1jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded, deribbed, and roughly chopped
¼large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2clovesgarlic, roughly chopped
2tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
½teaspoonfine sea salt
1 ¾cupswater, divided
1 ½cupslong-grain brown rice, preferably basmati, rinsed
Chickpea Tikka Masala
1tablespoongrated or minced fresh ginger
3clovesgarlic, pressed or minced
1 ½teaspoonsground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper(optional, if you like some heat)
1box(28 ounces) whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1tablespoonextra-virgin olive oil
¾large yellow onion, finely chopped
½teaspoonfine sea salt
1can(15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
¾cupcanned coconut milk, or more if needed
½cupchopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
To prepare the green rice: In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, jalapeño, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, and ½ cup of the water. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan, reserving the food processor or blender bowl for later.
Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups water to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook on a low simmer until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 40 minutes. There will be a layer of green on top, so you’ll need to take off the lid and check underneath with a fork to be sure it’s done. (If the rice has absorbed all of the moisture but is still a little crunchy, add a couple more tablespoons of water and cook for a few minutes longer.) Once the rice is done, remove the pot from the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, to prepare the chickpea tikka masala: The tikka masala comes together quickly, so before you get started, prepare the ginger and garlic and place in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine all of the ground spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and cayenne, if using). Place both bowls near the stove so they are handy.
Rinse out the food processor or blender bowl. Pour the tomatoes and their liquid into the food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
In a large, nonreactive skillet or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and salt. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the puréed tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, and cilantro. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork, stirring the green on top back into the rice, and season with additional salt if necessary (I always need at least ¼ teaspoon more). Season the tomato mixture with additional salt until the flavors really sing (again, I always need at least ¼ teaspoon more). If necessary, add another splash of coconut milk to mellow the spices.
To serve, spoon the rice into individual bowls and top with the chickpea masala. Finish the bowls with a light sprinkle of chopped cilantro. If you have leftovers, store the rice and masala separately. Leftover masala is also great with warm whole-grain naan.
Tip: A “nonreactive” skillet is one that will not react with acid, such as stainless steel, enamel-coated (like Le Creuset), or one with a quality nonstick surface. Don’t use your cast iron skillet, since the acidity in the tomatoes can eat away at the seasoned surface that you’ve worked so hard to maintain