Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Chocolate Cherry Cake for July 4th

Chocolate and Cherry

Warm and juicy cherries from farmers market. Unsweetened Chocovic baking chocolate from Trader Joe’s. Hazelnuts from last winter. Combined with all-purpose flour and baked together. This cherry chocolate cake has strong bitter taste. Almost like medicine, and I love that kind of choco-potency. A rare extravagance that puts in a mood for an equally decadent holiday weekend.

A chocolate cake shouldn’t be cloyingly sweet. That is the manthram I applied when I put together the following ingredients. It’s an easy recipe and the results are very bakery like.

Chocolate Cherry Cake:

8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (Chocovic)
2 cups - fresh, sweet cherries
1 cup - all purpose flour
½ cup - sugar
¼ teaspoon each - baking soda & baking powder
¼ to ½ cup - melted ghee
¼ teaspoon - finely crushed cardamom
¼ cup - hazelnuts, finely chopped
9-inch loaf pan

Chocolate: I broke the chocolate bar to small pieces and placed them in a bowl in a microwave oven. Heated the chocolate until it melted to smooth lava like. It took about two minutes of microwave heat and two stirrings for lump-free consistency. (The chocolate can also be melted by double boiler method on stovetop setting.)

Cherries and Hazelnuts: While chocolate is cooling, I removed the pits from cherries using fingers. Cherries were very ripe, so it was quick with fingers, and I didn’t have to use knife or special gizmos like cherry pitter.

Baking Time: Kept the oven at 350 F to preheat. Lined the loaf pan with parchment paper. While oven was getting hot, flour got sifted into a vessel. To the flour, I added sugar, baking soda and baking powder. After stirring with a spoon, I added ghee, melted chocolate, and cardamom powder and combined them well together with a sturdy spoon. Pitted cherries and hazel nuts went in next. Mixing one more time, and then poured the whole thing into baking pan. The batter was fairly dense (see the images below), but manageable.

Placed the pan in preheated oven and baked the cake at 350 F for about 45 minutes. When a fork inserted in the middle of the cake came out clean, I turned off the oven and removed the pan to cool the cake. After the photography session, I finally took a break and had a small piece. Loved the bittersweet experience.


Melted Chocolate and Pitted Cherries…. Dense Choco-Cherry Cake Batter, Ready for Baking


Cooling off - Cake and Kittaya…… Reversed and Ready to Slice - Baked Cake Loaf

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Hazelnuts
Chocolate-Cherry Cake with Hazelnuts ~ for Chocolate Craving

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Cherries, Chocolate (Thursday July 3, 2008 at 10:00 am- permalink)
Comments (34)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life: Infini-tea


Flavors of Life: Infini-tea
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper)

I actually have ALL these flavors of tea in my pantry! The lemon/mandarin flavors are quite refreshing. The berries are better drunk with ice and the choco-vanilla ones with milk. I haven’t figured out how the tropical ones go. Its ‘pretea’ complicated you know. Some (green tea) are to be ‘infused’ and mixed, others plain boiled… The other day I served hot peppermint tea to my old uncle, a connoisseur of beverages and he said “we can do without that one.” Wasn’t Tea supposed to be a refreshing beverage? Like Lipton Taaza… But I even have a ‘SLEEPYTIME’ tea! I am certain it won’t be long before we have coffee flavored tea. :)
By the way there is a tea parlor by the name Infinitea in Bangalore.

~ Sree

Flavors of Life: Introduction
Flavors of Life, Previously:

Banana Vendor by Sree Pumpkin Blossom by Sree Cotton Candy Painting by Sree Tirupathi Laddus by Sree

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tea, Sree (Saturday March 15, 2008 at 12:51 am- permalink)
Comments (1)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Pudina Chai with Gunpowder Tea

Mint Leaves with Gunpowder Tea
Fresh Pudina (Mint) Leaves and Gunpowder Tea

In the midst of pressure-packed day, there is nothing like taking a breather with a warm cup of chai.

I wanted something new that would relax and refresh. Pudina chai sounded soothing.

A glass of water, a teaspoon of gunpowder tea, six freshly plucked pudina leaves and few drops of milk. Ten minutes of gentle simmering on stove-top and then straining out the seeped pudina-tea mixture. There it is, pudina chai sweetened with honey. My for today.

Pudina Tea
A Cup of Pudina Chai to Refresh the Senses

Tea Finds:
Daily Ritual ~ A Cup of Chai
North African Mint Tea (Without Milk)
Green Tea (Gunpowder or Pearl tea) Health Benefits

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mint, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Tea (Friday March 14, 2008 at 6:10 pm- permalink)
Comments (1)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sonti Tea (Tea with Dried Ginger or Chukku)

“Not feeling hungry today?
I will make a cup of sonti tea for the appetite.”

