Muvattupuzha: There was no room for second thoughts on including her, when they had tasted the sweet and tasty payasam made out of the severely bitter, bitter gourd and also the very sour, irumban puli (averrhoa bilimbi), made by Mary Cherian. Now, who are "they"? They are none other than the officials of Limca Book of Records. Mary Cherian, wife of Mr. K. J. Cherian, from Kochumuttam in Muvattupuzha, loves to spend her spare time experimenting with payasams, and that too, with ingredients that are not among the conventional ones used to make the sweet kheer that few others would dare to attempt. It took only a few hours for her to prepare around hundred and fifty varieties of Kheers using items like Chinese potato, mushroom, nutmeg, gooseberry, idiyappam, bract of jackfruit and even a few medicinal plants!
Mary has prepared payasams with multiple fruits, (Pancha phala payasam), coconut inflorescence, coconut sprout, banana flower, mango, pineapple, bamboo seeds, jalebi, hog wood, brahmi, spinach, and the list, in fact, is very long. And there's more in the department of unique features—sugar and jaggery has no place in Mary’s list of ingredients. Instead, molasses (Karippetti), sweet toddy (Neera) and honey are used to provide sweetness to these mouth-watering payasams.
We say that everything is theoretically impossible until it’s done. So, for making the impossible, possible, along with creativity, Mary has also got some tips in her pocket. Before preparing the bilimbi payasam, bilimbi, which is the main ingredient is processed into a sweet dish using honey and slaked lime (calcium hydroxide). Bitter gourds also get transformed into another sweet dish before the actual preparation starts. Mary dedicates her achievements to her mother, from whom she has received the amazing genes of culinary skills. Earlier, she had secured the first prize in the ‘Payasam Competition’ conducted by Vanitha in the years 2011 and 2014. Her passion for cooking doesn’t end here. Mary Cherian has two published books on cooking to her credit too.