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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with ghee

01Oct 12

Kaju Burfi

Kaju BarfiKaju Burfi is a traditional Indian sweet made with cashew nuts. Perhaps because it is a bit expensive to produce, it is considered an exquisite gift. I love to give my friends and family home-made Kaju Burfi on Indian festivals. I have also been known to give it to my non-Indian friends for their birthdays.

One of the reasons Kaju Burfi is so dear is that it contains saffron. Each saffron flower has only three delicate red stigmas which have to be collected by hand, making this one of the most expensive spices in the world. But despite the high price, saffron is definitely worth springing for. It has a unique flavour that really has no substitute. As you know, I am always happy to suggest substitutions for the more exotic ingredients in some of my recipes. However, I just cannot think of any other spice that matches the flavour.

Saffron is what gives so many Indian sweets and desserts their exotic hint. The funny thing about this spice is that despite the fact that its delicate strands are red, it actually colours food yellow.

If you like this idea, have a whirl at my coconut burfi as well.

 

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Kaju Burfi
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
Kaju Burfi is a traditional Indian sweet made with cashew nuts.
Ingredients
  • 300g ground Cashew nuts
  • 200g Sugar
  • 600ml Milk
  • 200g Ghee
  • 1tsp Cardamom power
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 3 strands of Saffron
  • 50g grated Coconut
  • 10g chopped Pistachios
Instructions
  1. Soak the cashew nuts in water for 15 minutes.
  2. Blend the cashew nuts finely in a blender on high together with the sugar and the milk.
  3. Heat up the ghee in a large pan.
  4. Add the cardamom power, nutmeg, saffron and grated coconut. Let cook on a low flame for 1 minute, stirring.
  5. Add in the cashew mix from the blender.
  6. Lower the flame and stir. It should become quite thick.
  7. Keep stirring until it thickens to the point that it is all in the centre of the pan.
  8. Remove from heat and put in a greased dish.
  9. Spread it out flat with a spatula.
  10. Let it set for 20 minutes.
  11. Cut into squares or rectangles, garnish with chopped pistachios and serve.

 

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18Sep 12

Shahi Paneer

Shahi PaneerShahi Paneer is a traditional dish that consists of cubes of paneer cheese in a thick, spicy gravy. There are many varieties, but my mother makes it with almonds, which I also have begun to do recently. Of course, I must warn you that this is not a dish that is low in calories. Creamy gravies are never light, and much less so with nuts added in! (Also try my palak paneer recipe.)

Cardamom is an essential spice that contributes to the exotic flavour of this tasty dish. This intense spice comes from the black or green veins of a plant in the ginger family. Because of its intense flavour and aroma, cardamom is one of the most frequently used spices in Indian cuisine

This recipe also calls for garam masala. There are many varieties of garam masala, which is a mix of spices that can contain up to 15 different ingredients. It is sold in speciality Indian food shops.

As I have mentioned before, if you are unable to find paneer cheese, you can substitute it with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. Likewise, you may substitute ghee with regular butter.

Serve hot over basmati rice or with Naan bread.

Shahi Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Shahi Paneer is a traditional dish that consists of cubes of paneer cheese in a thick, spicy gravy.
Ingredients
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 1 Onion
  • 1cm piece Ginger
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 2 Cardamoms
  • 5 Tomatoes
  • 100ml beaten Curd
  • 3tbsp Almond Paste
  • 100ml Water
  • ½tsp Garam Masala
  • 2tbsp plain Tomato Sauce
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 100ml Milk
  • 250g Paneer cheese
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot.
  2. Chop the onion, ginger and green chilli peppers and add to the pot. On medium heat, fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the cardamoms and fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add in. Fry for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Slowly stir in the curd and almond paste and let cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the stove and stir in the water.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Blend with a hand blender and return the mix back into the pot.
  9. Add the garam masala, tomato sauce and salt and bring to the boil. When boiling, it should form a thick gravy.
  10. Chop the paneer cheese into 3cm by 3 cm cubes.
  11. Stir in the milk and cubes of paneer and boil for another 5 minutes.
  12. Serve.

 

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31Jul 12

Peas Pulao

Peas PulaoThis tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish. The rice and peas make it quite substantial, so I usually serve it as the main course. (Also try this chicken risotto with green peas.)

