Chicken Arabie : Apricot and Spice Marinade


Gourmand sensations provide plenty of inspiration for perfumers. Witness the savory darkness of truffles in Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, the caramelized popcorn note in Miss Dior Chérie and the milk chocolate notes in Elixir des Merveilles, the recent Hermès release. Likewise, chefs are taking an inspiration from perfumery. The restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain makes desserts that imitate the fragrance of famous perfumes. To be honest, the first time I read about the Gucci Envy scented dessert, the idea sounded outlandish. Yet I recently found myself staring at a package of chicken when a whiff of Serge Lutens’s Arabie which I wore that day inspired me to experiment a bit. Why not take the spicy-fruity idea of Arabie and twist it around a roasted chicken dish? …

Serge Lutens’s Arabie is a rather distinctive woody oriental, a rich and heavy composition of spices like clove, cardamom, cumin and nutmeg dusted over sweet jammy fruit. Supported by a resinous woody base, Arabie is delicately accented with the vanillic note of tonka bean. It is reminiscent simultaneously of a savory spice mélange and a honeyed Middle Eastern dessert. I decided to select a few dominant notes for my chicken Arabie: cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. To imitate the warmth of balsamic notes and the citrusy sweetness of Arabie, I chose orange juice and honey as the basis of the liquid marinade.

Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Submerge chicken in the liquid and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight. Remove from the fridge 15 minutes before you are planning to make dinner. Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Remove chicken from the marinade and arrange in a foil lined pan. Arrange the fruit from the marinade underneath the meat. Smear lightly with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and wrap the foil over the entire arrangement. Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the juices run clear. Remove the foil cover, glaze with the honey-lemon-cardamom mixture and finish in the broiler for a few minutes. The idea is to have the surface brown lightly, without letting it burn. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest while you set the table.

The flavor of the roasted chicken is rather complex, with the citrusy and honeyed nuances playing up the sweet richness of spices. Although vanilla might be seem like an unusual addition, it subtly rounds out the balsamic and savory notes, and much like it tends to do in perfumery, it creates a smooth and voluptuous sensation. The sizzling pungency of garlic cuts beautifully through the sweet and spicy notes. White rice and green salad provide perfect accompaniments to chicken Arabie. My dinner party guests pronounced it to be “exotic,” “reminiscent of Moroccan cuisine.” On another occasion, I substituted star anise for nutmeg, which resulted in a flavor that was likewise appealing—sweet, crisp and floral.

Chicken Arabie (Chicken Marinated with Apricots and Spices) Recipe

Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts

½ cup orange juice
½ mixed dried fruit—apricots, dates, golden raisins
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or substitute 2-3 pieces of star anise)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 smashed garlic cloves
olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

½ tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of olive oil
½ tablespoon of lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar, if you prefer a darker glaze)
a pinch of cardamom

For reference: Serge Lutens Arabie contains notes of cardamom, basil, bay leaves, mandarin, cardamom, clove, cumin, nutmeg, cedarwood, dried figs, dates, myrrh, sandalwood, labdanum, benzoin, tonka bean. Perhaps, marinating the whole chicken and then roasting it over wood chips might produce another interesting variation.

Photo © Bois de Jasmin.  My star anise variation of Chicken Arabie finished with balsamic vinegar glaze.



  • March: Um … can I come stay with you and eat this? Please? I’ll bring some perfume 😉 I could have a change of scenery from chicken nuggets AND my darling children, heh heh… November 10, 2006 at 7:37am Reply

  • benvenuta: I hated Arabie, but this sounds so good (and nothing like Arabie smelled on my skin – chemistry again)! I might make this this evening – only I don`t know if we have any dried fruit! *leaves to check* November 10, 2006 at 7:39am Reply

  • Flo: This sounds wonderful! Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to try it out this weekend. I love cooking so this should be great fun! November 10, 2006 at 7:49am Reply

  • Dusan: I usually have nothing for breakfast except, like you once told me your Dad does, coffee and cigarettes (Cate Blanchett would be a welcome addition :)). But this has got my juices going and because I love cooking and experimenting, Chicken Arabie is the first on my to-try list of recipes. It looks wonderful! And yum-meee!
    Um, you know, March has a point – you could become our resident perfume blogger/cook and invite us all for a nice, wholesome meal every once in a while. So, when’s our first get-together? I have visa to get, plans to make… 😀 November 10, 2006 at 8:20am Reply

  • Robin: You know I’m never going to cook this. I’ll be by with March & Dusan, LOL… November 10, 2006 at 11:59am Reply

  • Marina: I can’t say anything, I can only drooooool! November 10, 2006 at 7:32am Reply

  • violetnoir: How absolutely creative, fun and nourishing! This chicken sounds marvelous. I sense yet another career on your horizon, V. How about the Perfumer’s Guide to Fragrant Cooking? Hey, that’s not a half bad title. :):)

    I’m with March, Dusan and Robin, V! When I come your way to visit my parents, would you mind having me over for dinner???? :):):):) I promise to be a polite and considerate guest, lol!

