This final 12 months’s eating development is perhaps known as “dichotomy.” On one hand, pandemic stress has had many people consoling ourselves with luscious, artery-clogging consolation meals like fried rooster, loaded pizzas and monster burgers draped in cheese and bacon.

However, extra of us have turn out to be aware of our well being and the significance of a nutritious weight-reduction plan. That has meant many people are consuming much more recent and native produce, lean proteins, plant-based dishes and good-for-us fat like avocado, nuts and seeds.

To that checklist of therapeutic components, Petaluma restaurateurs and brothers Harish Chowdhary and Kamal Chowdhary want to add spices and herbs. The brothers opened their new Ambrosia Indian Delicacies in the course of the COVID-19 ramp-up final 12 months and shortly gained a following for his or her smart message: seasonings add one other layer of healthiness to recipes, whereas boosting stunning flavors.

“If extra about spices, it’s actually fascinating how they really have an effect on your physique,” mentioned Harish, who imports staples from India together with turmeric, fenugreek leaves, star anise, clove, purple chiles and cassia bark. “Our grandfather was an Ayurvedic physician, and we realized plenty of nice issues from him that we use in our cooking. For instance, turmeric is among the greatest spices, with antioxidants that forestall coronary heart illness and arthritis.”

Certainly, Ambrosia’s lead chef Kamal provides many considerate recipes on his expansive menu, which showcases — alongside the classics — quite a few vegan and vegetarian dishes. Up to date, deeply seasoned selections embody a vegetable stir-fry brightened with pickled spices ($15); Chilean sea bass in fragrant Kerala coconut milk curry ($32) and ginger root-smoked paprika lamb stewed with tomatoes, garlic and a splash of cabernet sauvignon ($24).

Dishes additionally may be cooked with nut lotions as a substitute of dairy, and 90% of the restaurant’s recipes are gluten-free.

Conventional dishes stay in style — the bestselling rooster tikka masala is every part it needs to be, with tender breast meat soaked in a vibrant, soupy sauce of tomatoes, wealthy cream, onions and fenugreek ($18).

However then there’s the extra sudden grilled greens platter, a festive toss of al dente broccoli, cauliflower, potato and bell peppers tumbled with candy apple, pineapple, paneer, a rainbow of delicate spices and a drizzle of tangy bitter cream ($18).

Calling their idea “progressive Indian delicacies,” the Chowdhary brothers clearly take pleasure in including little twists to their fare, impressed by their rising up within the bountiful meals shed that’s the Bay Space. As soon as Kamal knew he needed to be a chef, he returned to the household’s homeland of India to earn his culinary diploma, targeted on the northern area’s specialties.

Meaning one starter, avocado bhel, is a fairly, molded mound of velvety avocado and crispy rice puffs laced with sweet-tart chutneys ($9). I prefer it with a facet of crispy-delicate papadum lentil crackers for dipping and swirling the chutneys into each chew ($3). One other interesting appetizer, the Malbar Coast-style prawns, get a fast sauté with loads of garlic, mustard seeds and coconut milk ($13), whereas a facet of olive naan provides a Mediterranean contact with its inexperienced olives, dry purple pepper and olive oil topping ($4).

For entrees, the Northern Indian murgh makhani hits the consolation spot with roasted pulled rooster in savory butter-tomato chile and creamy almond-cashew curries ($18). The thick sauce will get its silkiness and a slight sweetness from the nut cream, and that sweetness is probably not for everybody. I did prefer it greatest after I scooped in aromatic basmati rice for an earthier taste ($3).

The kitchen creates a unique type of chana lamb as nicely, veering from the extra typical stew. Right here, three petite chops are marinated with ginger, herbs and a flurry of spices, grilled after which smothered in entire, seasoned chickpeas, cooked smooth ($24). It’s an eat-with-your-fingers affair, and I used slabs of Kashmiri naan as a utensil, having fun with the bread’s dots of combined dried fruits and nuts complementing the delicate lamb taste ($5).

On the vegan facet, the chef presents loads of recent veggies and extra of these spices. Bhindi masala ($15) brings out fried (quite than sautéed) okra, merely paired with caramelized onions, fennel seeds and amchoor (dried mango powder). The sunshine fry provides pleasing crunch and is sweet dunked with a facet of spiced roti ($4).

The vegan meals have loads of followers, sufficient that Harish hopes to increase the once-a-month particular of a vegan sampler platter into an everyday merchandise when the restaurant can open past its present eat-outdoors-in-a-tent association. The massive wood board is a like a private buffet delivered to the desk, laden with particular person parts of some half-dozen entrees, plus breads, rice, colourful salads and chutneys.

Within the meantime, I’m very proud of the each day altering bento field, supplied 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday by Friday. For $18, we get combined salad, an appetizer, two vegetarian entrees, one other meat or veggie entree of our alternative, plain naan, rice and dessert. It’s an ample feast, and we are able to even customise to our desired spice degree.

Actually the Chowdhary brothers didn’t plan to open throughout a pandemic, however that they had signed the lease in 2019 for his or her area within the former Mike’s on the Crossroads burger location on Petaluma Boulevard North at Payran Avenue.

The timing introduced a double whammy. After opening their first restaurant Taj Grill in Vallejo in 2014, they deliberate to increase to a bigger market, discover extra modern fusion recipes and host occasions like stomach dancing and stay music.

“I used to be 24 years previous, and my brother was 20 once we opened Taj,” Harish mentioned. “That restaurant was our child, however sadly we’ve got to let it go due to pandemic. Oh man, COVID simply hit us actually badly as a result of we signed the Ambrosia lease and we had been renovating the area. However we didn’t have another choice apart from to open, as a result of we nonetheless should pay the payments it doesn’t matter what. I’m actually grateful for the neighborhood who has come out and helped us survive.”

The lads’s father, Sudershan Kumar, as soon as owned two eating places in San Francisco. Although he’s retired now, he jumped in to assist, too.

The staff is optimistic this new 12 months might be good, for diners eager to strive one thing totally different with wholesome, however soul-satisfying, dishes spiked with plenty of spices.

“Most of my shut mates stay in Sonoma County, and each time I visited them, they all the time took me out to Petaluma,” Harish mentioned. “I all the time questioned why. Then I noticed that Petaluma is a foodie city, however they didn’t have something like us on the town. So we crammed the hole.”

Carey Candy is a Sebastopol-based meals and restaurant author. Learn her restaurant opinions each different week in Sonoma Life. Contact her at carey@careysweet.com.

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