According to my mother, who taught me how to cook this dish, the secret to preparing an unforgettable Peas Pulao is getting the right balance of spices. Not everyone puts garlic in their Peas Pulao, but my mother insists on it. She says it balances out the rice nicely. My personal favourite spice to go with basmati rice is ginger. To me there is just nothing like the aroma that ginger can add to an Indian rice dish.

If you have time to let it sit for about 30 minutes, covered, before serving, the flavours will blend together even better and it will taste even stronger. It is one of those dishes that in fact tastes better the next day.

You can prepare this lovely recipe with regular butter, but I use ghee because it provides a unique flavour.

Peas Pulao
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish.
Ingredients
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 3cm of Ginger, crushed finely
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed finely
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1tsp Cumin Powder
  • 3 Cardamoms
  • 3cm Cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 200g Green Peas
  • 2tbsp Cashew Nuts, chopped
  • 1,000g White Basmati Rice
  • 1,500ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tsp Coriander leaves, chopped finely, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pan and stir in the crushed ginger and garlic.
  2. Slice onion finely.
  3. Stir in the onion, cumin, cardamoms, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir and fry all ingredients until the onions turn transparent. You do not need to brown the onions for this recipe.
  5. Stir in the peas and cashew nuts.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer until peas are cooked.
  7. Add in uncooked rice and stir a bit.
  8. Add in the water.
  9. Cover and cook on a high flame for 5 minutes.
  10. Lower heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for 20-25 minutes more.
  11. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

 

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24Jul 12

Punjab Chicken

Punjab ChickenPunjab Chicken is a dish that will go over well with your kids. I’m giving you a mild version of this dish, so if you’re trying to introduce your kids to Indian cooking, they will take to it better. If you start out with anything too hot, your children may be turned off to Indian cuisine altogether, so it is best to start them out with milder dishes. However, if you want to prepare a spicier Punjab Chicken, feel free to increase the quantity of spices. But I do not recommend you increase the turmeric too much, as it is quite bitter, so it will overpower the dish.

This dish calls for drumsticks, which is a much moister part of the chicken than the breast. Some people use the whole chicken leg—that is, the drumstick and the thigh. That is fine, but I prefer meat just from the drumstick for this recipe.

In this recipe, you may substitute ghee with cooking oils such as vegetable oil or sunflower oil. Some might say that punjab chicken is similar to chicken fricassee because it uses chicken drumsticks in a thickened sauce. Of course, I prefer my dish because of the wonderful mix of Indian spices!

You may add in more than 700ml of water if you want. This will give you more sauce at the end, but the thickness is really up to you.

Punjab Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This is a main dish with chicken
Ingredients
  • 2kg Chicken Drumsticks, skinned and chopped
  • 3 Onions
  • 1cm fresh Ginger
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1tbs Ground Cumin Powder
  • 1 pinch of Turmeric
  • 2tsp Ground Coriander Powder
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 100g of Ghee
  • 700ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
  • Bunch of fresh Coriander
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot on a low heat. Be careful not to burn it.
  2. Peel and chop the onions and ginger finely and add to the pot.
  3. Cook them for 10 minutes over low heat until they turn a light golden brown colour.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan with a little water.
  5. Add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander and bay leaves, and let cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Chop the chicken drumsticks into thin slices.
  7. Add the chicken to the pot.
  8. Add in the rest of the water. Make sure there is enough sauce to cover all the chicken pieces well. If not, add a bit more water.
  9. Cook chicken until tender, stirring occasionally.
  10. Stir in the cayenne pepper.
  11. Add salt to taste.
  12. Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.

 

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13Jul 12

Coconut Burfi

Coconut BurfiIt is no secret around my house that I have a sweet tooth. I just love a sugary treat—for breakfast, for an afternoon snack, or for a mid-morning pick-me-up. To me, coconut is absolutely one of the tastiest ingredients in any dessert. (Try it in Grandma’s chocolate tiffin.)

I think I inherited this love of sweet coconut desserts from my mother. In fact, this is one of her favourites to prepare. For this recipe you can use fresh coconut, but it is sometimes hard to grate. I find that buying the coconut already grated from the market is much easier.

Sweet, flavourful and chewy, coconut burfi is one of my favourite sweets. The recipe is simple, the method is very easy, and the taste is absolutely heavenly. Can you tell I love it?

