‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: 21 Spices speaks the language of satisfaction

Will Watts

Our next dining destination is one of my favorites in Southwest Florida, 21 Spices by Chef Asif. Not only is the restaurant near Marco Island, but its celebrity chief and restaurant namesake spent a decade as the executive chef of the Marco Island Hilton.

Things got off to an appetizing start with two amazing selections, the Aloo Chana Chaat ($10) and the Mazedaar samosa ($8). The first is a mix of potatoes, garbanzo beans and tamarind chutney. The latter, which is shaped like a large fortune cookie, features spiced potato with green peas served with tamarind-date chutney.

The Aloo Chana Chaat is a fresh take on a starter dish and was by far the healthiest of the two; but the standout dish for me was the samosas. So good!

Next up was the salad round. I picked the spicy shrimp and peanut mung salad ($15). It features shrimp, lightly spiced peanuts, sprouts, cilantro, lemon and olive oil. This is perhaps the best salad I’ve ever eaten from a restaurant and definitely in the top five dishes of all time from a restaurant, competing with appetizers, entrees and desserts. It looked like a piece of art and the taste was heavenly. You must try this dish!

My partner in dine picked the arugula and pear salad ($10), featuring cherry tomatoes and pear with a lemon honey vinaigrette. This salad earned high praise.

More:Best of January: Here are the top things we ate in SWFL

For his main entrée, he picked the Aloo Gobi ($18), featuring cauliflower, potatoes, green peas and ginger in a tomato concasse. It looks like a hearty stew. And it kind of feels that way when eating it. A perfectly-spiced comfort food.    

I chose the Nizam's Kofte ($20), which features vegetable and cheese dumplings simmered in a rich saffron reduction and is finished with lemon and coriander. The dumplings were as amazing as they sound. The lemon is not strong; I would describe it as delicate. My compliments to the chef.

All entrees are served with an amazing saffron basmati rice which is a perfect pairing. But honestly, this rice is delicious enough to eat on its own.

More:Hey Marco Island, looking for a place to eat?

We also grabbed a couple of naans. I had the garlic ($6) and my dining companion had the Peshwari dry fruit and nut ($7). We’ve both ate our fair share of naans, and these are fluffier than most. We expected the Peshwari to be a little sweeter, but it was a nice surprise that it wasn’t. The garlic is amazing. The only thing that could make it better? Perhaps some melted cheese?

And note, all but one of these dishes were meat free. And if you’re wondering, staff were wearing masks and patrons were socially distanced. There’s a huge dining room and loads of outside dining as well. And if you take it to go, like us, staff send you off with a cool bag.

Visit 21 Spices by Chef Asif today. You won’t be disappointed. Whether you’re a fan of Indian food, like me, or not, you’ll love these dishes that speak the language of satisfaction.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Fresh Mex and pizza too!

And:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Su’s Garden has the veggies and so much more

Also:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Variety is the spice of Mangoes

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If you go

21 Spices by Chef Asif

  • 4270 Tamiami Trail E #21, Naples
  • 239-919-8830
  • 21spicesdining.com