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Howard County Times
Howard Magazine

Becky Hadeed, host of The Storied Recipe Podcast, travels the world through food

Late at night, while feeding her newborn son, Becky Hadeed flipped through books on photography and her world opened up. Years later, the mother of four is a podcaster, photographer and blogger who tells stories through food.

From her bedroom turned recording studio in Highland, Hadeed and her Storied Recipe Podcast have traveled from a remote village in Ukraine to the Ivory Coast and northern Iran. Since 2019, she has explored these places through interviews centered on food.

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“I just think it’s such a carrier of culture and family and tradition,” Hadeed said. “Basically, any story a human has to tell can be told through their food.”

The podcast now has listeners across the world, from “every continent except for Antarctica” Hadeed said.

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In her show, she interviews some well-known and some not so well known people in the culinary world about “cherished food memories.” Tony Scotto, an Italian immigrant who owns THB Bagelry, shared his love for spaghetti and clams while Adrian Miller, the James Beard award-winning soul food scholar, offered a favorite recipe for ice box pie. In another episode, she interviews her own husband, John, the son of Palestinian immigrants, about his affinity for homemade spinach pies.

Some subjects she finds through Instagram, others have authored cookbooks she loves. Her only criterion: “I want to know more about their story.” In particular, she’s found that her readers and listeners love “ordinary people with extraordinary stories.”

Hadeed approaches the interviews like “coffee with a friend,” she said. “I’ve had a couple people tell me that coming on the podcast is like going to therapy.”

Conversations tend to get personal, touching on parenting philosophy or how to pursue one’s lifelong dream. One woman shared a story of finding her grandfather’s long lost family in the same country her own adopted sons came from. Each subject shares a recipe close to their hearts, be it Ukrainian varenyky (pierogies) or Persian smoked eggplant.

Online, Hadeed posts the recipes along with photos on her blog. The self-taught photographer, a former math teacher, describes her approach this way: “It’s really a matter of looking at photographs that are better than mine and asking myself: Why are they better? And on the next shoot trying to practice that skill.”

In addition to her usual posts, Hadeed has written about her own strategies for success, including one she calls “One Big Uncomfortable Ask A Day,” a habit of pitching her website to media outlets, educators, potential sponsors and potential guests that she began at the start of the pandemic.

Her own efforts to replicate each dish have changed Hadeed’s approach to food, particularly when it comes to seasoning. Cooks from the historic Silk Road, she says, Northern Africa, the Middle East and India, “have all taught me to embrace whole spices, rather than depending solely on powdered spices, in my cooking,” she wrote in an email.

That’s evident in a recipe for Pakistani chicken korma, which calls for infusing cooking oil with whole cardamom pods, cloves, black peppers and cinnamon sticks. “When you cook your vegetables and protein in an oil infused with these flavors, rather than just adding powders to the sauce at the end, you end up with a deeper, richer, and layered flavor,” she said.

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Another change in her cooking: “I always keep ghee in my refrigerator now.” The clarified butter is more stable than the stick version found in many American kitchens and thus used in many warmer climates. It also doesn’t burn as quickly as butter. Plus: “It’s just crazy flavorful.”

Every recipe she makes gets eaten by her husband and their four children, who range in age from 8 to 17. “They eat it all,” she said. “If they don’t love it, we don’t make it again.”

Hadeed releases new episodes of The Storied Recipe Podcast most weeks; look for them on Apple Podcasts.

Pakistani chicken korma

“This delightfully flavorful, authentic Pakistani chicken korma recipe came to us from my guest Nadia of Journey to Table. This chicken korma has made it onto our regular meal rotation and we now eat it once a month.

For me, the thing that sets Nadia’s korma apart from Americanized recipes is the technique of infusing the oil in which the chicken is cooked with whole spices — cardamom, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and fresh ginger. In our Americanized recipes, we tend to simply add tablespoons of garam masala at the end of everything, rather than the hearty servings of both fresh and ground spices in Nadia’s recipe. The difference creates a far richer, more complex, flavorful, and layered dish.”

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Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 large onion, sliced

3 whole cloves

3 green cardamom pods, whole

3 whole black pepper

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1 inch cinnamon

1 lb. chicken, fat removed, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tbsp. garlic minced or crushed

1 tsp. ginger crushed

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

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1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. chile powder

1/2 tomato, finely chopped

1 tbs. ground almonds or almond meal/flour

1/4 mix of water and heavy cream/milk

salt (I use 1 3/4 tsp.) and freshly ground pepper (1/2 tsp.)

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chopped coriander (to garnish)

blanched almonds (to garnish)

Directions

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1. Heat the oil in a pot. Once hot, fry the onion, cloves, cardamom pods, black pepper pods, for 3-4 minutes until the onion begins to soften and become light golden brown in color.

2. Add the chicken, garlic and ginger and cook together for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add all the remaining spices and 1 tsp. salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

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4. Add the chopped tomato for 2-3 minutes, followed by the milk mixture, and ground almonds.

5. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until oil separates.

6. Open and add garam masala, and taste for salt content (add about 1/4 tsp. at a time)

7. Serve hot, and garnish with blanched almonds and chopped coriander, optional.


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