Feb 27, 2008

Healthy eating-Spinach and Sprouts Upma-WBB

Few days back I was going through an article in a magazine and the title loomed large" Eat well and stay slim forever".Sounds so wonderful and perfect ...isn't it?? It needs so much of will power and effort not to over indulge in artery clogging fast food and less nutritious stuff.Sometimes we just opt for convenience over quality.Our eating habits are so ingrained that we are not aware of them.Health problems like indigestion,obesity,blood pressure clogged arteries are all because of increasing stress,imbalance in our lives and an unhealthy eating pattern.In today's world individuals juggling busy schedules and convenience foods is a common occurrence.

There are times when I just ignore the smell, the look , the taste and just wolf down the food without paying any attention.I have been trying to make a conscious effort from my side not to repeat these and have dinners and weekend meals together...no watching TV, no phone calls basically a distraction free meal so that we pay attention to what we eat, eat less and enjoy more.The eat less part is definitely for me:)).

Healthy eating requires planning and effort to include variety of food in your meals and following a perfect diet plan which I have been trying my best to inculcate in my household for the benefit of my 6 yr old growing up daughter and my hubby whose profession as a fighter pilot demands it.It is crucial for a fighter pilot to be fighting fit and in an excellent heart condition to be able to withstand the high and low gravitational forces when piloting a jet at high speed. He needs to have a perfect eyesight,quick reflexes and the ability to stay cool under pressure.

For my hubby who nurtures the passion and fascination of scudding through the sky with the ability to defy gravity with a multi -million dollar piece of machinery , the patriotic fervor, the hard work he has put to make his dream come true would be emotionally tormenting if he is scooped out of the profession because of any health problems . A mere weight gain and they are ordered to stop flying till they get back to shape!! For me it's a constant challenge everyday to rustle up a healthy meal and mentally rehearse" Healthy Eating"!!:)

Well thanks to WBB-Weekend Breakfast Blogging I ended up with a really long writeup.WBB is the brainchild of Nandita of Saffron Trail and is hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes this month.I am sending my spinach and sprouts upma as my entry to this event.
Breakfast is the most important and energy enhancing meal of the day.Eating breakfast everyday makes a big positive difference in your health.This nutrition packed upma is a hit in my household and I am sure you all will enjoy it.

You need:
1 cup sooji( semolina)
2 cups water
1 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
5-6 curry leaves
1 green chilli chopped
a pinch hing(asofoetida)
1 cup green mung sprouts
1 cup chopped or minced spinach
1 small onion chopped
2 tomatoes (blanched and chopped)
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
salt to taste,juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Dry roast the Suji( semolina) till it becomes brown and fragrant, keep it aside.
2. In a wok heat oil,add hing ,rai green chillies and curry leaves.
3. When it starts spluttering add onion,fry till it looks transparent and then add tomatoes.Saute
for 2 mins.
4.To this add sprouts and cook for 2-3 mins.
5. Add the spinach,salt,pepper and cook for 5 more mins stirring on low heat.
6.Add water and bring to a boil.Add lemon juice.
7. Add suji,stirring continuously and cook till dry.Serve hot with ketchup or chutney.

This recipe is from Nita Mehta 's Low Fat Recipes but lot of ingredients have been added by me according to our tastes.Enjoy the healthy breakfast !!

Feb 26, 2008

Nice matters award .....for me !!

“Nice Matters Award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world.”

Hey every body I am so thrilled today!I haven't completed one month of blogging and this Nice matters award comes my way surprisingly.Thanks to the lovely Jaya @Spice and curry who has passed on this award to me and given a real hard boost.I am on top of the moon today:))

Now its my chance to pass on this award andI would like to pass this on to three of my blog friends who have been an inspiration to me .
Eskay@Bon Vivant's Chow Chronicles is a very warm and helpful girl.Thank you eskay for the constant support and the help you extended to me when I needed it the most.Eskay has a great blog with wonderful and very different recipes.
Pragyan@ Pragyan's Cooking has amazing oriya recipes which take me back to my motherland and her humble approach towards life in her writings makes me a great fan of hers.
Sra @ When The Soup Came Alive is one more person whose write ups are worth reading ...they bring a smile and lighten up your day:)
I would love to pass this on to everybody in blogosphere as the effort and the passion for cooking is so evident in their blogs.My heartfelt thanks goes to everybody who has taken out their valuable time to leave a comment in my new born blog.
Love you all.

