vegetables & salads

chuchu palya

8th January 2020

I  planted a chuchu vine 2 years ago, the first year it took off with great enthusiasm climbing up and over anything in its path. By the middle of Autumn, it was covered in small white flowers which sadly fell to the ground. This year, those white flowers turned into little buds, which grew into tiny, then small, then medium, then big chuchu. Lots of them! There are so many hidden amongst the leafage that when I think that I have picked them all, a few days later I come away with another basket full!

~locally known as Chuchu, Seemebadanekaayi in South India, Chayote in Mexico and Choko in Australia~

chuchu palya

Preparation –  25 minutes

Serves 2 – 3

Use heaped spoon measurements unless otherwise stated.

ingredients

2 Tbsp peanut oil

1 medium/360g chuchu

½ cup water

⅓ cup dried shredded coconut

1 tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp jaggery

¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped

voggarane

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp channa dal

tsp asafoetida powder

tsp turmeric powder

15 curry leaves

to serve

carrot palya  (Instead of grating, cut the carrot into small uniform cubes. When cooking, add a ¼ cup water and simmer uncovered until the water evaporates.)

yoghurt

spicy amla pickle

round brown rice

preparation

1.  Peel the chuchu and finely chop into small uniform cubes. Set aside.

2.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat, pour in the oil, add the mustard seeds and split channa dal – fry until the mustard seeds pop and channa dal starts to turn golden-brown.

3.  Add the asafoetida, curry leaves and turmeric – fry for a few seconds.

4. Add the water and stir in chuchu, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes then cover and simmer, stirring often  – approximately 5 minutes or until the chuchu is cooked and water has eliminated.

5.  Turn off the heat, add the dried coconut, salt, jaggery and coriander. Stir to combine.

variation

  • Towards the end of cooking stir in ½ cup full-fat yoghurt.

summer garden palya

2nd July 2019

A palya which I have been making often, very simple, quick and based on what is in the garden at the moment; a handful of beans, small cabbages and a few small zucchinis. Feel free to change the vegetables to suit the season or availability. Great served over rice, with avocado and pickle or accompanied with a simple dal. 

summer garden palya

Preparation 30 minutes

Serves 4 

Use heaped spoon measurements.

ingredients 

2 cups/230g zucchinis

3 cups/170g cabbage

1 cup/150g green beans

¼ cup/60ml water

1 tsp fine rock salt

2 tsp jaggery/sugar

5 Tbsp dried shredded coconut

½ cup chopped coriander/fenugreek leaves

voggarane

4 Tbsp peanut/melted coconut oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp split channa dal

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium, mild dried red chillies, chopped

⅛ tsp hingu powder (asafoetida)

¼ tsp turmeric powder

20 fresh curry leaves

to serve

ghee

brown rice

sliced avocado

spicy pickle

preparation

1.  Chop the zucchini, cabbage and green beans into small uniformed pieces and measure the spices for the voggarane – set aside.

prepare the voggarane

2.  In a heavy-bottom skillet, over medium heat, pour in oil, add mustard seeds and channa dal; when they turn grey and the dal is golden-brown, turn down the heat, add cumin seeds, chillies, and asafoetida – fry for 30 seconds, then add the turmeric powder and curry leaves – fry for a few seconds longer.

3.  Add the vegetables, water, salt and jaggery – stir to combine, and cook uncovered on medium heat for 3 minutes – stirring regularly, then cover and cook until the vegetables have softened – 3 more minutes. 

4.  Turn off the heat and stir in the dried coconut and coriander. 

5.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes in order to cool slightly and for the flavours to be absorbed. Taste, adding more salt or jaggery, as needed.

Serve with brown rice drizzled with ghee.

beetroot palya

11th April 2019

I prefer to keep this palya simple and the flavours subtle, as it is normally served with other complex dishes. Use fresh, small-medium sized beetroot with lots of flavour and preferably with their greens attached – a reliable sign of freshness. Always give them a squeeze to avoid buying old spongy beetroot that has been stored too long.

