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Friday, September 1, 2017

Jason Cage (Jason Cage Series #1) by aKay Brothers – A Book Review




Jason Cage (Jason Cage Series #1) by aKay Brothers 

Books can make you travel places and that is one way it helps in breaking the monotony of life. Last few months things were quite busy at my end and I was hardly getting any time to read anything worthwhile. All the titles I had at hand were not looking very inviting and were pushed away with the ‘read later’ tag. And then I got a mail from the authors of this new book ‘Jason Cage’ for a review and as I read the blurb I was instantly interested.

The authors of this book call themselves aKay Brothers – a pen name under which they are writing a series of books centering around the life of the protagonist named Jason Cage. The book review I am posting today is for the 1st book that has been published recently.

What an interesting and exciting read this book has been! And now I can’t wait for the next book in the series. At first instance, I felt it was a crime thriller, but then there are elements of paranormal fantasy and also some sub plots in historical settings. The best thing about the book is the pace of the story – it builds up interest in the readers and gets them hooked. Even when the settings in the book change, the pace is maintained and that I believe is one of the hallmarks of a good writer.

But, then there is something that needs to be worked upon. I came across a number of editing errors and spelling mistakes in the book that needs to be done away with to enhance the reader’s experience. A tighter editing is recommended for future books.

Jason Cage is a man with a mysterious birth and has a life that is far from normal. He is tormented by his dreams – they are the precursor of events that are about to happen in someone’s real life or in some cases have already happened. But one thing is common - his dreams bring bad tidings. After losing his parents to unnatural deaths and after a stint at a Medical school where he befriends Lisa and Bill, he finally seeks solace in a Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh. Jason knows that his stay there won’t last forever, so he tries to make the most of his time there by keeping a very low profile. But, little does he knows that his dreams will strike him again and he will not have an option but to follow them.

Don – a peculiar creature resembling a lion is Jason's companion and has been by his side most of the time since his birth. The uncanny and peculiar thing about it is that it is visible only to Jason. The author takes us places through Jason’s dreams – sometimes to a time more than half a century ago where a doctor is trying to frame his friend as a blood sucking vampire and then to place where a man meets his death in the most mysterious circumstances after opening a parcel. There is again a sub plot with the settings in ancient Egypt where a man’s folly leads to the rising of the devil.

Amidst all this, there is this dream where Jason sees that Lisa’s (who used be his crush in his college days) life is in danger. That’s when he decides it is time to venture out and save Lisa. But how is he going to do it? He has no idea where Lisa is and to top it, he has no money. How will Jason embark on his journey to save Lisa and will he be able to do it?

Another plot running through the book is that of Dr Dhristi from RAW. After a successful mission of capturing LeT head (seriously that reminded me of the Akshay’s Kumar starter movie –Baby), she deploys her best man to get hold of Jason Cage. Why? That’s a question I am hoping would be covered in the next books.

Just as is expected from books where the story is revealed in a series, there are too many unanswered questions in the first book of the Jason cage series.

What has the Egyptian devil from centuries ago and RAW from the present times got to do with Jason?

How all of these are going to converge to Jason is a thing to read in sequels as and when they get released.

This is a book outside my frequently read genres and it was a welcome change for me. Anyone who is interested in crime thrillers or books on paranormal fantasy will surely find it a great read. If you want to know more about the book, you can visit the author’s website. www.akaybrothers. You can grab a copy of the book on Amazon too.

I received a free r-copy of the book from the authors for an unbiased review.



Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stuffed Aloo Paratha | How to Make Aloo Parathas | Weekend Breakfast Recipe Ideas



Even though we love parathas, they are not a regular thing in my house. They make an appearance on the dining table once or twice a month and that too when I run out of veggies in my pantry. But, we like to have parathas for breakfast when we are travelling or are on a vacation and want to have a filling meal.

When I was thinking about what to post for the 3rd day of  'Special Weekend Breakfast' theme for BM#79, I realised that I have never posted a paratha recipe on this space. So naturally, I decided to post the recipe for one of the most popular parathas that are made in most homes as a special weekend breakfast. It's none other than Stuffed Aloo Paratha.