Feb 22, 2008

Aloo Chop - a favourite oriya snack

Born and brought up in Orissa makes me an Oriya by origin and a true oriya at heart. Unfortunately most of the people I have met know Orissa because of the natural calamities and not because of the rich cultural heritage it possesses. It saddens my heart when people show their ignorance about my state saying "oh is it the same place where the cyclone happened?" It's quite depressing to know that there are lot of people in India who are unaware of the fact that Orissa is famous for its magnificent temples, for its pristine beaches and lakes, for Lord Jagannath and Rath Yatra, for its gorgeous filigiree work and lovely handloom sarees and a vibrant cuisine and.....i can go on and on :)
Now that i have let it out from my system, I would love to introduce Oriya cuisine and my motherland to all of you in my blog posts. The fresh vegetable produce in Moscow doesn't allow me to cook much of Oriya food but then once in a while I indulge my nostalgic senses and try to create an Oriya specialty the way my mom makes back home but never get the "perfect" satisfaction. There is no comparison with mom's food as hers is the best. The smell of pancha phutan (a mix of cumin, mustard seeds, aniseed, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds) in hot mustard oil, the pungent taste of mustard paste and the creamy poshto ( poppy seeds paste) in vegetables and fish, the melt in the mouth feel of Rasagulla and Chenna poda (baked cottage cheese cake) evokes delectable memories and transports me back in time. Right now I can just dream and drool!!

My post this time is Aloo chop, boiled potatoes cooked with ginger and onions, made into roundels, dipped in gram flour (Besan) batter and deep fried. This is a very common snack time specialty in Orissa.There are a variety of chops (I still don't know the reason behind calling them chops) vegetable chop, chinguri ( prawns) chop, egg chop, fish chop though all these are fried with coated breadcrumbs and not besan. Every eatery joint stocks up with these snacks specially singada (samosa) and Aloo chop which are freshly made during the evening and you find people flocking to buy them for their evening snacks. Oriya people love to eat and evening snacking is very common. I learnt to make these after I left Orissa and after umpteen number of trials and errors I have found a taste very similar to what I get back home:). These chops are perfect with bowl of mudhi (puffed rice) mixed with chopped raw onion ,mixture and mustard oil.Divine to the core!!
I finally found a guy selling them in Konkan express as Aloo Bonda.
This simple yet delicious snack is my entry for DK's Potato feast.
This also is an entry for Sia's Ode to potato.

For making Aloo chop
You need:

For the stuffing:
3 medium potatoes boiled and mashed
1 medium onion chopped finely or grated
1" pc grated ginger
1 green chili chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander pwdr
1/4 tsp turmeric pwdr
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves chopped finely
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

for the batter:
3 tbsp gram flour ( besan)
1 1/2 tbsp rice flour
1/2 tsp carrom seeds (ajwain)
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
1/2 tsp red chili pwdr
salt to taste
1/2 cup water
a pinch of soda bicarbonate
Oil for deep frying

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan (I prefer mustard oil to get the authentic taste). Add cumin and mustard seeds, let it brown and splutter, add the grated onion and ginger and chopped green chili and fry till the raw smell goes off.
  2. Add the mashed potato and all the spices mentioned in stuffing and the salt. Mix on low flame and finally add the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Keep aside and let it cool.
  3. Prepare the batter by adding all the ingredients under batter and mix well so that no lumps remain.
  4. Add 1 tsp of hot oil while making the batter and be sure to make the batter a little thick so that it coats the stuffing nicely.
  5. Heat the oil for deep frying. Divide the potato mixture into equal lemon sized balls and flatten them with your palm.
  6. Dip each flattened piece in the batter and deep fry till golden brown. Make sure you have 1 inch of oil for deep frying in the pan. Serve hot with chutney or ketchup