~ vegetable garden and blossoms ~

beetroot palya

Preparation – 40 minutes

Serves 4, as a side dish.

ingredients 

4-5 medium/450g beetroot

voggarane 

2 Tbsp peanut oil

½ tsp mustard seeds

15 small curry leaves

½ tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp jaggery

3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

3 Tbsp freshly grated coconut – can replace with dried

to serve 

whole moong dal with garden greens

yoghurt

rice

preparation 

1.  Scrub the beetroot and place in a pot of boiling water – simmer for 30 minutes until tender but still firm.

2.  Drain and allow to cool slightly. Using vinyl gloves (this will keep your hands clean while working with beets) slip the skin off. If the skin doesn’t slip off easily, use a knife to scrape the skin away. Finely chop into small uniformed cubes and place in a serving bowl.

prepare the voggarane 

3.  Heat the oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds; when they turn grey and pop, remove from heat, add in the curry leaves, swishing the pan around for the leaves to fry evenly. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 1 – 2 minutes, then stir in the salt and jaggery.

4.  Pour the voggarane over the beetroot – toss until well-incorporated.

5.  Add the finely chopped dill and sprinkle over the coconut – stir to combine. Garnish with a handful of small beetroot leaves.  Serve warm, or at room temperature.

variations 

  • Stir through 1  cup full-fat yoghurt.

suggestions 

  • If buying beets with their greens still attached, lightly steam the greens when boiling the beet, double the voggarane and stir through.

cabbage carrot palya

23rd February 2019

Growing up as a child, dinner was always six o’clock sharp, no later and no earlier. I grew up on the same weekly menu for as long as I lived with my parents and they still, to this day, eat according to this same menu.

This routine seems to be deep-rooted, as I get older I see a pattern emerging; Sunday is pasta night, Monday mornings pepper rasam and in the evening chapati night, Tuesday morning is a garden inspired rasam and Fridays are becoming sandwich night.

On chapati night, I serve this simple dal, a quick guacamole and this cabbage carrot palya. It is a combination which goes well together and has become a regular on the table for years now.

I prefer to keep this palya simple, as it is normally served with other complex dishes. For a more deeply flavoured dish, add 1 tsp finely grated ginger, roughly chopped toasted cashews and a squeeze of lemon towards the end of cooking.

cabbage carrot palya

Preparation – 20 minutes

Serves 3 – 4, as a side dish

ingredients

2 Tbsp peanut or coconut oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp split channa dal

1 tsp split urad dal

12 curry leaves

2 – 4 Tbsp water

3 cups/200g cabbage

1 medium/80g carrot

1 tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp jaggery

¼ cup/20g dried shredded coconut

to serve 

one pot dal

chapati

preparation 

1.  Finely chop the cabbage – measuring 3 cups, peel and grate the carrot using the larger side of a box grater – measuring 1 cup. Set aside.

2.  In a skillet, on medium-high heat, add the oil and mustard seeds; when the seeds turn grey and pop, add the channa and urad dal – fry until both dals are golden-brown, then add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.

3.  Turn down the heat, pour in the water and immediately add the cabbage. Cover and simmer the cabbage until cooked but still firm, stirring every few minutes – approximately 4 minutes. If there is any liquid left on the bottom, uncover and increase the heat to high until it has evaporated.

4.  Stir in the grated carrot – cook 1 – 2 minutes more, uncovered, stirring until the carrot is soft.

5.  Season with salt and jaggery, sprinkle in the dried coconut – combine well. If you like, add a small amount of finely chopped fresh coriander.

suggestions 

  • Use a variety of cabbage (Savoy Cabbage) with dark outer leaves for a variation in deep greens. It doesn’t affect the taste but the contrast is lovely.

variations 

  • In spring, add in fresh green sweet peas, when adding the cabbage.
  • Replace the carrot with finely chopped fenugreek leaves.

okra & fresh fenugreek palya

5th May 2018

Growing fenugreek (methi) in the garden or in a pot on a balcony is one of the easiest things to grow. The seeds miraculously start to pop up in 3 -5 days and in 4 weeks the fenugreek is ready to harvest.

Fenugreek grows well in spring to early autumn, especially when the soil is warm. It can be grown in full sun or part shade. The fenugreek can be grown in the soil directly or in a pot. I stagger my planting both in a pot and in the soil every 2 – 3 weeks for a constant supply.

To plant, prepare the ground with some compost and well-rotted manure mixed into the soil. You can buy the seeds from the sprouting section in the health food store or as I do, buy from your local Indian store, the seeds grow very well. I sprinkle the seeds directly in the soil, however, you can sow in straight line trenches and cover with soil. The fenugreek seeds don’t need to be evenly spaced apart like other plants in order to grow. The seeds also don’t need to be buried deep in the soil, so a scattering of soil on top to cover the seeds are all it needs. Keep the soil moist and within in 3 – 5 days little buds will appear.