Let's check out how I make it -

Stuffed Aloo Parathas

Ingredients:

1½ cup whole wheat flour.
Pinch of salt
Water to knead the dough.

For the filling:

2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and crushed
¼ cup of cooked green peas, slightly crushed
1 green chilli, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves.
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp jeera
½ tsp amchur
½ tsp garam masala
salt as per taste

Ghee or oil for shallow frying

Process:

1. In a large bowl, add whole wheat flour, salt and knead the dough using water as needed. Cover the dough and let it sit for at least 15 mins before you proceed with rolling.

2. Heat a pan and add oil. When the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds, minced green chillies and grated ginger. Add the crushed green peas and the mashed potatoes and all the spices and seasoning. Give the mixture a good stir. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix again. Heat it for another 2-3 minutes and then turn off the gas. Take the pan off the gas and let the mixture cool completely before using them to fill parathas.

3. In order to make parathas, take the dough, knead it for a few seconds and divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal sized dough balls.

4. Using some dry flour roll the dough ball into a roti about 3cm in radius. Place 2-3 tbsp of the prepared filling in the middle. Join the edges and close it forming a ball. Roll it again about 6 cm in radius.

5. Meanwhile, keep a tava for cooking the paratha on gas flame. Place the rolled paratha on the tava, when one side is done turn it over and heat on the other side. Brush ghee on the top and turn it over. Brush ghee on the other side as well. Apply pressure with a turning spoon to ensure even cooking.

6. Repeat the same with rest of the dough balls.

7. Serve the parathas with pickle and yoghurt. Enjoy them hot.

BMLogo

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Paneer Veggie Grilled Sandwich | Weekend Breakfast Recipe Ideas


Can you resist the taste of golden, crisp, grilled sandwich with a cup of hot tea?

Grilled sandwiches are a regular fare during weekends in my house. So, on the 2nd day of Week#4 of BM# 79 under my chosen theme of 'Weekend Breakfast Ideas', I am sharing the recipe for a much loved grilled sandwich. I use freshly made homemade paneer in making the filling for this sandwich. However, you may use grated ready to use paneer also.

Let's checkout the recipe below:

Ingredients:
8 brown bread slices

For the filling:
1/4 cup freshly made paneer
3 tbsp chopped capsicum
1 small carrot, grated
1 small green chilli finely minced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp tomato sauce

To assemble:
green chutney
tomato ketchup
butter to grease

Method:
1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the filling and mix. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Set aside.
2. Apply butter on one side of each bread slice. On the unbuttered side of 4 bread slices apply green chutney and on the remaining 4 slices apply tomato ketchup.
3. Take the slices with green chutney side up and spread the prepared paneer filling. Cover with the bread slices smeared with tomato ketchup with buttered side up. Repeat the same with the rest of the bread slices.
4. Grill them on a sandwich maker till golden lines appear on both sides. Slice them into two halves.
5. Serve hot with ketchup and green chutney. Enjoy!


BMLogo

Friday, August 25, 2017

Club Kachori Recipe | How to Make Club Kachori | Special Weekend Breakfast Recipe


Anyone who has lived in Kolkata for a while will know about this quite popular weekend breakfast dish - Club Kachori. This dish is DH's favourite and whenever he is in Kolkata, he doesn't miss to indulge gorging on it for breakfast at a popular snack shop in the locality.

For the uninitiated, the name of this dish can be a little misleading. The kachoris here are not like the khasta kachori which are well known all over India; they are more like bite size puri. But, there is a difference. Into the dough of these kachoris, goes coarsely urad dal paste, suji, little chilli and ginger paste and some hing which gives it its characteristic taste

These kachoris as deep fried and are served with a spicy potato curry. In some places, pumpkin is also added to the curry. Panchporan - a Bengali whole spice mix added in this curry, makes it taste a little different from the regular potato curry.

Typically, maida is used to make the kachoris, but at home, I use atta (chapati flour) to make them.
Without much ado, let's check out how to prepare Club Kachori Kolkata style.