Feb 17, 2008

Turkey pomegranate salad

The memories of Aai's (my maternal grandmother) backyard filled with trees laden with green and red fruits and Aai seperating the fruits' arils from the skin and serving us for breakfast, the red shiny arils resembling small glistening rubies are still fresh in my mind. Her trick of separating the arils from the skin was to dip in a bowl of water while separating them. You guessed right....I am talking about Pomegranate.

Pomegranate juice is a great thirst quencher and has a refreshing and soothing taste. It is widely used as a table fruit, in salads, to marinate meat, as a garnish and toppings, as juice and also used to make high quality wine. This fruit represents fertility and marriage in the middle east countries and considered as auspicious by the Chinese as they believe it wards off evil. Pomegranate is also called the heart's tonic and is held in high esteem for its medicinal properties. More information regarding this delicious fruit can be known from here.

Today I am posting an exotic turkey pomegranate salad and this is my entry for AFAM-Pomegranate hosted by Sra of When my soup came alive and started by Maheshwari of Beyond the Usual.This is my first participation in a food event in the blogosphere. The recipe is adapted from The Thanksgiving book by Jerome agel and Jason shulman and is also available here.

Feb 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day to you all !!

No food blogging today!Just a message of love to all you beautiful people.Love....its a gift from the almighty ,an expression that touches us all,it cannot be seen nor touched but is felt within us.Today is Valentine's day,a festival that cherishes love and celebrated by all ages and races.
So let's celebrate love,receive love and bestow love on everyone around us irrespective of caste , creed and colour.I take this oppurtunity of Valentine's day to express my heartfelt love and gratitude to my family, near and dear ones,friends and all my co- bloggers.Love you all.Have a wonderful day with your loved ones.

A Happy Valentines Day to you all !!!

Feb 12, 2008

Cannelloni stuffed with cottage cheese and spinach

So we meet again!!

This weekend was quite boring as we were restricted to the confines of our apartment.With the temperatures rising and the snow melting there was slush everywhere and with me paranoid about mud and slush there was no chance that i would step out.So finally we languished in front of the TV in our night suits, played scrabble ,completed my daughter's environmental science project, made a waste paper bin for my daughter's room, did some blog hopping and admiring the creativity and made cannelloni for lunch:)). Phew!!
Back in India it was a tedious task for me to go hunting for Cannelloni in the stores,here its a joy to shop for continental stuff, you name it and its there.
Cannelloni is a big pipe shaped pasta or basically large stuffable tubes( courtesy wikipedia).The basic idea is from Nita Mehta's chicken cannelloni but the stuffing has been incorporated by me.The stuffed pasta is layered with tomato sauce and bechamel sauce(white sauce) and baked with a generous sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.Yuummmmmm!!!!Every mouthful leading to sheer bliss.

You need:
5 ready made cannelloni tubes
1 tbsp oil and1tsp salt to cook the pasta
60 gms cheese (mozzarella) grated

For the stuffing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 small onion chopped
3/4 cup chopped spinach(i used frozen minced spinach)
1 cup crumbled cottage cheese(paneer)
1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped finely
1/4 cup corn kernels( i used tinned sweet corn kernels)
1 large tomato pureed or equivalent tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion finely chopped
3 flakes garlic crushed
2 medium tomatoes pureed
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste

