Category Archives: Indian

Spicy Sour Chickpea Curry

Spicy Sour Chana Curry

Sometimes indecision can be a good thing. I entered the battle zone kitchen knowing only one thing: I wanted curry. Spicy? Tangy? Sour? Tomato based? Coconut milk based? All these questions flew through my mind as I assembled the curry vegetables. I quickly discovered that I had no tomatoes or coconut milk, so those options were out. But for flavour … I decided in the end to not make a decision. Thus, spicy sour chickpea curry was born!

The curry mixture is based off of this Spicy Squash Curry recipe that I’ve made in the past. The legume of choice was chickpeas for their meaty texture. The vegetables were inspired by my CSA of the week: eggplant, zucchini, the first cherry tomatoes and red peppers of the season, and swiss chard. I found some mushrooms in the fridge so they got added to the pot as well. The end result was better than I could have imagined, and exactly what I wanted! The curry is spicy from the hot peppers and chili powder, but it’s very tangy as well with both asafetida and amchoor (mango powder). The whole fenugreek and cumin seeds add depth, coriander for the ‘common’ curry binder, and turmeric to finish it off. The end result is a complex, unique flavour profile that is as spontaneous as the method of the recipe making! Definitely a crowd pleaser with its mixture of spicy and sour, and one that I will turn to time and time again the next time I am paralyzed by indecision. Enjoy!

Spicy Sour Chickpea Curry

*Note* It goes without saying that you can add or omit anything on this list to satisfy your own urges at the time. This is the version that I made, and it hit the spot! There is no substitution for mango powder in this recipe. It adds a unique tang to the dish, and is worth hunting out at an Indian market (my sample size has lasted me 2 years and counting). If absolutely necessary, I believe that 1 tbsp. of tamarind concentrate may result in the same tangy-sour notes, but this substitution is (as of yet) untested.

1 tbsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. fennel seeds

½ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. paprika

2 tsp. oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

pinch of asafetidia

½ tsp. fenugreek seeds

4 whole dried red chilis, to taste

¼ tsp. salt, to taste

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

 

1 medium eggplant, cut into ½” moons (approx. 4 cups)

1 large zucchini, cut into ½” moons (approx. 4 cups)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces (scant 1 cup)

3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 (19oz. cans chickpeas, or 1 cup dried chickpeas, pre-cooked)

1 bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped (approx. 4 cups)

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp. amchoor (mango powder)

 

Directions:

1) In a small bowl (or large measuring cup) mix together the ground coriander, fennel seed, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, and ¼ cup water to make a paste.

2) In large pot, heat oil on medium high. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida. Saute until cumin seeds begin to crack.

3) Add fenugreek seeds and red chilis. Stir.

4) Add the spice paste, salt, ginger, and ¼ cup water. Stir and sauté until fragrant, approx. 2min.

5) Add the eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. Stir, cover, and let steam until eggplant begins to soften, approx. 5min.

6) Add the bell pepper, chickpeas, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer until eggplant tender, approx. 20min. Add water as necessary to adjust for consistency. (I added about 8-10 cups total)

7) Add the swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, amchoor, and lemon juice. Stir, cover, and cook until greens bright green and slightly wilted. Adjust for seasonings.

8) Serve with rice and/or flatbread of choice.

 


Kala Chana

Kala Chana

Chickpeas are one of the unsung heroes of the legume world. (Lentils are the other). Not too terribly exciting, they demurely sit in many a pantry patiently waiting their turn. Often they are destined for hummus, other times in soups and stews. For those lucky few chickpeas, they are presented to the adventurous as besan, and maybe will end up being delicious socca or Burmese tofu. I have been known to make desserts out of them as well 🙂 These beans are taken for granted, often relegated to the sidelines. This doesn’t have to be the case! Enter Kala Chana, the venue for chickpeas to strut their stuff and shine.

Kala chana are actually black chickpeas, which are smaller and more robust than the more common garbanzo bean. I hunted them down in an Indian market, and immediately fell in love. Make no mistake – they’re still a chickpea, but with more texture and thus more presence. They also fool the eyes into thinking they’re more exotic than the garbanzo – think a black bean in garbanzo clothing! To truly appreciate this bean, I first set about finding a recipe that would really let it shine. Using the Internet, my standard Chana Masala recipe, and various other influences, I created this delicious Indian curry that is sure to satisfy all chickpea lovers out there. And convert all the ‘chickpea haters’. There’s more to the chickpea than hummus and a throw in!