I start harvesting around 4 weeks when the plant is about 6-inches high. To harvest cut the plant with a pair of scissors a few centimetres at the stem above the soil. This will encourage new growth enabling you to get a new crop in 2 – 3 weeks.

To harvest your own seeds, wait for the pods to turn yellow before harvesting.

~fenugreek~

okra & fresh fenugreek palya

ingredients

2 Tbsp peanut oil/coconut oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp channa dal

1 tsp urad dal

500g okra/ladyfinger

3 tightly packed cups chopped fresh fenugreek

½ cup/40g dried unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

½ tsp fine rock salt

to serve

simple everyday dal

rice or chapati

preparation

1.  Cut the tops off the okra and cut into uniformed 1 cm pieces. Wash the fenugreek leaves, pat dry and roughly chop. Set aside.

2.  In a large wok or skillet over high heat, add the peanut oil and mustard seeds; when the seeds turn grey and pop, add the channa and urad dal, fry, stirring constantly until both dals are golden-brown, a minute or so.

3.  Add the chopped okra and keep everything moving in the pan until all the okra starts to char around the edges, approximately 5 minutes.

4.  Turn off the heat and fold in the fresh fenugreek leaves, leaving the pan on the stove to continue to cook even though the fire is off.

5.  Once the fenugreek is wilted, stir in the coconut, add salt and jaggery and mix well.

This dish is best eaten immediately with chapati, rice and accompanied by a simple dal.

cosamberi – Indian spiced raw salad

31st May 2017

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Cosamberi is a delicious light, easily digestible raw salad that nourishes the body. Cosamberi is best eaten as a side dish alongside the main meal. It can also be eaten as a small snack in the morning or evening.  It balances vata, pitta and kapha.

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Less is More 

There are hundreds of varieties of food, but in order to be fit and healthy for Realization, we need to eat only a few of them. Once we establish a basic diet, we may or may not decide to eat other kind of foods. We are best served to work hard only for what is most needed to maintain a balanced mind and body. This is our duty and the essence of aparigraha (the value of having few belongings).

~ Dr. Shankaranarayana Jois – The Sacred Tradition of Yoga

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cosamberi

Serves 4 – as a side dish.

Recipe shared by our teacher Ganapati Aarya, as part of the Jivana Yoga Programme. 

Any left-over coconut can be grated, sealed and stored in the freezer. If unable to obtain fresh coconut, replace with ½ cup/35g dried shredded coconut.  For best results, grate the carrot and coconut small and fine, using the finer side of a box grater.

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ingredients 

¼ cup/50g split moong dal  

1 heaped cup/80g grated fresh coconut

1 large carrot – approximately 100g

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp/25ml lemon juice – divided

⅓ cup/15g coriander, finely chopped 

½ tsp fine rock salt

voggarane 

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp/20ml peanut/coconut oil

½ heaped tsp mustard seeds

1 heaped tsp split urad dal

1 dried red Byaadagi chilli, finely chopped

20 fresh curry leaves

pinch asafoetida powder

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

pre-preparation 

1.  Rinse dal until the water runs clear.  Cover again with water and set aside to soak for 1 hour.  Then, drain the dāl through a fine-mesh sieve and allow it to dry for 15 minutes.

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2. Finely grate the coconut – measuring 1 tightly packed cup.  Wash, peel and grate the carrot – measuring 1 tightly packed cup and pour 1 tsp lemon juice over the carrot to prevent discolouring. Rinse, dry and chop the fresh coriander – measuring ⅓ cup.

3.  Place in a medium-sized bowl along with the soaked dāl, sprinkle with salt – do not mix.

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prepare the voggarane 

4.  In a small pan over medium heat, add oil and mustard seeds; when the seeds turn grey and pop, add the urad dāl and chilli – fry until the urad dāl is golden-brown.  Add the curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric, and continue to fry for a few seconds, swishing the pan for the spices to fry evenly.

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5.  Pour the voggarane into the bowl, and add the remaining lemon juice, mixing well to allow all colours and flavours to blend evenly.