For the bechamel sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp grated cheese(i use cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil ready made cannelloni tubes in boiling water with the salt and oil for 7-8 minutes or till done.Read the packet instructions.
  2. To prepare the stuffing, heat oil, add the onion and garlic, fry till onion is soft.Add the bell peppers ,corn and spinach and saute for 2-3 minutes.Add the crumbled cottage cheese, herbs,tomato puree, salt and pepper.Cook till the mixture is dry.
  3. To prepare the tomato sauce,heat oil ,add garlic,fry till light brown.Add onion and fry till transparent.Add all the other ingredients and boil till slightly thick pouring consistency(not dry).
  4. To prepare the bechamel sauce heat butter, add the flour and cook till it has a light brown tinge.Reduce heat and add milk stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed.Add seasonings and cook till the sauce starts coating the back of the spoon.Remove from heat,add cheese and mix well.
  5. Stuff cannelloni tubes with the prepared stuffing.
  6. To assemble, spread some tomato sauce at the base of the baking dish.Arrange the stuffed cannelloni on it in a single layer.Spread rest of the tomato sauce on it.Then spread the bechamel sauce on it to cover completely.
  7. Top it up with grated mozzarella cheese and bake at 180 deg C for 20 mins or till cheese is golden in colour.
Just forget being health conscious for a while and pamper your taste buds!

Feb 7, 2008

Russian winter and Borsch

Zdrastwiche!! (Hello! in Russian)

Russia the land of vast landscapes, of dynamic Tsars, soaring golden domed cathedrals, ballet beauties and figure skaters, of frozen rivers and lakes, a land rich in culture and heritage and how can I forget the legendary Lenin and Stalin.Yes! that's the image you conjure in your mind when you try to imagine about this mesmerising country.

The severity of Russian winter is not unknown to people. Winter brings the Russia of imagination to life, the snow makes everything picturesque and harshly beautiful. My stay in Moscow, the awe inspiring capital is just eight months old. Moscow, where the mercury dips down to -30 deg C is a huge, drastic change from Goa the land of sun, sand and sea where we were posted for six long years. It's a devastatingly new experience and I am loving every bit of it.
I keep on watching spell bound for hours together from my apartment window the snow falling......tiny flakes of snow floating all around, the cars, rooftops, the nude branches of the trees all covered with a shroud of pristine white carpet, children in blue, pink, red winter attire (they look like little astronauts) darting across the snow filled park of the detski sad(children's kindergarten) creating small indentations of their shoes on the snow. Mothers in fur coats strolling with their infants in well protected prams, dogs with their masters doing walk the talk, people hurrying across the snow filled streets to the tram and monorail stop, a flurry of daily life activities going on but for me time just stands still. I savour each and every moment and capture the scene in my mind's eye and in the camera to cherish it forever. I get this urge of opening the window and collect the snowflakes in my palm. They are beautiful, each flake shaped like a small flower...they melt in my palm inside. The feeling of dejection is evident from my face, it would be so nice to just store it as it is and take it back home.....ridiculous thought though.
During the long cold winters, it's easy to imagine that we will never see the sun again. The warm golden days of July and August when the sun sets at midnight here fade as if only a distant memory and I fear that I will be forever consigned to woolly hats and the heavy fur coats.

View from our apartment window

Experimenting with our camera

My blog's posts wouldn't be complete if I do not write about food. You guessed right! I will blog about a Russian dish today. Russia has a glorious culinary heritage....from the Baltic to the far east, the variety is immense. As with any cold climate country there's a great love for fat loaded dishes- Russia is no place to go on a diet. I can just go on and on about Russian delicacies, so I will talk about it in a later post. As the post revolves around winter a winter warmer would be wonderful, a popular soup called Borsch. Borsch is basically of Ukrainian origin that got its name from the most important ingredient beet called "borsch" in old slavic. It can be served hot or cold usually with sour cream (smetana) poured on top of it. Some Borsch is vegetarian but mostly its made with beef stock. There are numerous ways of making this soup, after trials and errors I found this way to be the easiest and tasty. I prepare Borsch with chicken stock and lots of fresh herbs. The beetroot in the soup imparts a beautiful red colour to it.