This Kala Chana is a spicy Indian curry with a tomato puree base. I love using fresh tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, and onions and pureeing them first to create the curry sauce. I have also used canned tomatoes in the past, with fantastic results. The resulting puree is so fragrant you know it’ll be delicious. The tempering for this dish is cumin-seed based, with some asafoetida for sourness, coriander and turmeric for ‘curry spice’, and garam masala for a more savory taste. The green chilis and the red chili powder pack a punch, making the final product craveable. The besan (double chickpea action!) acts like a thickener, making the curry sauce have a bit more creaminess and ‘oomph’. I served it over greens, but you can be more traditional and serve it with rice and/or your flatbread of choice (Roti or naan make for great scooping vessels!). Hands down this is one of my favourite curry recipes, and one that I will keep going back to time and time again. All hail the chickpea!

 

Kala Chana

1 cup kala chana (dry) *Note: if you don’t have kala chana, substitute dried chickpeas. Just as tasty!

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 green chilis, chopped

1 tbsp. ginger, minced

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

⅛ tsp. asafoetida (hing)

1 tbsp. besan (chickpea flour)

1 tbsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. red chili powder

4 cups water + as needed

salt, to taste

fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions:

1) Soak kala chana overnight. Rinse and cook until al-dente.

2) In food processor, puree tomatoes, chilis, onion, and garlic.

3) In large pot heat oil on medium-high. Add cumin seeds and sauté until start to sizzle.

4) Add asafoetida and besan. Stir continuously and cook until besan light brown and toasted

5) Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir.

6) Add tomato puree. Stir and bring to a boil. Let cook until most moisture gone and starts to darken.

7) Add cooked kala chana, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, let simmer 20-30min.

8) Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and flatbread of choice.

 


Masala Two Ways: Edamame Masala and Jackfruit Masala

Edamame Masala: The edamame adds protein, and they look like precious gems nestled in the curry!

Edamame Masala: The edamame adds protein, and they look like precious gems nestled in the curry!

Jackfruit Masala: More exotic with the jackfruit, but just as delicious!

Jackfruit Masala: More exotic with the jackfruit, but just as delicious!

I am forever amazed and astounded at the sheer volume and variety of Indian curries. I tend to love the tomato-based, fiery curry versions and will only occasionally stray to the coconut-based. Tomato curries are generally from Northern India, while their coconut cousins tend to be from the South. One such tomato curry that recently piqued my interest is the Masala curry. I tried to find ‘rules’ as to what makes the Masala curry a ‘Masala’, but could find no general guidelines. Thus, I created two versions of a Masala – one with edamame (to replace the peas) and one with jackfruit (because experimenting with jackfruit is delicious! Cases in point: Thai Jackfruit Curry and Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et).

The recipe formula is below. For the Edamame Masala I used Edamame, and for the Jackfruit Masala I replaced the edamame with one 19oz. can young jackfruit (in brine). I also omitted the mushrooms, because I used the last of them in the Edamame Masala. Being an engineer, I did a side-by-side comparpison to evaluate the results. First, the flavour profile. As the base of the Masala did not change between the two, the final taste didn’t change as well. The spice mix is subtly spicy, but with a tangy kick at the end from the asofetida. The Sucanet takes the edge off the spice, but the curry doesn’t taste sweet at all – a relief to this spice lover! The garam masala adds a savoury element to the curry, and the veggies and greens soak up the flavour wonderfully. The real difference (obviously) is in the edamame/jackfruit. While I prefer the edamame for the protein profile, it’s the jackfruit version that really shines. The jackfruit and the eggplant lend some texture to the dish, and the jackfruit gets saturated with all that lovely spice during the simmer. The results of my taste test? I love them both! I leave it up to you to choose between the two – or even your own version! The curry sauce is worth making regardless of the added veggies, as a different tomato curry offering that is subtly spicy, tangy, and savoury – a delectable curry sure to please!

Masala Curry

1 (16oz.) bag frozen edamame, thawed (or 1 (19oz.) can young jackfruit (in brine), drained and cut into bite-sized pieces)

1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups diced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. red chili powder

1 tbsp. ginger, minced

½ tsp. ground coriander

2 green chilis, minced

1 tsp. canola oil

½ tsp. cumin seeds

Pinch of asafetida (hing)

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp. grounder coriander

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. Sucanet

1 lb. eggplant, cubed

1 green bell pepper, cubed

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 small zucchini, cut into ½ moons

4 cups greens, chiffonade

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

¼ tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1) In food processor, puree tomatoes, salt chili powder, ginger, ½ tsp. ground coriander, and green chilis

2) In large pot, heat oil on medium-high and add cumin seeds. Sauté until seeds begin to crack.