Burfi has a shelf life of about 10-15 days, so you can make it in advance and keep it ready to serve when needed. During the hot summer, you should probably only keep it for about a week because the heat will make it go bad sooner.

Just a quick warning—Coconut Burfi is very chewy, so people with retainers or braces on their teeth should not indulge.

 

Coconut Burfi
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
A fantastic coconut dessert
Ingredients
  • 500g Coconut, finely grated
  • 500g Sugar
  • 300ml Water
  • 2tbsp Milk
  • 20 Pistachios, whole or in slices
  • 4tbsp Ghee
  • Pinch of Cardamom Powder
Instructions
  1. Roast the 20 pistachios lightly in a pan with no oil. Remove them and set them aside.
  2. Heat up 1tbsp of ghee in a pan. Fry the finely grated coconut in this pan. Do not fry it for too long. You do not want it to turn brown.
  3. In a separate pot, boil the water.
  4. When it is boiling, slowly stir in the sugar. Keep stirring. The water with the sugar must come to the boil again.
  5. Now add in the milk and bring to the boil while stirring.
  6. Once it boils, lower to a medium flame and stir until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
  7. When it is syrupy, slowly pour it into the pan with the fried coconut.
  8. Keep stirring on a medium flame until it forms a thick paste.
  9. Grease a rectangular casserole dish with the rest of the ghee.
  10. Now remove it from the flame and spread it in this rectangular dish. Flatten the coconut mixture.
  11. With a knife, cut it into 20 small squares.
  12. Sprinkle a pinch of cardamom powder over the burfis.
  13. Put one pistachio on each square.
  14. Let cool. It is ready to serve!

 

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11Jul 12

Sarkarai Pongal

Sarkarai Pongal
Sarkarai Pongal
is a traditional sweet dish from South India. It is made during the Pongal festival, and symbolically offered to the sun god before being eaten. But you don’t have to go all the way to South India during the Pongal festival to enjoy this tasty treat. I’m going to teach you how to prepare it from the comfort of your own home.

This recipe calls for mung daal, which are mung beans that have been stripped of their hulls. These healthy legumes can be found in speciality vegetarian shops or speciality Indian shops.

You will also need to buy jaggery, a healthy natural sugar, to prepare this dessert properly. The refined white sugar you buy at the supermarket has been heavily processed with many chemicals. Jaggery, however, is naturally processed from sap, without any added stuff. This means it retains all its natural properties and minerals. And apart from being much healthier, it has a richer taste. Jaggery is a bit like buttery molasses.

Preparing Sarkarai Pongal with this sweet substitute will add authenticity to the dish, so it is well worth buying. And, as always, the ghee in this dessert can be substituted for regular butter.

To scoop up all the gooey sweetness in my recipe, I recommend this raisin bread.

Sarkarai Pongal
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Sarkarai Pongal is a traditional sweet dish from South India. It is made during the Pongal festival, and symbolically offered to the sun god before being eaten.
Ingredients
  • 2L Milk
  • 225g Rice
  • 50g Mung Daal
  • 250g Jaggery
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 15 Almonds
  • 15 Cashews
  • 50g Raisins
  • 1tsp Cardamom powder
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 10 strands of Saffron, crushed
Instructions
  1. Bring the milk to the boil.
  2. Wash the rice and mung daal and stir them into the milk once it is boiling.
  3. Cook the rice and mung daal for 15 minutes on high heat.
  4. Grate the jaggery with a regular cheese grater. Use the larger holes on your grater.
  5. Slowly stir in the jaggery and the ghee. They should melt fairly quickly.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  7. Chop up the almonds and cashews very finely.
  8. Slowly mix in the almonds and cashews.
  9. Add in the raisins, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron.
  10. Bring to the boil again and let cook for another 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
  11. Sarkarai Pongal can be served hot or cold. In the summer, I prefer to eat it cold.

 

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28Jun 12

Dum Aloo

Dum AlooDum Aloo is a delicious vegetarian potato dish. It consists of fried potatoes in a thick yoghurt gravy. Since Dum Aloo is a lot like a potato stew,  (try this red lentil and potato bake recipe), it is rather substantial and filling, so it makes for a great veggie meal.

