Mainak Debnath, Nadia: People of Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Paschim Medinipur and Jangalmahal are favorite food. This Kurkut is a type of ant egg. Called ‘Haw’ or ‘Haw’ in Saotali. This orange colored ant can be seen in the forests of Bankura, Purulia, all over Jharkhand and Odisha. These ants are quite alert and fast by nature. Sensing danger, the attacker comes back to chase in response. These ants can move up and down large trees at high speed. They live in the trunks of large trees by skillfully sewing leaves with leaves.
Also known as ‘weaver ant’ of ants team A type of silk is secreted from their larvae to nest in the mug, with that they wrap three or four leaves and sew them in the shape of a bag to make a house. This pouch is as good looking as it is sturdy. Their food is ripe fruit. Apart from this, they also collect food juice from termites and similar insects. Ecophylla collects honey from flowers in ant nests.
There are two types of division of labor in these ants. Through the skillful work of a group of ants, they play a key role in collecting food as well as in settlement expansion, they are called soldier ‘ecofilers’. And a group of ants who build nests, collect food, take care of queens and larvae are called workers ‘Ecophyla’. The queen of the ant colony stays inside their nest just like any other ant colony.
Before winter-monsoon, ants lay countless eggs that look like white rice on the high branches of trees. This ant egg chutney or kurkut chutney is very popular in Bankura-Purulia area. Kurkut has specific method of making chutney. Kurkut chutney is made by mixing raw chillies, mint leaves, a little onion, garlic pieces with raw mustard oil and salt as required. Many people like to eat this chutney wrapped in shawl leaves and burnt in fire. Many people say that this type of eating is more delicious. Many people like to eat mustard with this mixture.
According to a local doctor, “Apart from food, Kurkut has medicinal properties. Kurkut is rich in vitamin C, along with calcium. These two ingredients are very good for common cold and cough in children. People of the Shabar community believe that Kurkut broth is especially helpful in combating cold in winter. Those who grow up close to nature, nature provides them with the means of survival. Kurkut is an indigenous medicine. Various elements of the forest are also used as ingredients in various allopathic medicines including Ayurvedic. Forest dwellers or related residents collect all these on the way to the forest and sell them in the bazaar. Kurkut is sold in every market in Jangalmahal during winter. Many sell by ferrying from village to village. To the locals, Kurkut is not much different from rice and other regular grains. They buy this food as another favorite food.”
Kamal Fakir, a local resident, said, “Kurkut can be used in three ways – apart from food, Kurkut is also used as herbal medicine and fish food. Char can be made with kurkut while fishing. Kurkut is sold in the local market at Tk 200 to Tk 300 per kg. But the price of kurkut left in Durgapur, Asansol, Barasat, Dumdum areas is 400 to 600 taka per kg. Residents of Jangalmahal want to save nature and integrate this versatile utility ‘Kurkut’ into a direct financial stream. It is the hope of the residents of Jangalmahal that the market of ‘Kurkut’ will emerge as a recognized commodity with specific initiatives.
But in other districts including Nadia, these eggs are very popular as fishing bait, though not used for food. The slightly transparent egg becomes brighter when it falls into the water and is detected by fishes by a peculiar smell.”
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