3) Add asafetida and bay leaves. Stir and sauté approx. 30s.

4) Add tomato puree and remaining spiced. Stir and bring to a simmer.

5) Add eggplant, edamame, and water to adjust for thickness. Simmer approx. 5 min.

6) Add bell pepper, mushrooms, and zucchini. Simmer until eggplant is tender, approx. 15min.

7) Add greens, cilantro, and garam masala. Stir and cover. Cook until greens bright green and wilted, approx. 2min.

8) Remove from heat and let sit covered approx. 2 min.

9) Serve with naan, roti, and/or rice.


Triple Daal Dals

Dal: Pigeon peas (whole), mung beans, green lentils Additional veggies: Kale

Dal: Pigeon peas (whole), mung beans, green lentils
Additional veggies: Kale (kept it simple!)

I have a bean addiction. No matter how much storage room I have (or lack thereof), if there’s a dried legume that I haven’t seen before I pick it up. The weirder the better. Similar to my belief that stews are better with greens, why use one kind of lentil in a daal when you can use two? Or three? Sometimes more is just more, but sometimes more is better. This is one of those times.

Through experimentation, I have come across some favourite lentil/bean combinations. With the appropriate tempering and additional veggies, you can have a whole-meal dinner that is flavourful, hearty, and guaranteed to be unique every time. I love experimenting with dals, and I don’t think I’ve made the same version twice. I do have my favourites however, and this is the guideline that I will present to you.

In a dal, the all mighty lentil is the star of the show. Resist the temptation to use chickpeas – those have their time and place. A dal is where the lentil can shine. There are many types, some of which you will be very familiar with, and some are quite odd. Here’s the list of what’s been simmering in my pot in the past:

– Green lentils: These are what I would call “standard” lentils. They keep their shape when cooked, and have infinite uses. One favourite is mujadara.

– Red lentils: Another “standard”, these disappear when cooked in a stew, and make the consistency thicker. A tricky way to get more protein!

– Mung beans: Whole mung beans are pretty green beads. They are quite small, and cook in about the same amount of time as green lentils. They have a stronger taste then green lentils, but still subtle.

– Urad dal: Whole urad dal are very small black lentils. I picked these up by mistake trying to make dosas. A tip: use split urad dal for dosas! Whole urad dal can be used like black Beluga lentils, which (ironically enough) I have never found in the grocery store.

– Toor dal: A recent acquisition, these are like red lentils and split urad dal. They cook quite quickly and add thickness to your dal. I can’t pick up a distinct taste for them, and as such I think they could be substituted with red lentils in a pinch.

– Pigeon peas: Whole pigeon peas are about the size of a green pea and grey. I picked up whole ones by accident – I wanted split pigeon peas. However, whole ones are delicious too! They have a much stronger flavour, one that is unique to the bean world. When you want a change from chickpeas but are still craving the chickpea texture, I’d use these. I used them in the sambar, and they are delicious.

(The terminology used here is what is on my package/labeling at the ethnic grocer. I am sure there are many names for these lentils. A good guide as to what they may be called to you can be found here: The Cook’s Thesaurus: Lentils.)

For the tempering, I generally try to stick to guidelines from multiple chefs, with the occasional creative mix. I have noticed these general rules of thumb, and thus far they have served me well!

1) If there is no cumin, then there is coriander. Often there is both.

2) If there are no mustard seeds, then cumin seeds are used

3) Asafetida (hing) and anchoor (mango powder) bring a lovely sourness to the dish. They are worth the hunt to find! Rarely used together, you just need a pinch of one or the other. If you don’t have any, you can substitute with lemon or lime juice at the end.

4) Curry leaves heighten the dish to a whole different level. You can have the same tempering but with the addition of curry leaves it’s a whole new dish. Unfortunately, you cannot substitute curry powder for this ingredient. While hunting for asafetida and anchoor, pick up some curry leaves. I got mine by asking the man behind the counter at an Indian grocery, and he cut a fresh branch for me – for $0.99! I have also found them at Asian grocery stores, beside the lime leaves and pandan.

5) Don’t be afraid to experiment, but write down what you try!

Dal: Mung beans, toor dal, and green lentils Additional veggies: Kale and carrot

Dal: Mung beans, toor dal, and green lentils
Additional veggies: Kale, eggplant, and zucchini

Here is my current favourite dal. As I mentioned above, feel free to mix and match the lentils – you just need a total of 1 cup dry when you’re done. Enjoy!