This potato dish goes well with naan bread or even with rice. When preparing this recipe, be careful not to add too much ginger, or it will overpower the entire dish.

The potatoes and yoghurt gravy can be garnished with chopped coriander leaves. This will give the dish a lovely refreshing touch.

Ingredients:

  • 10 small potatoes
  • 4 onions
  • 3tbsp ghee
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2tsp red chilli powder
  • 2tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 250ml yoghurt
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 1/2tsp garam masala powder
  • vegetable oil to deep fry the potatoes
  • 10g fresh coriander

Preparation Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes. (This will cut down on the amount of time you need to fry them later, so it will be less fattening.) Drain them and wait for them to cool before  peeling and cutting them in half.
  2. Fill a pot with vegetable oil and warm it up on high heat.
  3. Once the oil is hot enough, slowly add in the potatoes. Deep fry them until they turn light brown.
  4. Remove the potatoes and set them aside.
  5. Chop the onions very finely. They should be almost minced.
  6. In a pot, heat up the ghee.
  7. Now add the onions and fry them until they are light brown.
  8. Lower the flame. Add the curry leaves and bay leaves to the pan and continue frying.
  9. Now add the ginger powder to the pan and continue frying on a low flame while stirring slowly. Be careful not to let anything get burnt.
  10. Stir in the red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder.
  11. Slowly stir in the yoghurt.
  12. Add the salt.
  13. Now slowly add in the fried potatoes.
  14. Stir in the garam masala powder.
  15. Cover the pot and let this simmer for about 15 minutes on a low flame, stirring occasionally. You will see the gravy get thicker.
  16. Serve hot and garnish the Dum Aloo with chopped cilantro leaves.

Takes: 1 hour
Makes: Enough for 4 servings

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26Jun 12

Chicken Biryani

Chicken BiryaniChicken Biryani is a tasty Indian dish made with a layer of marinated chicken and a layer of basmati rice. Some people alternate and do four or even six different layers, but in my house we always prepared it with just one layer of chicken and one layer of rice.

I have always made this with ghee, which is Indian butter. Ghee can be bought at many speciality Indian grocery stores, or you can try my ghee recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Chicken
  • 100ml Yoghurt
  • 1 Green Chilli Pepper
  • 8 Cloves Garlic
  • 5tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1/2tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1/2tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 500g Basmati Rice
  • 1l Water
  • 300g Ghee
  • 2tbsp Whole Garam Masala
  • 2 Large Onions
  • 4 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
  • 30ml Milk
  • 1/2tsp Saffron
  • Pinch of Salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Chop the raw chicken into medium-sized cubes.
  2. Mix the yoghurt, finely chopped green chilli pepper, ginger powder, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, red chilli powder, coriander powder, and turmeric powder in a big bowl.
  3. Add the chopped chicken.
  4. Let this mixture marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
  5. In a bowl, cover the basmati rice with water. Let it soak for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the rice from this water and rinse it in a strainer.
  7. Fill a pot with 1 litre of water. Add the rice. Bring it to the boil. Once it is boiling, let it cook for 2-3 minutes. You should only cook the rice halfway at this point. You are going to finish cooking it later. Take it off the stove and set it aside.
  8. Melt the ghee in a pot.
  9. Add the garam masala and gently roast it. It will pop in the pot, so be careful not to get burnt.
  10. Chop the onion and 4 cloves of garlic finely and add them to the pot. Fry the onions until they are golden brown.
  11. Add the finely chopped tomatoes to the pot and cook for 3 more minutes.
  12. Add the marinated chicken to the pot and stir all these ingredients.
  13. Make sure all the ingredients in the pot are level and flat by patting them with a wooden spoon. Now add the layer of basmati rice by putting all the half-cooked rice on top.
  14. In a separate pan, heat up the milk and add the saffron. Let them cook together for one minute.
  15. Sprinkle this milk and saffron mixture on top of the rice.
  16. Cover the pot with a very tight lid. Let this simmer on a low flame for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

Makes: Enough for 8 servings

Takes: 2 hours (plus 4-6 hours to marinate the chicken)

Note: Although not Indian, I recommend this hot and spicy chicken with almonds recipe. It´s another tasty chicken and rice option!

