6 Ways Red Ants Are Consumed All Over The World

Just a few days ago, Odisha’s red ant chutney earned a GI tag; the Kai chutney from Mayurbhanj is made with red weaver ants commonly found in the Similipal forests. It is made by grinding a blend of salt, ginger, garlic, and chillies. The chutney also has nutritional benefits as it helps in getting rid of flu, common cold, and whooping cough and is often used to make healing medicine by some tribal communities.

But did you know red ants are also a global delicacy, consumed around the world? Since it's found in several parts of the world, many communities cook it and consume it. From the night markets of Asia to the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, red ants are a part of several food traditions. Let's have a look at some of the noteworthy ones


In Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Thailand and Cambodia, red ants play a significant role in traditional cuisine. One of the most renowned dishes featuring red ants is "Maeng Mun," a Thai salad that incorporates a mix of red ant eggs, young bamboo shoots, and a variety of herbs and spices. The unique tanginess of the ants adds a distinct dimension to the dish, creating a sensory experience that is both bold and refreshing.


In Vietnam, the Mường ethnic group has long embraced red ants as a culinary delicacy. Moi is a traditional dish prepared by mixing red ant eggs with various herbs, creating a flavourful and aromatic dish that showcases the rich biodiversity of the region. The subtle crunchiness of the ant is their biggest USP as they add a truly unique texture to the dish


In sub-Saharan Africa, red ants are commonly featured in traditional dishes, providing a protein-rich supplement to local diets. In Botswana, for instance, red ant stews are a popular choice among the indigenous communities. The ants are harvested, cleaned, and then cooked with a medley of local spices, creating a hearty and nutritious dish that reflects the resourcefulness of the people in utilizing the natural abundance around them.

In East Africa, specifically in Tanzania, a unique red ant delicacy known as "Sisaluke” is quite popular. The dish involves frying red ants until they become crispy, and they are then mixed with groundnuts, adding a nutty flavour to the ensemble. 

The Amazon

In the Amazon rainforest, indigenous communities have been incorporating red ants into their culinary traditions for centuries. The "Hormigas Culonas" or big-bottomed ants are a delicacy among the locals in Colombia. These large red ants are often toasted and salted before being consumed as a snack, providing a unique combination of savoury and earthy flavours.


The traditional dish "Zarajo" from Ecuador features red ants as a key ingredient. Prepared by wrapping banana leaves around a mixture of ant eggs, vegetables, and spices, Zarajo is then roasted until the flavours meld into a savoury and aromatic delight. This dish not only showcases the cultural significance of red ants in Amazonian cuisine but also highlights the sustainable practices employed by indigenous communities.


In Central Mexico, red ant larvae, are referred to as the “caviar of the Aztecs.” They have been consumed by indigenous communities in Mexico since pre-Columbian times. The ancient Aztecs are known to have relished these ant eggs as a delicacy. The ant larvae are typically harvested from the roots of the agave plant. These larvae belong to a specific ant species, Liometopum apiculatum, are carefully collected during the early months of the rainy season when the ants are actively reproducing.

When cooked, harvested ant eggs are thoroughly cleaned to remove any impurities. They are then lightly sautéed with butter or oil, garlic, and sometimes spices.