Triple Daal Dal

½ cup mung beans, rinsed
¼ cup toor dal
¼ cup green lentils
4 cups water (plus more if necessary)

Tempering
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
¼ tsp. asafoetida (hing)
1” piece fresh ginger, minced
⅓ cup onion, minced
1 large dried red chili, minced (or 3t. red pepper flakes, to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2t. white vinegar
2 tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Optional veggies:
greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, beans …

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat oil on medium. Add mustard seeds and sauté until they start to sputter (a lid is handy!)
2) Add asafoetida and curry leaves. Sauté ~30s.
3) Add onions and ginger. Sauté until onions are translucent, ~2-3min.
4) Add dried red chili, garlic, vinegar, and coriander. Sauté ~1min.
5) Add turmeric, tomato, and optional vegetables of choice. Stir, cover, and cook until tomatoes start to break down and get saucy.
6) Add all lentils and water. Mix, cover, and cook on medium-low for 20-30min, or until lentils are tender. Add water as necessary to adjust the gravy to your liking.
7) Adjust seasonings to taste. Add cilantro and optional greens. Cover and bring to a boil.
8) Turn off heat, stir, and serve with rice, roti, or naan.


Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry
This particular version highlights eggplant, asparagus, bell pepper, and spinach

Rarely a week goes by without a simmering pot of curry. This is my stand-by no-fail recipe, with infinite possibilities of vegetables, protein, and spicy level. The basic components are: tomato based curry sauce, meaty eggplant simmered in the sauce, greens for the eggplant to rest between, and a wide assortment of vegetables – whatever you have on hand that day and/or need to use before they go bad. The veggie selection is easily changed to reflect the season/mood. Sick and tired of cauliflower and squash in March? Then throw in some greenery, peppers, and cute cherry tomatoes. Super stoked that it’s squash season in September? Butternut squash, spinach, peppers, and eggplant is a combination that cannot be beat! If you like, you can throw in your choice of protein – lentils, chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh have all been winners in the past. Spice level can be adjusted to taste preference, and the recipe is easily scaled back or quadrupled depending on how many mouths you are feeding that day. This is my Indian “chili”. Always delicious, always a winner.

The recipe is more of a guideline, developed over the years by throwing things in the pot and trying to remember what tasted the best. Take these guidelines and make them your own – tweak as you like, and enjoy your efforts!

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece fresh ginger, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (if you like the spice, don’t seed the peppers!)
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt, to taste
4 cups of your ‘meaty’ veggies: eggplant, squash, potato, etc.
4 cups diced tomatoes, or 1 (28oz.) canned tomatoes (Note: Whole canned tomatoes are also nice – rip them apart with your hands when you add them to the curry)
4 cups water
2 cup of your ‘crunch’ veggies: asparagus, bell pepper, snap peas, green beans, …
~10 cups fresh greens: spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or kale
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat olive oil and add mustard seeds. Sauté until seeds start to pop – cover pot with a lid to prevent seeds from escaping!
2) Add onion. Sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, ~7min. If pan looks dry, add a splash of water.
3) Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté ~1min.
4) Add the spices. Stir to coat and lightly toast.
5) Add the ‘meaty’ veggies. Stir to coat with spices and lightly sear.
6) Add the tomatoes, water, and ‘crunch’ veggies. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and partially cover, simmering ~5min.
7) Add the greens in handfuls, stirring as you go. Cook until greens are bright green and wilted. (If you are adding cherry tomatoes, add them at this point).
8) Turn off heat, and add cayenne pepper. Adjust all other seasonings to taste.
9) Serve hot with rice, and/or your favourite Indian flat bread.


Deluxe Aloo Curry

Deluxe Aloo Curry

What started as a simple exercise to use up some gorgeous baby potatoes turned into a giant vat of a tomato-based aloo curry – untraditional and unintended! Most aloo curries I have seen in restaurants are potatoes + one other element (spinach, cauliflower, cilantro, paneer …) not a whole garden full! I always get excited too when I find a tomato based potato curry as I prefer tomatoes to potatoes any day. This flavourful curry can be served with basmati rice and/or your Indian flatbread of choice. I served it with a daal, however if you want a meal-in-a-bowl throw in some chickpeas! The more the merrier when you’re creating in the kitchen!

I do not promise that this is an “authentic” Indian curry; however “authentic” ingredients are used! It tastes absolutely delicious, and smells wonderful! Clearly can be adapted to the contents of your fridge/CSA box! The version below uses eggplant, zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, greens, bell pepper, and a handful of cherry tomatoes for fun. A “winter” version could be sweet potato (in addition to red potato), squash, mushrooms, greens, and cauliflower. “Spring” could include asparagus and snap peas. Only limited by the scope of your imagination! Enjoy!