The Borsch soup

You need:

1 big beet cut into thin strips
1 medium carrot cut into thin strips
1 small potato cut into thin strips (some prefer cubes)
You can also shred the veggies and cube the potatoes according to your preference
1 small onion diced
1/2 cup cabbage shredded
3-4 flakes garlic
1/2 stalk celery or to taste
2 canned tomatoes or fresh diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or dried
1 tbsp fresh dill or dried
1/2 cup bell peppers chopped(optional)
1 chicken stock cube
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar(less if using canned tomatoes)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp sour cream
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large stir fry pan. Add the garlic and chopped onions and saute till the onions turn transparent. Alternately you can add the garlic when you leave the soup to boil.
  2. Now add the potatoes, carrots and celery and stir fry. Add the beetroots after 3-4 mins. Cook until veggies are done.
  3. Add the cabbage and tomatoes. In the meantime boil 2 and a1/2 cups water with the chicken stock cube.
  4. Add the stock to the veggies and bring to a boil. Lastly add the parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Add the bell peppers if you are using them.
  5. Reduce heat and cover. The longer you cook the stronger the flavour. I put it on low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Boil more if you are making in large quantity.
  6. Check throughout to add spices and herbs.
  7. Lastly add vinegar ( less if you are using canned tomatoes) and serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

Cheers to health and pleasure!! I will sign out with some breathtaking shots of Russian nature in winter by Mikhail Tkachev.
Dusvidaniya!!!(till we meet again in Russian)

Feb 4, 2008

Chicken stroganoff

Today when I logged into my orkut account in the morning the first scrap that I read was from my school friend Devyani.She wanted me to post a chicken recipe in my blog.I debated what to make for dinner and that too a chicken dish.Dinner at my place is always a light affair,mostly baked or steamed,sometimes just an appetizing soup with a filler like pasta or rice in it and a nutritious salad.I make sure lunch is a proper balanced meal with dal, roti, subzi and curd on the table.Finally I decided on chicken stroganoff minus the butter and cream . The dish is cubed chicken and mushrooms simmered in tomato cream sauce,a little yoghurt is added to the cream to make the dish lighter.I use olive oil to make the dish more lighter and lessen the amount of cream .

So this is for you devyani,this is one of our favourite chicken preparation and a Nita Mehta creation.We had our delicious dinner with steaming hot rice and without forgetting the religious photography of the sizzling pan.Finally the chicken stroganoff is ready to blog about.

You need:
2 boneless chicken breasts
,cubed into 1"pcs
2 tbsp butter

1 small onion finely chopped

100 gms mushroom-each cut into 2 pcs( if big 4 pcs)

1 cup chicken stock or water

1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato sauce

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

3 flakes garlic chopped and crushed
1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup cream

2 tbsp thick yoghurt

1/4 tsp pepper and chilli pwdr
salt to taste
1 capsicum chopped into cubes for garnish


  1. Marinate the chicken pcs in salt,pepper and chilli pwdr for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a pan, add onion and cook till light brown.Add the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 mins,remove from the pan.
  3. In the same pan add 1 tbsp butter and add the chicken pcs,stir fry till well browned on both sides, for about 4-5 mins. Add 1 cup of water and close the lid and simmer for 15 mins.Remove from fire.
  4. take out 1/2 cup of chicken stock from the pan.Cool the stock and blend in the flour and mix well.
  5. Return pan with chicken to heat.Add tomato puree,tomato sauce,worcestershire sauce,garlic and the fried onion mushroom to the chicken in the pan.Add salt pepper and the blended flour paste.Stir and boil.
  6. Whip Cream and yoghurt well so that there are no lumps.
  7. Take the pan off the heat,add cream yoghurt mixture and blend well.
  8. Add chopped capsicum,heat on low flame and remove when it starts to boil.Serve with steamed rice.
Happy Eating!!

Feb 2, 2008

Lemon coriander soup-No croutons required

I am not at all happy with my blog snaps :(.....this is the first time i am using the camera for food photography and I am just not aware of the different settings of the camera. I think I desperately need my hubby's help!! I have been blog hopping the whole morning .....kudos to all you food bloggers! How do you manage to click such beautiful snaps?Please do help me out with your advice regarding photography.