“Ate too much food at the party?
Would you want me to prepare sonti kashayam for better digestion?”

“Food was not good yesterday at the restaurant. My stomach is upset
Have a cup of sonti tea to calm the over working stomach.”

“I am tired and feeling little bit nauseous after the long day of shopping.
You sit there and rest. I will bring a hot cup of sonti coffee for you.”

“My head is hurting with this cold and cough.
There, there, have this cup of hot sonti tea. By tomorrow, you will be like a daisy.”

Sonti Powder and Sonti
Sonti Powder, Dried Ginger (Sonti), and Fresh Ginger

For everything and anything, sonti is the treatment at my home. Sonti tea, Sonti coffee and Sonti kashayam are prescribed to cure and to relieve almost all types small ailments from stomach upsets to cold and cough. Most of the time, they work fine.

Sonti, the dried form of ginger root is equally given importance along with fresh ginger in Ayurveda for its healing properties. Though sonti looks mild and all dried out, it has all the fresh ginger potency and some. When added in small doses, the strong sonti flavor and aroma makes the food energizing and interesting. At our home, if you go back to one generation before us, they’ would start and end their day with a cup of sonti drink. For small ailments, whether one believes in capsules pushed on by multimillion dollar ad blitzes or in ancient medicine, what matters is the trust that the stuff we would put in our bodies could comfort and relieve the symptoms. For us, the magic cure-all potion still hasn’t lost its magic.

Recipe :

From just a pinch to a tablespoon of sonti powder is added to a cup of tea. The amount varies on individual preference and tolerance. We like to add a teaspoon of sonti powder to a cup. Not too much, not too little, you would definitely notice the sonti taste.

To powder sonti, take sonti pieces in a mortar and pound them to smooth powder. We usually prepare powder for one month’s worth and store it in a tight lid box.

To prepare sonti tea and coffee: start the coffee/tea preparation like you normally do. And at the end, add the sonti powder. Simmer or heat few seconds. Pour to a cup and enjoy the tea enriched with sonti powder.

Sonti Tea with Puri and Potato Curry


Sonti is available at Indian grocery shops.
Sonti Recipes: Sonti Coffee, Sonti Kashayam and Chukkuvellam

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Tea, Revisiting Old Recipes (Wednesday January 16, 2008 at 11:00 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Chocolate Coconut Burfi

Chocolate Coconut Burfi

Chocolate is the spoiled brat in the dessert world. There is already loads of sugar and butter in a single chocolate bar. But this delicious diva demands more butter and sugar if you try to make anything with it. There are some occasions where I wouldn’t hesitate to indulge in chocolate tantrums. But today is not one of those, with New Year resolutions and all. Instead I have given a microwave timeout to chocolate. It simply melted and when applied to the coconut burfis, it seemed content. I guess it found a natural fat to cling to. There is no way we can win with chocolate. This is a spoiled brat everybody loves to indulge in.

Dark Chocolate and Coconut Fudge
Chocolate Bar and Coconut Burfis

Recipe:

12 medium sized Coconut burfis
1 chocolate bar of your choice. I went with TJ’s brand

Break the chocolate bar into big chunks. Take them in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave, stirring in-between. Usually it takes one to two minutes for the chocolate to become shiny liquid.

Line a plate with parchment paper or wax paper.

To chocolate coat: Dip the coconut burfi into the melted chocolate with your fingers or with a fork. Completely submerge and cover. Lift, and run a knife underside and to the sides, to remove excess chocolate. Place the burfi on a wax or parchment covered plate. Quickly coat all the pieces in same way. Place the tray in a cool place, or refrigerate. Once the coating firms-up, gently remove them from plate and store them by placing a wax paper in-between.

Coconut burfi coated with chocolate tastes superb and for choco-cocoholics, this is a simple and easy way to indulge in chocolate-coconut cravings.

Coconut Burfis Covered with Chocolate
Coconut Burfis Covered with Chocolate


Chocolate- Coconut Burfi ~ A Satisfied Craving for Jihva: Chocolate at Deepz

Coconut Burfi - Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sugar, Coconut (Fresh), Chocolate, Jihva For Ingredients (Thursday January 3, 2008 at 9:05 pm- permalink)
Comments (41)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Chocolate Drive

Chocolate Country Road, Mahanandi
Sweet Home to Reach and Smiling Moon to Guide
A Chocolate Country Road to Jihva

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chocolate, Jihva For Ingredients (Tuesday January 1, 2008 at 12:50 pm- permalink)
Comments (12)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Chocolate~Chilli~Pecan Mini Cakes

chocolate cake

To the naive palate, cheese is mind numbingly bland. But with few tries, one would know that there are many subtle flavors even in cheese blandness. Same thing with chillies. They are hot, but there is remarkable variation of “heat” among chillies and within any given chilli type. When added to taste, chillies would bring incredible flavor to all types of foods. One example that I recently found out is chocolate. The South and Central American culture often combine cocoa and chillies in recipes and their cuisine is famous for this terrific combination for centuries.