    Hugs! November 10, 2006 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Lucy: Great idea, to bring the perfumer’s sensibility into experimenting with flavors and dishes in a practical way…your potato salad seemed wonderful too, hope you do this again…would make a great book! November 10, 2006 at 9:18am Reply

  • Laura: Sounds absolutely delicious! I still am glowing from the raves I got after making your saffron yogurt dessert this past summer! I’ll print this out and put it on the list of To Cook!
    Oh, and don’t forget 100% Love in your group of sort of gourmand scents! November 10, 2006 at 11:46am Reply

  • Elle: That sounds absolutely delicious! I’m going to try to adapt it to a vegetarian recipe. And I’m going to add my voices to the others who think you should write a perfume related cookbook. 🙂 November 10, 2006 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Christina H.: your photos of this and your previous dish, that just briefly glancing at your blog, I thought you got these photos from a cuisine magazine! The dishes and the photos look outstandingly professional! I see you love food equally as well as perfume! November 11, 2006 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Marina, it was a fun experiment for me, and I have made it a few times already. November 11, 2006 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Dusan: Yey, what a fantastic company of people I would be dining with 😉 ! And not only would I help with the washing-up, I’d be only too happy to help with cooking as well! Ah, what a lovely idea…
    Hugs! November 11, 2006 at 8:32pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: March, you are welcome to visit anytime! 🙂 November 11, 2006 at 7:25pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Benvenuta, you can bake it with apples or other firm fruit too. It works really well, and apples and cardamom are a perfect match. November 11, 2006 at 7:26pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Flo, so do I. It is wonderful to experiment. Please let me know how it turns out. November 11, 2006 at 7:27pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Dusan, I am not much of a breakfast person either–a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of fruit is usually all I have. Rarely do I go for something a bit more involved. I prefer to have a larger lunch. Get your visa ready then! I am going to wait for you and March. Just be prepared to help me wash the dishes. November 11, 2006 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Lucy, thank you! Flavour and fragrance are connected, and it is wonderful to experiment a bit. I like the idea of cooking with essential oils, but it is almost impossible to find the food grade quality. Thankfully, there are plenty of other ready available ingredients to play with. November 11, 2006 at 7:32pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Laura, you’ve reminded me of rose and chocolate pairing–a great idea. I made something that focused on that combination this weekend. I am glad that you loved the mousse. It is very easy to make, but the results make it seem as if you worked much harder than you did in reality. November 11, 2006 at 7:34pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R, come on over and this shall be your birthday dinner dish! 🙂 Hope that you had a wonderful time with your family. Happy Birthday once again! November 11, 2006 at 7:35pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R (violetnoir), I will be anticipating a visit from you too then. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words! One never knows what ideas might arise from this. For now, I am enjoying my experiments very much. November 11, 2006 at 7:36pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Elle, you can use the same marinade recipe for vegetables (butternut squash, corn, sweet potatoes, eggplant, carrots would work really well). If you end up using vegetables, then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your marinade. Thank you for a lovely compliment! November 11, 2006 at 7:38pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Christina, thank you very much! I loved taking these photos, especially since I so rarely get to try my hand at it. Yes, I love food. My cookbook collection is the only thing that can rival my perfume library. November 11, 2006 at 7:40pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Dusan, sounds great to me! So, when can I expect a visit? 🙂 November 12, 2006 at 11:27pm Reply

  • Dusan: How about this weekend? 🙂
    Ah, Vika, if only things were simpler, and by that I don’t just mean renewing my passport and getting visas… Believe me, there is nothing I would like more than to meet you and this kindhearted, perfume-loving folk over a steaming Chicken Arabie and a glass of wine (um, make that a bottle heh heh), while discussing perfume and admiring your collection 😀 But as it is, the chances of my travelling anywhere abroad in the next year or two are pretty slim 🙁 Still, who knows what the future holds…
    In any case, thanks for the invitation :-D, you are a sweetheart!
    Hugs November 13, 2006 at 4:25pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Dusan, I hope that a big get together might be in cards at some point in the future. It would definitely be a lot of fun. 🙂 November 13, 2006 at 10:58pm Reply

  • Kathy: Thank you for this, Ms. Victoria! I fixed this, using the star anise-balsamic vinegar variation. A keeper recipe because regular cooks will have the ingredients on hand, and it has the *wow* factor without making 10 used dishes nor taking hours of active preparation time. I served it on a bed of mixed greens with rice on the side. Yum! January 6, 2022 at 12:59pm Reply

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