This is the first recipe I am posting under Weekend Breakfast Theme of BM#79


Club Kachori

Ingredients:

For the Kachori/Puri

2 cups atta
¼ cup suji/semolina
2 tbsp oil
¼ cup urad dal, washed and soaked in water for at least an hour
¼ tsp hing/asafetida
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste


For the Potato Curry:

6 medium size potato, boiled, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and pureed
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 green chili, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp hing
½ tsp each of sauf, methi seeds, ajwain, kaloni and rai (panchporan)
1 red chili
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder, or to taste
2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
½ tsp amchur
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp kasuri methi
Handful of coriander leaves

Process:

1.       Drain the soaked urad dal and grind coarsely in a grinder. In a mixing bowl, add the coarsely ground urad dal paste, atta, suji, oil, hing, salt, chili and ginger and using water as need, knead a firm dough. Cover it and set it aside.
2.       To make the potato curry heat oil in a pan, add hing, jeera, red chili, green chilli, ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds. Now add sauf, methi seeds, ajwain, kaloji and rai and stir so that they start crackling. Now add the tomato puree. Cook for about a minute and then add the chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, and coriander powder. Cook for a couple of minutes. When you see oil leaving its side, add the potatoes. Stir. Now add 1 cup of water. Stir and bring it to a boil.
3.       When it comes to a boil, the gravy will also start thickening, add garam masala, amchur and crushed kasuri methi and stir. If needed add little more water, cover and bring to a boil.
4.       Check for spices, adjust if needed. When done, add chopped coriander leaves and take it off the flame.
5.       In order to make the kachori/puri, divide the dough into small balls (little bigger than marbles). These kachoris are about 2 inches in diameter.
6.       Roll them into thick rounds (little thicker than puri). Thin ones do not puff well.
7.       Heat oil in a Kadhai and when the oil is heated enough, fry them 2-3 at a time (depending on the size of your Kadhai) on high heat. When it is brown on one, flip and fry the other side for a few seconds. Drain them on paper towel. Repeat the process till you have used all the dough.
8.       Serve the potato curry with these hot kachori/puri along with a dollop of achar, sliced onion and some tomato and cucumber slices for a filling weekend breakfast/ brunch.

Notes:
1. Do not roll them too thin or too big, else they will not puff well.
2. Always fry these kachoris on a high heat, it helps them in puffing.


BMLogo

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Penne Pasta in Red Sauce with Veggies | Pasta in Red Sauce Recipe


On days when I am not in the mood to cook an elaborate Indian meal with roti, subji, dal and chawal, pastas come to my rescue. They not only make for a filling meal, but can be made relatively faster. The recipe I am sharing today is that of penne pasta in red sauce along with some veggies. I have added just capsicum and sweetcorn, but if you are not pressed for time, you can add many more veggies - anything that catches your fancy.

I always prefer to bake my pasta for the final cooking. First I boil the pasta in water till they are just done. When the sauce is ready and I toss in the pasta, cook on stove top for a couple of minutes and then transfer it all in a casserole, top it with cheese and bake it for 15-20 minutes. I think this way flavour of the sauce seeps into the pasta making it taste great.

I am sharing this recipe under Summer Casserole Dishes Theme of Week#2 of BM#79.



Ingredients

2 cups cooked penne pasta
1½ cup fresh tomato puree
¼ cup tomato ketchup
¼ cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp garlic paste
½ cup chopped capsicum
½ cup boiled sweet corn 
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dry red chilli flakes
¼ to ½ cup grated cheese

Process:

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the butter, followed by chopped onion and garlic and sauté on a medium flame for 2 minutes.
2. Add the chopped capsicum and cook it covered on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fresh tomato puree and salt and cook it for 5-7 minutes. Stir in between.
4. When it looks a bit cooked, add tomato ketchup, oregano, chilli flakes and sugar. Stir well and cook on a medium flame for about 7 to 10 minute. The red sauce should be nice and thick by now.
5. Add the cooked pasta, boiled sweet corn and gently toss everything and cook on a medium flame for 2 more minutes. The pasta should be well coated with the sauce.

6. Transfer the pasta in a casserole that has been pre-greased with butter. Top it with grated cheese and bake it in a preheated oven at 180 C for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot. Enjoy!


Notes:

1. You can add any other veggies of choice like broccoli, mushrooms, baby-corn, etc.

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