Last weekend, I tried this ancient tradition at my home and baked some little cakes of chocolate-chilli-pecan combination. I went as far as I could go to follow the tradition:). I couldn’t get pure (or good quality) chocolate but was able to buy few bars of dark chocolate. I experimented by adding half teaspoon of pure chilli powder from India, to the melted chocolate. The recipe I followed is from “Bittersweet” by Alice Medrich, is actually for cookies. Recipe title is “bittersweet decadence cookies”, and in her introduction to these cookies she wrote “Ultrachocolatey and richer than sin, slightly crunchy on the outside with a divinely soft center, these are not delicate or subtle, but the jolt of bittersweet is irresistible.”

They were all that and more. Trembling with anticipation, that is how I felt while preparing these little dark delights. The taste was purely out of this world and I give full credit to the recipe that I followed (adapted) and of course to the almighty, all-powerful chilli.


Chocolate, Chilli Powder and Pecan - Ingredients for the mini cakes (cookies)


Mini Cakes Ready for Baking

Recipe:

Flour and chilli:
All-purpose flour - ¼ cup
Pecans - roasted and finely chopped about 2 cups
Chilli Powder - ½ tsp
Baking Powder - ¼ tsp
Salt - ¼tsp
Sift the flour in a vessel and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Sugar and Eggs:
Eggs - 2
Sugar - ½ cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Break eggs in a vessel (I have removed yellows, my preference). Stir in sugar and vanilla. Whisk for atleast 2 minutes.

Chocolate and Butter:
Bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate - 8 Oz (2 chocolate bars)
Unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
Break chocolate bars and chop them finely to small pieces. Take them in a microwavable bowl and add butter. I microwaved the bowl for about 1 minute. After stirring once, I put it in the microwave for another minute. Chocolate melted to smooth and was warm but not hot. (I waited few more minutes for warm chocolate to cool little bit and then added the egg mixture. This is done to prevent egg curdling.)

Mixing and Baking:
Add the egg mixture to chocolate and combine. Stir in the flour and nut mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
This recipe is actually for cookies and the cookbook author instructed to line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop the batter into small rounds and place them 1½ inches apart. And bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, until the surface of the cookies looks dry and set.

I, on the otherhand scooped the batter into tiny aluminum cake pans that I bought recently and baked them for about 20 minutes at 350 F.

End result looked like this and tasted really good.


Mini Chocolate-Chilli-Pecan Cake ~ My Entry to Barbara’s “Spice is Right - Chilli” Event

Recipe adapted from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich
Ebay Listing for mini cake pans - Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sugar, Caffeine,Chicory & Cocoa, Chocolate (Thursday July 13, 2006 at 4:19 pm- permalink)
Comments (37)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sonti Coffee & Sonti Tea (Dried Ginger Coffee&Tea)

Not feeling hungry today?
I will make a cup of sonti coffee for the appetite.

Ate too much food at the party?
Would you want me to prepare sonti kashayam for better digestion.

Food was not good yesterday at the restaurant. My stomach is upset
Have a cup of sonti tea to calm the over working stomach.

I am tired and feeling little bit nauseous after the long day of shopping.
You sit there and rest. I will bring a hot cup of sonti coffee for you.

My head is hurting with this cold and cough.
There, there, have this cup of hot sonti tea. By tomorrow, you will be like a daisy.

Sonti Powder and Sonti
Sonti Powder and Sonti

For everything and anything, sonti is the treatment at my home. Sonti tea, Sonti coffee and Sonti kashayam are prescribed to cure and to relieve almost all types small ailments from stomach upsets to cold and cough. Most of the time, they work fine.

Sonti, the dried form of ginger root is equally given importance along with fresh ginger in Ayurveda for its healing properties. Though sonti looks mild and all dried out, it is some potent stuff. The strong flavor and aroma are really energetic in small doses. At our home, if you go back to one generation before us, they’d start and end their day with a cup of sonti drink. For small ailments, whether one believes in capsules pushed on by multimillion dollar ad blitzes or in age old medicine, what matters is the trust that the stuff we would put in our bodies could comfort and relieve the symptoms. For us, the magic cure-all potion still hasn’t lost its magic.

