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Wash the rice a couple of times in cold running water, then leave to soak while you make the curry. Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a deep frying pan, and fry the onion for 10 mins until soft, but not turning golden.
Add the garlic and fry for 1 min, then tip in the turmeric, cumin, garam masala and chilli powder, and toast for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the coconut milk and chickpeas. Simmer for 15 mins until the sauce has reduced slightly.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining ½ tbsp oil in a small pan with the cloves, cinnamon and a pinch of turmeric. Stir until the mixture smells fragrant. Drain the rice and add to the spices, stirring well to coat in the oil. Pour in 600ml boiling water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Add a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 10 mins, without removing the lid.
About 5 mins before the end of the curry’s cooking time, stir in the spinach and break it up with a wooden spoon as it defrosts. Season well. Add the tamarind or lime juice to balance the sweetness of the curry. Serve in bowls with the fragrant, steaming rice, removing the large spices as you serve. Top with a pinch of the desiccated coconut, if using.