Deluxe Aloo Curry

Vegetables/Curry:
3 medium potatoes, quartered
3 cups eggplant, cut into 1” cubes
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1” cubes
1 cup green beans
½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cups greens: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens …
1 bell pepper, cut into 1” cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1-2 cups water, as necessary

Additional vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, squash, peas

Tempering/Tadka:
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
⅛ tsp. asafetida (hing)
salt to taste
1 tsp. mango powder (amchoor)
½ tsp. garam masala
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Tomato Curry Paste:
6 medium tomatoes OR (1) 32oz. can whole tomatoes, drained
1” fresh ginger, minced
2 green chilis, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. fennel seeds
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika

Directions:
1) In food processor, puree all Tomato Curry Paste ingredients. Set aside.
2) In large pot, heat oil and sauté cumin seeds and asafetida until cumin seeds crack
3) Add Tomato Curry Paste. Cover and cook approx. 5min
4) Add potatoes. Smooch a couple while cooking to make the curry creamier
5) Add eggplant. Cook approx. 10min.
6) Add all other vegetables except cherry tomatoes and greens. Cover and cook approx. 10min., or until vegetables are at desired tenderness. Add water as necessary
7) Add mango powder, garam masala, and salt to taste. Stir.
8) Add cherry tomatoes, greens, and cilantro. Stir and simmer until greens are bright green and wilted
9) Turn off heat, cover, and let sit a couple of minutes. Serve with roti, naan, or basmati rice

 

 


Tempeh Tikka Masala with Naan

Doesn't look like much, but it's heaven in a bowl!

Doesn’t look like much, but it’s heaven in a bowl!

Spicy tomato curries are a weakness of mine. I have yet to come across one that I have not immediately pledged my undying love to. Whether it be a vegetable curry, a daal, a veggie-daal combo, or something that gets thrown into the pot because your fridge is conspiring against you, they are all amazing. But this Tempeh Tikka Masala is quite possibly the best curry I have ever had the privledge of eating. Ever. Scooped up with delicious, easy, vegan naan bread and this quite possibly may be my definition of heaven.

Tempeh is one of my favourite protein sources. I rarely buy it, and when I do I let it talk to me. What does it want to be? Braised in a Mexican beer marinade and used as wraps? Sauted with soy sauce and used in a Macro Bowl? Well, this block was telling (demanding) me that it needed to be in a curry. Only a spicy tomato curry would make its life complete, and I was happy to oblige. I have never had ‘real’ Tikka Masala, and so this was a new experience for us both. The recipe is compliments of Vegan Richa (Formerly Hobbies and More), an amazing cook that has a life mission it seems to bring to the world the best that Northern India has to offer. The tempeh is first marinated in a mixture of curry spices and a small amount of yogurt. The curry is then built up with a pureed tomato base of fresh tomatoes, ginger, chili, and garlic. Aromatic Indian spices such as garam masala, paprika, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida (hing), and turmeric season the dish, turning the puree into something magical. Kale is added for some greens, although spinach would work as well. The tempeh is cooked seperately to sear the edgesand carmelize the marinade, then it’s all simmered together for as long as you can resist. Creamyness is added to the curry with the addition of yogurt and milk. This was my first time in adding yogurt to a curry to make it creamy, and the results did not dissapoint. I used Amande yogurt, but coconut yogurt would also be delectable here. This dish to me is comfort food to the max, with the right mixture of sauce, spice, and chewiness with the tempeh. Scooped with naan, and its bliss in a bowl.

The Tempeh Tikka Masala recipe can be found here: Vegan Richa – Tempeh Tikka Masala

I must admit, I never realized that naan bread had milk or yogurt in it. When dining at Indian restaurants, I tend to prefer roti or pampads, because those are the two items that I consistently set my oven on fire with when I try to make them. Naan is the soft, fluffy cousin of roti, and a new scooping vessel for me. It would make a great pizza base, or hummus vessel. This recipe is also from Vegan Richa, and my results were nothing short of phenominal. Soft, pillowy naan greeted me from the oven, with nary a lick of flame in sight! It requires a bit more pre-planning than roti because it needs to rise, but its definately worth the effort! This recipe will be used in the future for my next attempt at stuffed breads: Paratha. The verison I made here was the yogurt version (again with Amande), but next time I think I will add some garlic  and whole cumin seeds for a truly decadent naan.

This easy, delicious, and sure fire naan recipe can be found here: Vegan Richa – Naan


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