About Deema Spice

Deema's Sri Lankan Curry Spices consists of our own unique blend curry spices so you can enjoy the delicious taste of a home-cooked, heart warming Sri Lankan curry.

This one blend is ideal for meat, fish, prawns or vegetable curries. Enjoy the recipes in this blog and in the pack. If you can't find Deema's Sri Lankan Curry Spices in a shop near you, please email: deemaspice@gmail.com and we will help get you one. Why not visit us on facebook as well.

Buy two packs for £6.

One pack cooks two curries for two people. Please note that though there are no nuts in the blend, it is made in a nut lover’s kitchen. It is gluten free, as far as we are aware.

For just £8 each, our Christmas gift bags include 2 packs of Deema's Sri Lankan Curry Spices in a lovely re-useable just bag and a special recipe card for making curry with turkey leftover and the price includes postage but not the holly!And if you pre-order 2 gift bags, the price is £15. Order today!

Thanks for the great product artwork and design from Megan Lomax at Rubbaglove & RRDCreative.

All about Deema


Deemathi de Silva was born in Archikande, Sri Lanka on June 4th 1935.  She was called Deema by everybody.
Archikande is a little village about 2 miles inland from the coast of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka. Deema's dad was a mastercraftsman. He also owned cinnamon plantations. Deema was the second last of 13 children.
She used to tell me that she didn't own shoes till she was a teenager. That she used to go to school in a bullock cart. One of her favourite tales was how one of her aunts got eaten by a crocodile when she washing clothes in the stream.
Deema went to boarding school in Colombo or near Colombo. She talked about a teacher there who was an English woman and who went to the loo to fart. She became a teacher and lived with her older sister in Colombo. My mum would tell me about how she would buy beautiful cotton sarees with her salary.
She had an arranged marriage. Well, she did know my dad or rather of him. His sisters went to the same school as she did. 
My mum got married in her sister's house. She wore a white lace saree and a blouse she made herself. My father worked and lived in Singapore. So my mum who had never travelled in her life went to live in Singapore. She lived there for nearly 30 years.
My mum didn't work in Singapore. She looked after my dad, my brother, me, my father's father till he died in 1972, the dog and cat. Well cats, we had lots of them through the years.
When I left home and my brother went to the army, my mum found herself free. She started teaching ladies that lunched Sri Lankan cooking. She would cook in their homes or at ours. She'd charge them and have joy spending her earnings. It was like buying beautiful cotton sarees again, she'd say.
At this point in Singapore, people became wealthy and having a maid was a big thing. Maids came in by plane loads from Sri Lanka. Maids that committed suicide as their culturally insenstive new bosses made them cut their long plaits which is a sign of being a woman and beauty, because they had never seen a washing machine and didn't know how to work one, that they love to talk to people from their same village. My mum became their saviour. She would work with the police to help translate for them when many of these cases came to court or the stations. She was featured in the Straits Times - singapore's largest newspaper. She was interviewed for magazines. She won awards for her tireless work trying to help these poor maids. 
Then father retired and they went back to live right next door to where she was born. Fairfield, Arachikande, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. Surrounded by padi fields, a garden filled with coconut trees, coffee bushes mango trees and shoeflowers. You could hear birds singing throughout the day and the see the stars in all their glory at night. My father was in paradise. My mother became depressed. She had become a city girl and this was too cut off for her.
The next few years till she died were not happy ones for my mum even though she was in her beloved Sri Lanka. She also stopped being the mum, woman we all knew. But that was only a few years of her life which we shall now forget.
My mum was the lady that would speak to anyone. She loved to talk. She was also like her father - ver crafty. Mum rehupholstered their teak sitting room furniture all by herself. Admittedly, she said she wish she hadn't been cheap and bought the poo coloured material which was cheaper than the blue but it looked very professional.  
She crocheted. I am wearing the scarf she made when she visited me in Edinburgh.  
On her 25th wedding anniversary she cooked everything herself for the 80 people that came. She made all sorts of things - I wasn't there. But I am told there was savoury rice and 4 different types of curry, her famous meatloaf... and I can't remember what else now. She separated the presents she got into silver plated and real silver. From then on, she would always refer to some people as the silver plated ones.
Though she was a great cook she never got quanities right. Her cooking was always estimated, a pinch here and a pinch there. She would look at whatever she had served up and say - yes that will feed 8 people tonight. But invariably, my brother and I would be told - FHB ie Family hold back. We were not allowed to eat till all the guests had served themselves as actually there wasn't enough. My father never got told that.
She also made the most amazing cakes. All shapes and sizes. She was a whiz in the kitchen. I never learnt from her - my cakes are a total disaster and I have only learnt to cook in the last 10 years or so.
So I know that were ever she is now, she will be tsking and shaking her head and telling anyone that would listen. That daughter of mine - she is full of ideas but she cannot make curry so thank god she married that Englishman.