Today i am going to post a refreshing soup,lemon coriander soup with mushrooms and carrots tried from Nita Mehta's new Chinese collection. It's got a hint of ginger in it which is quite soothing if you are suffering from a bad throat.I am a die hard fan of Neeta Mehta,her recipes turn out to be lip smacking and are meant for the Indian palate.So i will leave you with the ingredients and the method.Wish me luck.......for photography of course!!Enjoy the aromatic soup!!
I am sending this soup as my entry for "no croutons required" event started by Lisa of Lisa's kitchen and Holler of Tinned tomatoes.

You need:
5 cups water
1 stick lemon grass chopped or 1 tsp lemon rind( i used 4-5 sticks dried lemon grass)
1/4 cup chopped coriander with stalks
1" pc ginger,sliced
2 laung ( cloves),1 tej patta (bay leaves)
2 seasoning cubes( maggi, knorr or any other brand)

other ingredients:
1/2 carrot or 1/4 cup carrot ,sliced paper thin diagonally
2 mushrooms cut into thin slices( optional)
1 tsp oil, a pinchof red chilli pwdr
salt and pepper to taste( the seasoning cube already has salt)
2-3 tbsp lemon juice,1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2 tbsp coriander torn roughly with hands


1.For stock, mix all the ingredients under stock with the 5 cups water,bring to aboil and keep on low flame for 2-3 minutes.Keep aside.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, add apinch of red chilli pwdr and immediately add carrots and mushrooms.saute for 1 min at medium flame.
3.Add pepper,check salt and add more if required. Boil.
4.Strain the prepared stock into the vegetables in the pan.
5. Add the cornflour dissolved in water, stirring continuously.
6.Add lemon juice,sugar and corinder leaves,simmer for 2 mins.Remove from fire and serve hot.

Paneer Bhurji

Once I had this huge amount of crumbled paneer and out of sheer laziness I didn’t want to make something sweet giving an excuse to myself that it’s unhealthy. Koftas did come to my mind but it just needed too much of work, so I decided to make bhurji out of it though I didn’t have the recipe. Whatever little I knew of cooking that time I just went by my instincts and prepared it and it tasted yum. To this date I don’t use any other recipe while preparing this dish.:) I would love to share this simple yet tasty recipe with you all.
To make Paneer bhurji you need:

1 lt milk made into Paneer
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 medium sized tomato chopped
1 small capsicum chopped
¼ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp whole jeera or cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric pwdr
½ tsp kasoori methi or dried fenugreek
1 tsp coriander pwdr
1 tsp garam masala pwdr
1 tsp chilli pwdr or to taste
¾ tsp amchur or dry mango pwdr
salt to taste
2-3 tsp oil
chopped coriander leaves for garnishing


1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a non sick pan. Add the cumin seeds, cook till it turns golden.
2. Add the chopped onions and the kasuri methi, sauté till it turns pink in colour.
3. Add the ginger garlic paste, fry for ½ a minute.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric pwdr, and the chilli pwdr. Stir fry till the oil separates from the paste.
5. Now add the crumbled paneer and mix well. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally.
6. Lastly add the coriander, garam masala and amchur pwdr and let it cook for 2 minutes.
7. Add the salt, mix well and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with parathas.

I use the left over paneer bhurji as filling in a grilled or toasted sandwich for breakfast or as a filling in a Frankie for my little one’s lunch box. From my experiences I have learnt that it is not necessary to follow the measures and ingredients of a recipe religiously. It is totally upto you to omit and substitute ingredients according to your taste and balance the flavours.

Paneer is called cottage cheese and is widely used in Indian cuisine. Its a healthy protein rich food. To prepare paneer lemon juice or vinegar or citric acid crystals is added to boiling hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are then drained in a cloth and excess water is pressed out. Tofu can be substituted for paneer as tofu has a similar texture and consistency.

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