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Four of the best spots for Indian takeout

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The last time I dined at Yeti in Glen Ellen, it was with a merry group celebrating a dear friend’s birthday. We feasted on excellent Indian food and giggled over silly jokes at a cozy table on the quaint wood patio overlooking Sonoma Creek.

The last time I dined at Yeti in Santa Rosa, it was with a boisterous gang of friends celebrating life. We shared outrageous stories and laughter amid an ornate décor of tapestry-trimmed chairs, marble and gold knickknacks and fresh flowers all around.

Sigh. These days, the only Indian food I get is tucked into takeout boxes, which I eat quietly on my couch, surrounded by my Doberman, Rhodesian ridgeback, Maltipoo and Chihuahua pups (ever hopeful for a bite, ever drooling).

In the big scheme of things, however, this hardly equals suffering. Wine Country boasts a glittering array of top-notch Indian restaurants, all crafting deeply spiced, fragrantly seasoned, toe-curling-delicious South Asian specialties. The dishes travel perfectly for takeout and, if anything, become richer and more complex as they rest and meld flavors on their short journey to my home. The meals also reheat easily if I order too much, which I usually do, since the food is so good.

Plus, dining this way is so easy. I simply hop in the car and pull up for curbside service. I always order and pick up directly now after learning how much corporate delivery companies can charge restaurants to process online to-go orders and coordinate delivery, taking up to 40% of the eatery’s revenue.

So check out the menus and start the car. If you’re craving curry, naan and tikka masala, here are some of the most mouthwatering choices.

Yeti Restaurant

Chef-owner Narayan Somname has been wowing diners with his Indian-Nepalese cooking at his Glen Ellen restaurant since 2008. Then, in 2015, he opened a second location in Santa Rosa to equally eager crowds. Everything is homemade and riveting, from charcoal-fired tandoori salmon fillet brightened with annatto-hued paste, yogurt, garlic, ginger and Himalayan spices on a bed of onions, bell peppers and broccoli ($21.99) to silky chicken saag, a Punjab-style classic curry stocked with chopped fresh spinach, fenugreek, fennel, onions and garlic ($15.95).

Start with chicken momos, the lovely bright green flour dumplings stuffed with minced chicken and Himalayan spices, steamed Newari style and dunked in sweet-tart tamarind-mint sauce ($8.99).

I always get the dal makhani, too, for soothing lentils simmered overnight over glowing tandoori embers in a stew of onions, chile, ginger, cream and butter garnished with cilantro, tomatoes and bean sprouts ($9.99).

For extra heat, add a splash of Somname’s fiery chile sauce.

On the side, for sopping up every last drop of sauce, is superb butter-bathed naan that’s tandoor-baked golden and pliant ($2.99), plus fluffy steamed rice ($2.99).

There’s fancier cuisine here, too, featuring recipes not often found at local Indian restaurants.

I love the elegant Hyderabadi-style biryani ($20.95) of delicate long grain basmati rice cooked in ghee with sautéed onions, dried fruits and saffron, then tossed with prawns, onions, tomatoes, coconut gravy and a bit of basil.

I mix in dollops of raita (cucumber and yogurt kissed with pepper, coriander and cumin) and scoop it up with naan. It’s bliss.

The Santa Rosa location, meanwhile, impresses with lobster masala, a decadent presentation in velvety coconut cream gravy, dressed in fresh basil leaves, tomatoes, a dash of red chili and white wine ($35.99).

My go-to dessert (to-go, these days) is always the rasmalai, the soft cheese paneer dumplings immersed in sweetened creamy milk, then dotted with citrusy green cardamom and crunchy pistachios ($5.99).

Details: 190 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-521-9608. Also 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-996-9930, yeticuisine.com

Cumin Restaurant

As one of the area’s newest Indian restaurants, this gem from Dhiraj Kafle and Rak Thapa spans the flavors of India, Nepal and Tibet, with many unusual dishes and sauces.

Among signatures like chicken vindaloo of savory dark meat braised in hot and sour curry over roast potatoes ($13.99), the chefs emphasize plant-based recipes, too, sending out a great assortment of vegetarian and vegan delights like aloo gobi of crispy cauliflower and potatoes sautéed in a stew of tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and Indian herbs and spices ($13.99).

For all dishes, you choose the heat level, from mild to medium to hot, and the difference is notable.

Here’s my tip: Order dishes at various levels, and alternate bites between pleasant burn and tongue-coating gentleness.

My recent supper hop-skipped around, starting with samosas, the two flaky, lightly fried pastries stuffed with chunky potatoes, peas, ginger and garlic for drizzling in mild cilantro-tamarind sauce ($4.99). I also loaded up on momos, since these models are some of the best around.

They’re stuffed with varied goodies like minced mixed veggies ($7.99) or minced marinated chicken ($8.99) with lots of seasoning and superb sauces like hot chile garlic or achar, a beautiful blend of roasted tomato, cumin, mustard seeds, chiles and garlic.

With great apologies to my pet pygmy goats, I have to say the goat kadhai is excellent.

This recipe brings mild-flavored, tender wok-fried meat tossed with onion, green pepper, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, kadai masala (fennel, coriander, cumin and other spices) and Indian herbs ($15.99).

I also added basil pesto naan ($2.99) and an Indian twist on fried rice: basmati rice sizzled with chicken, fried onions, eggs and garlic with light, spicy Tibetan sauce ($14.99).

To finish, the north Indian gulab jamun is sticky joy, the mini donuts fried golden brown then draped in sugar syrup ($3.99).

Details: 170 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-771-8336, cuminsantarosa.com

Shangri-La Cafe & Grill

Inspired by cuisine from the Himalayas, this beloved casual café shines under the care of Nepalese-born chef-owner Meenakshi Sharma.

Since 2004, the little eatery has been a locals’ favorite for Sharma’s personal touch, family recipes and willingness to share secrets.

Savory, spicy kale saag ($7.99) is a bestseller, she says, but she still encourages home cooks to try making it themselves, since “it takes less than minute and a half to sauté the green with a little bit of oil, dried chile, spoonful of garlic and squeeze of soy sauce with a tablespoon of hot water.”

My dinner plans usually revolve around sumptuous chicken curry studded with earthy-sweet pumpkin chunks ($12.99, includes imported Himalayan basmati or brown rice); perfect, tangy spinach and cheese palak paneer ($12.99); and basil naan with a bit of butter ($3.99).

For dessert, it’s hard to resist the wonderful creation of sweet cinnamon naan ($3.99).

Details: 1706 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 707-793-0300, shangrila-cafe.com

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