Pumpkin and Mandarin Chutney with Orange Blossom Water
200 gr of pumpkin flesh
4 candied mandarins or mandarins in heavy syrup
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon of mace or nutmeg
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of cardamom
100 ml of vinegar
100 ml of orange blossom water
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Melt the butter and warm the spices. Add the pumpkin flesh, diced in 1 cm cubes. Increase heat and sauté. when pumpkin has softened add sugar, vinegar and orange blossom water. Lower the heat and simmer until the has softened. Then add the mandarins chopped in small pieces. Cook over low heat for another 3 or 10 minutes. Let it cool and enjoy an edible version of Mandarine Mandarin.
If the name predisposes for a citrus scent, prepare to be surprised. Of all the Serge Lutens releases that I have tried this is probably the most unconventional. It opens with a hint of candied mandarin, not the fresh, tart variety. Just a hint. Because then an intense vinegar note hits you in the face making this definitely a gourmand. An unconventional gourmand. Spices mix with vinegar, mostly cumin, giving this an oriental twist. The composition at this stage brings to mind plain old ketchup. And then orange flowers emerge transforming this into a thick, creamy floral. Orange flowers is not my favourite note in a fragrance. In fact it is a dreaded one. It usually makes me think of urinals to the point that I have to wash the dreaded stuff off my skin. But this is the only orange blossom scent that I actually enjoy wearing. In a strange way the vinegar prelude and cumin carpet draw my attention from the pissy undertones and I enjoy the creaminess of the blend. In fact the composition is so interesting that I believe Mandarine Mandarin is to orange blossom what Tubereuse Criminelle is to tuberose.
The intensely edible aspect of the opening made me want to try and recreate this in a dish and chutney seems to be the perfect genre for this. It allows mixing sweet and sour into harmony. I used butter to recreate the creaminess of the base. Mandarins should preferably be candied because that’s the way this fruit is presented by Serge Lutens here. I used mandarins in heavy syrup, what we call “spoon deserts” in Greece. All sorts of fruit and sometimes vegetables (like pumpkin, carrots and green unripe aubergines) are boiled in heavy syrup until they become waxy and crunchy. This way a huge range of cholesterol free deserts is generated and they make an excellent topping for icecreams as well. The most rare and unusual one I have tried is lemon flowers preserved in heavy syrup, from the island of Chios. The smell of vinegar was intimidating while I was preparing the chutney but when it cooled down it gave just the right kick for this chutney.
Notes from Fragrantica: nutmeg and chinese orange, mandarin orange, tea and orange peel, labdanum, amber, tonka bean and rose hip.
Notes from my nose: mandarin, vinegar, ketchup, cumin, spices, orange flowers