like ‘demta’ in Jharkhand’s Chaibasa and ‘chaprah’ or ‘chapda’ in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar. Adivasis in several Indian states have been using this delicacy to treat flu, cough, common cold, fatigue and breathing difficulties. 

Extremely spicy and hot, the red ant chutney is a mixture of crushed red ants, their eggs, tomatoes, coriander, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt and a pinch of sugar. Some alternative recipes also suggest adding onion and coconut powder to the paste. This delicacy is sold in the local markets of these regions both as a dried mixture and as a chutney paste. The ants are collected from the local forests by harvesters, and are crushed and dried, then ground up using a mortar and pestle, before other ingredients and seasoning is added to it. 

Dishes made with insects are common in many areas of the world where indigenous people live. And they have been increasingly making their way into the 'superfoods' realm and to restaurant tables. 

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is one of the people who have been raving about the red ant chutney.

Ramsay visited India in 2010, while he was working on a documentary regarding Indian cuisine. On the suggestion of his assistant, he visited Bastar and stayed at Manjhipal. The ‘chaprah’ chutney was one of the things that registered on his tastebuds. 


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