Recipe :

From just a pinch to a tablespoon of sonti powder is added to a cup. Amount varies on individual preference and tolerance. We like to add a teaspoon of powder to a cup. Not too much, not too little, you would definitely notice the sonti taste.

To powder sonti, take sonti pieces in a mortar and pound them to smooth powder. We usually prepare powder for one month’s worth and store it in a tight lid box.

To prepare sonti tea and coffee: start the coffee/tea preparation like you normally do. And at the end add the sonti powder. Simmer few seconds. Strain. Pour to a cup and enjoy the tea enriched with sonti powder.

Sonti Tea and Sonti Coffee
Sonti Tea and Sonti Coffee - Perfect for Mistress of Spices

Caution: Highly acquired taste
More about Sonti Coffee - here
Sonti Kashayam (Dried Ginger Ale) - Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Tea, Coffee, Ginger & Sonti (Monday June 12, 2006 at 10:58 am- permalink)
Comments (22)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Ranga Alur Puli)

Kova Gulab Jamuns with Sweet Potato

The recipe that was in my mind to be tried is Sury’s sweet potato dessert or Ranga Alur Puli. The fabulous food blogger, Sury from Delhi, not only writes about food but also studies American English. She recently published her first book “Making Out in America” on American vernacular. Congratulations Sury!

Few weeks ago, she blogged this recipe in her blog. The name of this sweet, the way it was prepared and the traditional Bengali aspect, all captured my interest. When I read her recipe, I did imagine the taste and I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Finally today I prepared this delicious sweet.

I did change the recipe little bit. Instead of adding flour and sugar to sweet potato pulp, I mixed it with gulab jamun powder. Also in addition to traditional coconut-milk-sugar fudge filling, I added some chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, just to create variety. I’ve been preparing gulab jamuns in this way, so I applied the same idea here.

Steam-Cooked Sweet Potato
Steam-cooked sweet potato (yam)

Recipe:
(for 15 pieces)
For Dough
1 medium sized sweet potato (yam)
1 packet of gulab jamun powder (100g)
For Filling
½ cup of coconut fudge (coconut-milk-sugar halwa)
¼ cup of chocolate chips - plain and butterscotch
To Deep Fry
2 cups of peanut oil or ghee
For Sugar Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of rose water
¼ teaspoon of powdered cardamom

Sweet potato-gulab jamun dough, coconut fudge, chocolate and butterscotch chips
Chocolate Chips, Coconut Fudge, Sweet Potato-Gulab Jamun Dough & Dough balls

Preparation:
1. Cook the whole sweet potato on steam until just tender. Remove the skin and mash the sweet potato to smooth paste.

2. Take gulab jamun powder in a vessel. Mix it with sweet potato paste. The moisture of sweet potato is enough to prepare a firm dough. After a rest period of 15 minutes or so, divide the dough into big marble sized rounds.

3. Make a dimple by pressing the dough ball with your thumb. Fill the dimple with a teaspoon of coconut halwa(fudge) or with chocolate chips. Cover the hole with dough from the sides; roll into smooth round ball. Prepare all the dough balls like this and keep them ready for deep-frying.

4. Meanwhile prepare sugar syrup. Take sugar and water in a big pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for few minutes (5 to 10 minutes maximum on medium heat). Have a taste and add more sugar if needed. This is just plain sugar syrup, do not thicken the syrup and do not cook it for longer period. Just before turning off the heat, stir in rose water and cardamom powder.

Deep-Frying the Jamuns
Deep Frying the Jamuns

5. Heat oil in a kadai or in a saucepan. Deep-fry the jamuns until golden on medium-low heat. One tip is, keep the heat medium and do not overheat the oil. Deep-fry the jamuns, slowly. The color changes from light gold to much deeper color gradually within 3 to 4 minutes. If the colour changes to brown immediately after dropping into oil, it is a signal that the oil is too hot. In that case, reduce the heat or turn off the heat for few minutes. You need to cook these slowly on moderate heat because the dough should get cooked evenly inside also.

6. Remove the jamuns and place them on a paper towel to dry off any oil that’s attached to them. Quickly and gently drop them into sugar syrup. Take care not to spill the oil into sugar syrup.

7. Keep them soaked in syrup for about 15 to 30 minutes. Jamuns will absorb the syrup and will increase in size a little bit. I would like to serve gulab jamuns cold, so usually, I keep them in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.

Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Ranga Alur Puli) with coconut halwa filling
Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Ranga Alur Puli) ~ For this week’s “Indian Sweets 101

They tasted great, just like I’ve imagined, particularly the coconut halwa filled ones (shown above) and the ones filled with butterscotch chips.

This is my contribution to “Blog Party - Bite Sized Desserts” hosted by dear Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Sugar, Chocolate, Indian Sweets 101, Sweet Potato (Wednesday April 19, 2006 at 10:06 pm- permalink)
Comments (42)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Masala Chai (Spicy Tea)

With winter storm dumping the snow, my brain needed some masala tea. Vijay, my dear husband, makes the best tea and he changes tea flavoring with seasons. For the past week, he is making tea with Indian cinnamon and cardamom.

Cardamom brings the sweet aroma. Whereas cinnamon takes it to another notch and gives the tea a peppery, earthy, bright yet slightly woodsy taste. Heady feeling is what I get from masala chai and I like it.

Tea Leaves, Indian Cinnamon Bark and Cardamom

Masala Chai:
(for two)

1 big glass of water
1 teaspoon of Tea powder
(Preferably, Premium Assam tea, available in most of the Indian grocery shops)
1/2 inch cinnamon bark and one cardamom pod seeds -powdered using pestle&mortar
Milk and sugar or honey to your taste

Pour water into a small pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add the tea leaves. Wait for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the cardamom-cinnamon powder and tiny amount (one tablespoon is plenty) of milk. Mix with a spoon. On medium heat, simmer it away until the color changes from milky white to light brown/tan colour for another five to ten minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, and pour the masala tea into cups, using a tea strainer to discard the tea leaves etc., Stir in sugar or honey to your liking. Enjoy the hot masala chai.

Masala Tea and in the background, our lunch -Puris with Potato Curry
Hot Masala Tea and Pooris with Potato Curry - Warming up on a stormy, snowy day.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Caffeine,Chicory & Cocoa, Tea (Friday December 9, 2005 at 3:42 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Chocolate Covered Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

Sweet sesame spheres or Nuvvula mudda as we call them in Telugu, are powerhouse of sweets, full of body building nutrients. Prepared with love and lot of manual work, they are especially made for pregnant women, children and people who are convalescing. We also prepare them traditionally for a festival called Naagula Chavithi. These kinds of sweets are very difficult to prepare without a stone mortar. That’s why from my recent trip to India, I brought a medium sized stone mortar and pestle from my hometown, Nandyala. I wanted it more than anything and I felt that it is more valuable and needed than the usual stuff that I bring from India, like dresses, sarees etc., Of 120 pounds of luggage that we are allowed to bring to this country, 30 pounds went to this thing. Changed priorities.:-)

Nuvvula Mudda:

5 cups -sesame seeds, powdered
2 cups - jaggery, powdered
1 cup -dry coconut, powdered
1/2 cup- lightly roasted cashews, finely chopped

Sesame seeds made into powder, cashews, dry coconut powder, jaggery

Traditionally, in our home in India, above ingredients are powdered manually, using a stone mortar and pestle. What I did here was, I used a food processor to coarsely powder the sesame seeds and dry coconut. And used a hammer for jaggery.

Then, I pounded these i.e. coarsely powdered sesame seeds, dry coconut and jaggery together for about 30 minutes using the stone mortar and pestle. This pounding process brings out the oils and real tastes of sesame seeds, coconut and jaggery, which is not possible if this was done in a food processor. Also a good strength workout for upper body.

Pounding the ingredients together in stone mortar at my house

I removed this finely pounded mix from the mortar onto a plate and sprinkled the cashews, mixed them all together. Shaped this mixture tightly with hands into medium sized spheres.

Making of Sweet Sesame spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

Viola.. first time making the nuvvala muddalu on my own is a sweet success. I am so happy for finally making these at my home, here in US.

Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

The thing that prompted me do all this is this month’s SHF. For one year anniversary celebration of SHF event, the lovely Kelli of Lovescool chose dark chocolate. She also challenged us to come up with something new and interesting with dark chocolate. So I envisioned the idea of dark chocolate covered sweet sesame spheres. Traditional Indian sweet meets this South American & Western treasure, resulting in wonderful, very delicious and healthy dessert. I think these are very original and are not already created by chocolatiers. Please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

Dark chocolate coating is very easy. I used Lindt’s brand dark chocolate bar. Melted the bar and some ghee in microwave oven and dipped the sweet sesame spheres in melted chocolate. Then refrigerated them for about one hour.

Dark Chocolate Covered Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Muddalu)
Something new - Dark chocolate covered sweet sesame spheres (Nuvvula Mudda).

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Chocolate, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday October 21, 2005 at 6:44 pm- permalink)
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