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green bean palya

11th September 2016

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This is a great dish to make in late August when you have a glut of beans that cannot be picked fast enough and are becoming quite tough and in need of that extra boiling time to soften and bring out the flavour.  The climbing bean would have to be one of my favourite vegetables growing in the garden.  Once they are at their peak they continue to produce at a fast and furious rate.  Here, in Europe I grow the runner beans which have proven to do the best, being most resilient and tough, in this odd unpredictable, misty, Sintra climate.  They also produce the most beautiful flowers of ivory and cream.

Before leaving for our Summer holiday, I planted a second round of climbing beans, planting in hope to extend the season, but alas only two came up, fortunately, I also threw in a bed of very old french beans to clean out my seedbox.  To my surprise all sprouted with robust enthusiasm and are close to picking in two weeks, I just hope the weather stays warm as we edge our way into early Autumn. This is the warmest and driest of summers we have had since arriving in Portugal and the garden is rejoicing in it.

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This dish may be used as a condiment or independently served with rice, chapati or poori.  It strengthens the body, is easily digested and is suitable for all constitutions, daily and throughout all seasons.  For a variation of taste, lemon juice can be added at the end of preparation.  This variation is recommended when eating with rice.

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Green Bean Palya

The chilli, commonly used in South Indian cooking, is Byaadagi chilli and is known for its deep red colour; it is relatively sweet and less spicy.  If unsure about the level of spice of the chilli you are using, leave whole or cut in half.

Preparation 30 minutes

Serves 4

Recipe shared by our teacher Ganapati Aarya, as part of the Jivana Yoga Programme.  

ingredients 

4 cups /420g green beans

1½ cups/375ml  water

1 tsp fine rock salt

2 tsp jaggery/sugar

5 Tbsp/30g dried shredded coconut

½ cup coriander leaves, chopped 

voggarane

¼ cup/60ml peanut/melted coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp split channa dal

1 tsp split urad dāl 

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 medium, mild dried red chillies, chopped

tsp hingu powder (asafoetida)

½ tsp turmeric powder

20-25 fresh curry leaves

preparation

1.  Wash, top-tail and chop the green beans into small uniformed pieces and measure out the spices for the voggarane – set aside.

prepare the voggarane

2.  In a heavy bottom skillet, over medium heat, pour in oil, add the mustard seeds; when they turn grey and pop, turn down the heat and add the channa and urad dāl, cumin seeds, chillies and asafoetida – fry until channa and urad dāl have turned golden-brown. Add the turmeric powder and curry leaves – fry for a few seconds.

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3.  Add the beans, water, salt and jaggery – stir to combine and simmer rapidly on medium heat until the beans have softened – 15 minutes.  If wanting more of a firm bean, simmer for less time.

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4.  Turn off the heat and stir in the dried coconut and coriander. 

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5.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes in order to cool slightly and to enhance the flavours.  Taste, adding more salt or jaggery, as needed.

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sprouted moong coconut lemon palya

8th March 2016

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I made this last weekend for a relaxed lunch with family and friends.  It was served with fermented Indian dosasspicy chickpea sambar, carrot palya and a bowl of sliced avocados with arugula leaves and mustard micro-greens.  After a last minute panic, thinking this may not be enough, I had moong dal sprouts waiting to be used.  Initially, I had soaked them for fermented moong bean pancakes but had not got around to grinding them, so they ended up as sprouts waiting for a purpose.

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-sweet winter plum tree. In Summer, it is laden with fruit that is brilliant in colour.

-went outside to find her – soft and silent when she is out of the water.

-slate skies, frosty mornings and fingers tingling.

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sprouted moong dal coconut lemon palya

Serves 4

Any left-overs from the fresh coconut can be kept in the freezer, otherwise, it tends to go off before it can be used.  If you are unable to obtain fresh coconut, replace with ¾ cup unsweetened, dried, shredded coconut.  The urad and chana dal add a nice crunch, however, if you are unfamiliar with these, they can be omitted and replaced with roughly chopped cashews or almonds, frying them until golden.  The secret to getting this simple palya just right is to saute the sprouts very minimally so that they are just slightly soft, but still, retain their freshness and are not overcooked.

