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I found some ratanjot powder in a local Indian food shop and bought it out of curiosity. Only later did I google it to find out it is a natural colourant from the bark of a tree, used to give Rogan Josh and Tandoori dishes their signature red hue. I'm planning to make one of those dishes and thought, as my first post here on eGullet, that I'd ask other members if they have any ideas on:

  • How to use it in the recipe, including amounts
  • If it is completely safe, ie. non-toxic, as my wife is pregnant

Naturally, we have all become wary of adding things to recipes simply to change the colour!


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Ratanjot is known in English as alkanet. I did a quick look in a herbal and could not find any cautions against pregnant women using it, but you may want to check with your doctor.

In terms of how much you will need for a dish, I don't think you will need a huge amount. Do you have pieces of the root or powder? I'm thinking no more than 1/2-1 teaspoon of the powder for a kilo of meat, but I would recommend googling some recipes. Remember that kashmiri chillies also contribute to the strong red colouring. These chillies make a powder that is more like paprika than chilli powder and have a bright red colour.

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Thanks for your reply. I think you're right about amounts (I have the powder) and I'll only add it after the kashmiri chillies to see how red they make the meat. As I live near Southall in London and my wife is Indian, we have no shortage of access to obscure products and ingredients. What I do need more of is the time to cook them and hopefully one good BBQ-ing day to make some nice tandoori chicken!

Thanks again.

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