Monday, December 1, 2014

Polygonum Cognatum a.k.a. Madımak

  • Madımak is a weedy creeping plant and seen as an invasive troublemaker by the farmers. 
  • Poly means 'many' and qonu means 'knee' in Greek. It's fun to find out the reference: The plant has a swollen jointed stem. 
  • Madımak is native to Turkey, Georgia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the plant appears in dense clusters with pink, white or greenish flowers with the arrival of spring.
  • Madımak was classified in the polygonum family in London after samples were shipped to the experts there in 1949.

  • It's not known how exactly madimak has made it to the Turkish cuisine but I guess the knowledge that madımak is edible was carried into the Central Anatolia along with the Turks upon their arrivals in the region from Asia long time ago. 
  • Even in Turkey, madımak isn't widely consumed despite the recent 'Keep calm & Eat local' trend. It's picked by the local people in a few towns - Sivas, Yozgat and Tokat basically. 
  • However, madımak is a legend in the region and has a long history of usage. The local people have come up with several recipes using madımak varying from madımak with bulgur to steak stuffed with madımak, apricots and nuts. 
  • It's easier to find madımak at the farmers markets in big cities, both fresh and dried. 
  • Madımak has even inspired the local musicians to some well-known songs in Turkey. Cool, isn't it? 

Well, I haven't come across any studies or research involving the health benefits of madımak, however, it's been claimed that 
  • madımak can help reduce the symptoms of diabetes and kidney stones. The tea made with the dried knots of the plant is known as effective in treating stomach and intestine disorders and used as an antiseptic against dysentery. 

Polygonum cognatum herbarium specimen from Kew, VC17 Surrey in 1877.

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