Alkanet root, better known as Ratan Jot, is traditionally used to add colour to Indian food. It is the original natural food colouring that gives the famous Kashmiri dish Rogan Josh its signature red colour.
Kashmiri Pandits use a dried herb called Ratan Jot to add a pleasing red colour to their dishes. This spice was originally used in many much-loved Indian dishes such as Rogan Josh and Tandoori Chicken. It is an herb that one rarely comes across now, after the advent of synthetic food colours. Along with Kashmiri chilies which are red and appear flaming hot in appearance but lack pungency, Ratan Jot provides many Kashmiri and Punjabi dishes their dashing good looks!
Alkanet root is soluble in alcohol, ether and oils, but is insoluble in water. Therefore, fry approximately a teaspoonful of Ratan Jot in 2-3 tablespoons of warm oil (ghee is a better option for superior flavour). When the liquid turns a deep red, strain it using a metal sieve, keeping the oil and discarding the Ratan Jot. This oil or ghee will turn your curries a natural flaming red, without the heat of course!