Style & Deema

When I last saw my mother in Singapore, she wore a tatty, shapless old brown batik dress.. Her hair was chopped and white. She carried no bag and wore blue plastic flip flops.

Once,  my mother used to sew. She cut her own patterns. She embroidered hankies, crocheted sweaters. She even upholstered our sofa. She was that good.

She was thrifty too. So it wasn’t expensive material  she used. Or she’d figure a way to make two blouses by cutting on the bias. But it never looked bad. It looked stylish.

My mother loved the fashion of the late 60s. The boat necks, the cut in sleeves. So did her circle of friends and relatives, even in the 1980s. But it didn’t look odd when she wore a boat necked blouse. It looked good.

Actually, you may gather, she was oblivious to the current trends.  So I was as well when I was younger. Then all my friends talked about nothing else, and it didn’t help going to an all girls school. But because we didn’t have money mother made my clothes. She followed the patterns and styles from magazines that I showed her., My fashion following friends wanted to borrow them.

Mostly my mum used to wear sarees on occasions. She of course made her own blouses and they were always different from all the other ladies who wore boring ones with sleeves and v-necks. Mother’s were inevitably sleeveless and with interesting necklines. She used to also make her own slips too and she’d add her own crocheted lace to the end of it. 

My mum never wore make up other than lipstick.  Her favourite perfume was Blue grass from Estee Lauder. My brother and I still buy it for her.

When she was going out she would put up her hair, use a hairpiece – a bun made of false hair which she used to call ‘her girlfriend’ and spray on clouds of hairspray. She went grey in her early 40s and only been to a hair salon twice in her life. She dyed her hair at home.

She would not wear high heels as she was already taller than my father, which was bad enough.   I don’t think she ever wore high heels in her life. I must ask her about that. I, on the other hand,  have always had a yearning for high heels. I  used to squeeze my size 5s into my aunts size 3 shoes and totter about. I even bought a pair of heels from the school jumble. Today, 30 years later, I can still feel the thrill of bringing the shoes home. They were electric blue and didn’t match anything I owned. I wore it for a party in the house that weekend. One of the heels got stuck in the garden and came off the shoe. I cried the whole evening.

My mother had home clothes, going out clothes and party clothes. Party clothes were silk kangipuram sarees.  We spent hours in saree shops looking for simple striking designs, which were the one offs. The ones most people would not buy as they were not ‘showy’ enough.  Most women bought sarees that had lots of gold on them. My mother bought t ones, with had no gold, but with beautifully designed silk. She carried them off with grace and style that earned her lots of compliments, Going out clothes were tailored trousers and silk long sleeved tops. Stay at home clothes were the old going out clothes.

She loved jewellery. But again she liked to keep things simple. She married into a jewellers’ so she did have diamonds and pearls and a fair amount of jewellery. But she never wore garish things or lots of it. In fact, people used to think my parents were tight. For instance, my wedding necklace was very simple – it looked like expensive costume jewellery. It was my mother’s choice  - a delicate necklace with small diamonds set in flowers. It didn’t cost as much as wedding necklaces ‘should’ do but my mother said we were not ‘showy’ people. It is a very stylish necklace that I now wear with my office suits.

It also suited her wedding saree that I wore for my wedding too. It was an off white heavy lace saree. She was very thin when she was married and I could not fit into her blouse. So I had it unpicked and re-made. My mother was appalled. I had not realised that her blouse was buttoned at the back and not in the front as most saree blouses are. I should have known. My mother took it back from the tailors and re-made it for me. It fitted much better.

My mother has a thing about bags. I have got it too. She had all sorts of bags. Larges ones, small ones, clutch (her favourite), sling ones but never over the body sort. They were not right. And of course they too were divided into everyday, going out and occasion bags. Choosing the right occasion bag was always a dilema. Not that she had anything except a hanky and her lipstick to put in it. But how did it look with the saree. It didn’t have to match. That was not important. It had to ‘look’ right when you carrying it with your arms hanging down.

My mother loved lots of colours but she loved white and cream the most. She hated brown and only wore black trousers, never black tops. She can’t understand why I wear only black. I tell her that I am fat. I wore a candy coloured striped dressed when I saw her last. Her only comment on my clothes that time was to say that was very pretty. It looked like a dress she would have made.

My mum now lives in a home. Wearing brown old dresses and cheap blue plastic shoes. She wears no jewellery and hasn’t smelt of blue grass for years. She refuses to dye her hair. She never goes out. She has ceased to care.
If she did care, she would have jet black bobbed hair. She would be wearing a cream tunic over dark brown tailored trousers, brown low-heeled sandals. She would be carrying a clutch bag. She would probably wear her string of pearls and her gold bangles. She would smell of blue grass. She would have going out clothes. 

She would be my stylish mother. Again.

1 comment:

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