Of birds and bees and gas laws!

Many years ago, my younger daughter – about ten years old, came up with the inevitable question that makes all parents squirm and hem and haw in turn: “Amma, where do babies come from?” With one older daughter, I was prepared for the birds and bees talk and so with pictures and all, gave it a shot. Many exclamations of horror followed!

In the days that followed, it turned out that I was the only mom in her class to have had “the talk” so far and so I was besieged with small slips of paper every evening – K would have been handed over a slip by one of her classmates with the injunction to “ask your mother”! Hilarious questions – some of them – for which I had to excuse myself, disappear into the bathroom for a good laugh, so as to avoid hurting daughter’s feelings!

About a year later, they knew a lot more – or so they thought! I bumped into K’s Physics teacher at a dinner and he told me he’d never forget her – not for her prowess in Physics but for other reasons!

K, in class one day, was, as usual sitting in the last bench and not paying attention – playing noughts and crosses with her neighbour while a few words of Physics occasionally made it past her eardrums.

The teacher calls her up: “K…, do you have any idea what we are talking about?”

She has a vague idea that whatever class had been about had something to do with gases and laws and says so.  

“So tell me about Gay-Lussac’s law” says the teacher. ( The law has to do with volumes of gases after a chemical reaction).

“Yeah, you know!” she says.

“Yes, I do but what do you know?” he asks.

“Well, you know, he… (swinging her arms about) he… swung both ways!”

Well, do I need to tell you why my hair turned grey before I managed to get her to pass her tenth standard Physics exam?!

All that talk of gas – let’s make something which is supposed to be as gassy as it is delicious – the uniquely Hyderabadi dessert…


  • Dried apricots (the Indian variety, not the golden variety which is too sour) – 2 cups
  • Fresh cream to serve
  • Powdered sugar – 2 tbsp

Soak the apricots in 2 cups water for about 5-6 hours or overnight. Remove the seeds with your fingers. Pressure cook the apricots for 2 whistles (or stew for about 25 minutes) and simmer for 5 minutes before switching off. 

Mash with a ladle or a potato masher till you get a very knobbly puree with lumps of apricot. Let cool and ladle into bowls. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and spoon over.

Do not discard the seeds. The seeds can be cracked open with a stone pestle to get at the almond-y nut inside. These can be crushed slightly and served over the qubani for a different texture – i personally like mine smooth.

Even the shell of the seeds can be washed again, dried and powdered in the mixer and added to sandalwood powder to give a fantastic face scrub.

(Pic courtesy: Internet)