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I am planning to make Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings) for a friend's party. Because she is vegatarian I'd like to make one set of vegetable dumplings and one set of conventional dumplings. To make it easy to tell these apart I'd like to color the dough for one of them.

Can you suggest me a simple way to color the dough of the dumplings? The dough for Jiaozi is simply made from water and flour. I am mostly interested in ways to color the dough that use "natural" integredients as she does not really like artificial stuff. Also, what is the traditional Chinese way to color dough?

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What about just making different shapes? – Jefromi Apr 16 '13 at 5:06
@Jefromi I'm not skilled enough to make shapes that are distinct enough. Also, I fear the guests may not be able to tell apart the shapes and accidentially eat the wrong ones. – FUZxxl Apr 16 '13 at 5:09
related to… – rumtscho Apr 16 '13 at 9:51
While I agree with Jefromi that you could do different shapes, if that is not going to work for you, just serve them on differently colored or shaped platters, perhaps with a small sign telling your guests which is which. I find this is very effective. You don't have to color the food objects themselves; vegetarians are highly motivated not to eat the meat dumplings or buns or whatever.... I find the larger problem is sometimes making sure everyone doesn't eat up all of the vegetarian option. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 16 '13 at 10:48
Yup, no matter how clearly you mark things, if you're making comparable vegetarian and meat options, you pretty much have to make enough vegetarian stuff for everyone. – Jefromi Apr 17 '13 at 2:59

You could add chopped fresh herbs to the dough. I'm not familiar with Jiaozi to know how much it would affect the texture, but its common in pasta dough. If you chop it fine enough, it should bleed quite a bit of green color into the dough.

I don't know any particularly traditional food coloring methods, but I do know that tea is often used in place of water to change the color and taste of certain dishes (e.g. tea eggs). However, I doubt that is a flavor you really want to introduce into the dumpling dough.

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As it's flour and water, you could likely use coloring used in Italian pastas, although most will impart some flavor of their own:

  • green : spinach: cooked, strain some, run through a food processor, then strain again. Add back the spinach liquid in place of water for extra flavor.

  • red : tomato paste or beets.

  • black : squid ink (requires having a specialty store near you).

Other common colorants:

  • yellow : turmeric (or egg yolks for the non-vegetarian one, but this'll also change the characteristics of the dough)

If you have the time, and want to be sure that they'll be obvious in low-light conditions, you can even make them striped

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For Qingming Festival, Chinese will eat a vegetarian dumpling called "艾饺", pronounced: /aɪ tɕja/. This is easily distinguishable from other dumplings due to their vivid green color, see Baidu Baike, which comes from the ingredient 艾草, a variety of mugwort grown in China.

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What kind of herbs do you suggest for that purpose? – FUZxxl Apr 17 '13 at 12:39

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