During colder seasons, sprouts act as an excellent source of fresh vegetables.  Cooking them at this time of year balances their cooling nature. When lightly steaming or sautéing, they still keep their vital and energizing qualities. 

ingredients 

2½ cups sprouted whole moong dal (whole mung beans)

1½ cups freshly grated coconut

1 Tbsp oil/ghee

1 heaped tsp urad dal

1 heaped tsp channa dal

½ tsp cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

zest from a lemon

juice from a lemon

1 cup chopped coriander

salt and pepper, to taste

pre-preparation

1.  For sprouting, follow the directions here, using 1 cup whole moong dal. After an overnight soak, the sprouts are ready in just two-three days.

preparation

2. Grate the fresh coconut into fine shreds until you have 1½ cups.  Set aside.

3.  In a skillet over medium heat, add the ghee/oil and urad and channa dal, fry until both dals are golden-brown, then add cumin seeds and curry leaves – fry for 30 seconds. Add in the sprouts and saute for a few minutes, stirring to keep the sprouts moving.

4.  Add the grated coconut and saute for 2 more minutes, or until the sprouts are slightly wilted, but still hold their shape.

5.  Transfer to a medium-sized serving bowl and mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, coriander and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

6.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon or salt as needed.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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roasted pumpkin palya

25th October 2015

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from garden to table…

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There is something about the shape and colour of a pumpkin in their round jolly state, glowing bright and light amongst the blackened droopy leaves and tangled stems, that makes you smile.

Particularly now, after being absent from the garden for three weeks, attending our yearly yoga retreat in India.  I came back full of calm and brightness to a garden that had too many dreary wet days, causing the tomato and zucchini plants to melt, far too early in the season.  The sight of not one, two, but three, bright balls of sunshine ignited hope and light into a neglected garden.  They had survived a long absence, a storm and a take-over of zillions of snails.

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pumpkin palya

Inspired by Sandya’s place in Mysore.

serves 4

ingredients

1 kg pumpkin, peeled & chopped 

4 Tbsp ghee – divided

1 red/60g capsicum, finely chopped

voggarane

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp split channa dal

1 tsp split urad dal

¼ tsp asafoetida powder

6 – 8 fresh curry leaves

2 Tbsp dried coconut

salt to taste

¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped

preparation

1.  Preheat the oven 210 C/410 F. Line a rimmed baking tray with baking paper.

2. Wash the pumpkin, peel and chop into 1½ cm pieces.  Place in a bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons ghee, toss until well coated, then place on the baking tray in the oven to roast until soft and golden brown around the edges, approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

prepare the voggarane

3.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat, add remaining ghee and mustard seeds; when the seeds turn grey and pop, add the channa and urad dal – fry until both dals are golden-brown, then add the asafoetida and curry leaves – fry for a few seconds, swishing the pan around for the spices to fry evenly.

4.  Add the capsicum and fry for 2 – 3 minutes.

5.  Turn off the heat, add the coconut and roasted pumpkin. Mix well, season with salt and sprinkle with coriander when serving.

Serve with chapati, dosa or your favourite grain dish.

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carrot palya

11th June 2015

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golden rays of Spring colours peeking through….

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and enjoying this unusual stillness…

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a simple carrot palya

for Anna

Serves 4  (I use 1 small-medium carrot per person).

This is such a quick & easy dish to make to serve with dosa.  Especially good with a bowl of guacamole and a spicy Indian Sambar.  The secret to getting this simple palya just right is to saute the grated carrot very minimally so that it is just slightly soft, but still retains its freshness and isn’t overcooked.  I found that using the smaller grater attachment on the food processor or box grater makes a difference to the finished dish.  The jaggery and coconut make it slightly sweet, so it is a favourite with the younger and more fussier eaters in the family. I keep it very simple as I love how the carrots get to shine, but you could easily spruce it up by adding finely chopped fresh coriander, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of lemon zest.

ingredients

3 medium carrots

1 Tbsp spoon ghee/oil

½ tsp mustard seeds

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 generous tsp jaggery/brown sugar

2 heaped Tbsp unsweetened dried coconut

¼ tsp fine rock salt

preparation

1.  Top, tail and peel the carrots.  Either using a smaller hand grater or your food processor (using the smaller grater attachment), grate the carrots.  Pick out the bigger bits and finely chop them, adding back in with the rest of the grated carrots.  Set aside.

2.  In a skillet, add the ghee and mustard seeds; when they turn grey, then add the turmeric and grated carrots, use two spoons and toss the carrots around as you would toss a salad, keeping the carrots moving – saute just for a minute or two.  

3.  Add the jaggery and dried coconut and a sprinkling of salt.  

Serve immediately, or if you are making ahead, transfer to another dish so it doesn’t continue to cook, then serve at room temperature.

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