L. Malva silvestris. Ar. khubeiza, Fr. mauve, MEng malve, Eng.holleyhock mallow. Plants of this family are native to the Mediterranean region, Asia Minor and several areas in Europe. The Greeks used them in medicine for their emollient effect. A Greek proverb is that if one has one malva plant in the garden, his home has all the medicine it needs. Perhaps this is because Pliny thought it cured all diseases men contract. According to Apicius, the Romans boiled the leaves like spinach and served them as a vegetable. They used mallow in stuffings for boneless pork roasts and ate the seeds too. The Arab name literally means ‘small loaf’ for the flat round marrow seeds that were added to bread.
During the medieval period, the entire plant was used and consumed to increase urination and thus relieve the kidneys and the bad humors in the bowels. The leaves and flowers are included in salads. The Anon Al-Andalus provides a recipe for jerky with mallow.Alexander Neckham lists it as an essential plant in a medieval garden. The English cooked it with meatballs and cockentrice. Medieval Spaniards prepared purgatories with them. Especially in the 15-16 C, the leaves were applied in a decoction with other herbs to clysters. Actually, the whole plant contains mucilage.
Skin ointments and cough syrups made of mallow have been known throughout the ages. From Saxon times in England through the Middle Ages, mallow was put in bathwater to help wounds heal. See alcea.
[Anon/Anderson. 1962:13; Anón/Huici.1966: 286:164; Apicius/Flower. 1958:III:VIII:79:IV:II:10:99:IV:IV:2:117 etc; Austin. 115-116; Castro. Alimentación. 1996:236; Layton. 1948:35; Pullar. 105; Rickert. 1966:68; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a]
PATINA OF VEGETABLE MALLOWS ADAPTED FROM APICIUS/FLOWER IV:II:10:98-99 PATINA DE CUCURB
enough to line a shallow pan
¼ c olive oil
1 - 1 ⅓c cumin sauce, see below
|Fried Mallow Leaves |
in Bubbling Cumin Sauce
Photo by: Lord-Willliams
Mix the cumin sauce with 1 tbsp olive oil and pour it over the the fried leaves. Bring to a boil and serve.
CUMIN SAUCE1 ANOTHER METHOD ADAPTED FROM APICIUS/FLOWER ALITER I:XV:2:56-57
2 c leaves from lovage, parsley and mint
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp white pepper
½ c honey
¼ c vinegar
1 c broth
1 tbsp flour (optional)
Pour the flour mixture into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.
Without flour this sauce can be used as a salad dressing. With flour it can be served as a sauce to accompany chicken, fish or lamb. With or without flour it can be used as a liquid in which to cook chicken fish or lamb.
 In the absence of lovage use celery leaves.