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20Jun 12

Lamb Biryani

Lamb BiryaniLamb Biryani is a dish consisting of a layer of marinated lamb and a layer of basmati rice. It is quite tricky to cook both the marinated lamb and the rice to perfection. When you first cook the rice, it must only be half-cooked. When you add it to the pot later with the marinated lamb, it will finish cooking. If you want to get the flavour just right, you must use basmati rice.

Once you get the hang of making sure the lamb and the rice are both cooked perfectly, you might want to try my Chicken Biryani recipe. But just love lamb? Give this lamb roast with garlic and rosemary a go.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Lamb
  • 100ml Yoghurt
  • 2 Red Chilli Peppers, 1 chopped and 1 left whole
  • 1/4tsp Garam Masala
  • 2tsp Ginger Paste
  • 2tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1tsp Chopped Mint
  • 1/4tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 3 Large Onions
  • 500g Basmati Rice
  • 1l Water
  • 1/2tsp Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 200g Ghee

Preparation Method:

  1. Chop the raw lamb into medium-sized cubes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, red chilli peppers, garam masala, ginger paste, garlic paste and mint.
  3. Now slowly stir in the cubes of raw lamb.
  4. Add the turmeric powder and stir.
  5. Peel and chop the onions.
  6. Heat the ghee in a pan on a medium flame and add the chopped onions. Fry the onions until they are crispy and light brown. Do not fry them for so long that they get caramelised.
  7. Remove the onions and place them on a plate with a kitchen towel or paper towel below them. You want the ghee to drain away so that the onions are crispy.
  8. Let the crispy onions cool. Then, add them to the marinade.
  9. Put the bowl in the fridge and let the lamb marinate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  10. Soak the rice for 20 minutes in cold water.
  11. Wash the rice and put it in a pot with 1 litre of water. Bring the water to the boil, then lower the flame and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat and set it aside.
  12. Heat the ghee in the pot on a medium flame.
  13. Add the marinated lamb—with all the marinade—to the pot.
  14. Add the basmati rice on top of this.
  15. Squeeze a little lemon juice onto the rice.
  16. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  17. Cover the pot. Allow it to cook on a high flame for about 15 minutes. Then lower the flame and let is simmer for about 1 to 2 hours, or until the lamb is tender and fully cooked.

Makes: Enough for 6 servings
Takes: 2 hours (plus 6 hours to marinate the lamb)

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15Jun 12

Fragrant Ghee

Fragrant GheeGhee is Indian butter. My mother used to make it, especially in the winter to put on our toast or in Bengali spiced vegetable cakes. My grandmother used to make it from curd, but that takes a lot longer. It is much easier to make it from unsalted butter bought at the supermarket.

The leaves are added in to give it an herby aroma. It really has a lovely fragrance. Although it is usually a solid, it can easily be melted so you can drizzle it on top of your favourite Indian desserts such as Puran Poli. It can last up to 6 months in the fridge, but it’s so delicious, I doubt it will!

Ingredients:

  • 2kg unsalted white butter
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 10 drumstick leaves
  • 4 bay leaves

Preparation Method:

  1. Put the unsalted white butter in a deep-bottomed pan. On a medium flame, slowly stir the butter.
  2. Once the butter is melted, lower the flame. Leave it to simmer on the low flame for a few minutes longer.
  3. Slowly add in the fresh curry leaves. They should not be chopped as you are only adding them for the aroma. Stir slowly.
  4. Next, slowly add in the whole, fresh drumstick leaves. Stir gently.
  5. Finally, mix in the bay leaves.
  6. After some time, the milk will divide into two parts: one solid and one liquid. The clear, liquid butter should rise to the top and the solid portions will sink to the bottom. The solid portions will form little clumps. Leave this on the flame long enough for these solid clumps to turn a slightly brownish colour, but be careful not to burn them!
  7. With a wooden spoon, remove the curry, drumstick and bay leaves. When you do this, you need to be careful not to remove the solid clumps yet. You can just throw the leaves away.
  8. Continue simmering with the solid clumps for a few minutes longer.
  9. Remove the ghee from the flame. Put a sieve over a heat-resistant bowl and pour the ghee through it. This will separate the solid clumps out from the liquid ghee. Be very careful not to let it splatter, as it is very hot.

Takes: 50 minutes.
Makes: 1600ml of ghee.

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