Chef Bjorn Shen serves Pani Puri with Truffle foam topped off smoked swordfish
The rich culinary landscape of India already impressed Chef Bjorn Shen in the past and his adulation for the diaspora’s cuisine strengthened further when he collaborated with chef Ranveer Brar. The two ace chefs came together with My Singapore Connect, an initiative by Singapore Tourism Board and BookMyShow and rustled up a culinary storm. Bjorn shares his love for pani puris and how they serve it with a twist in Singapore and more. Read on:
What images conjure in your mind when the word India is mentioned?
It’s a burst of flavours, textures and colours! I’ve been to India earlier and I was awed by the sheer variety of cuisines that the country has to offer. The country has such a rich culinary landscape that you need multiple trips to explore it in depth.
What are the flavours that top your mind when you think about Indian cuisine?
I love the diverse flavours that Indian cuisine has to offer, right from its street food to authentic/traditional food served at fine-dine outlets. There is a sort of food revolution happening in India where chefs and writers are re-discovering regional cuisines, focusing on sustainability and indigenous ingredients.
Have you paid a visit to India?
Yes, my recent tour to India was when I had visited Mumbai for the Singapore Tourism Board's collaboration with the St+Art Foundation. It was a memorable experience to learn about local ingredients of Indian cuisine. I got the opportunity to collaborate and co-create a special menu along with Chef Gresham Fernandes at Social for Singapore Weekender. The menu had six dishes which were inspired by my personal journey, connect to Singapore and also my learnings from Indian cuisine.
Singaporean cuisine is influenced by other Asian cuisines, including India. Do you have a favourite Indian dish?
I am a fan of pani puri, I remember relishing it with my bare hands during my previous visit to Mumbai, India. It is not uncommon to find puris in Singapore, as we have many Indian families here as well as other fans of the famous street food. We even serve a puri at Artichoke with truffle foam and it’s topped off with a slice of cold smoked swordfish.
How was it collaborating with Chef Ranveer Brar? Have you two met before?
As part of my association with Singapore Tourism Board for their collaboration with BookMyShow, I got the chance to engage with Chef Ranveer Brar for the first time and we were absolutely thrilled to learn and share about the cuisines from our respective place of origin. Although we did not get a chance to catch up earlier during my previous visits to India, I am grateful to the STB for enabling the conversation and we look forward to meeting in person soon once the international travel restrictions are eased down.
Travel forms one of the primary sources of inspiration for any chef and with international travel coming to a standstill due to the pandemic, this took a backseat. At a time like this, technology and innovation came to the fore and initiatives like My Singapore Connect have helped us virtually travel and engage with experts across miles to broaden our horizons.
Can we expect more future collaboration between you two?
We enjoyed working together for this collaborative initiative by STB and are looking forward to the possibility of future curating something together once again. However, it is difficult to execute the same under today’s difficult circumstances, hence it shall be only possible once the international travel bans are lifted.