FOR THE SAMBAL, warm the oil in a heavy-based saucepan on a medium-low heat.
Add onions and salt and cook for about 10-15 minutes until softened.
Add garlic and ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add chilli powder, cloves and cardamom and continue for another 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the onions are glossy.
FOR THE SPICE MIX, lightly toast spices in a dry pan over a medium heat until fragrant, then finely grind in a mortar.
FOR THE CURRY, warm oil in a heavy- based saucepan on a medium heat. Add onion and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.
Add garlic and chilli and continue for a further 5 minutes before adding lemongrass and ground spices and cooking for another 5 minutes.
Add chicken, cooking for 2-3 minutes to coat in the spices. Add curry leaves, tamarind and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Add coconut cream and bring to a simmer, being careful not to let the mixture boil.
Remove curry from the heat, cover and stand for 10 minutes.
Add lime juice to taste. Serve with the spicy sambal and steamed rice.