My life and mission in a few bites
My name is Leena Saini and I’m a lifelong foodie who grew up eating Indian and other ethnic dishes from around the world. I started cooking with my mom at age 10, learning how spices like turmeric and mustard seeds could transform even simple potatoes into a mouth-watering, full-flavored curry.
After graduating from law school, I practiced civil defense litigation for several years in upstate New York. It was a career that munched away at my soul. Then, in 2005 I lost my best friend and mother to ovarian cancer. I was more than devastated. I picked up and moved to New York City to start life over, deciding not to waste time on things I wasn’t passionate about. I landed a job and developed my inner foodie, sampling cuisines from around the world, attending restaurant openings, talking to chefs, and otherwise eating my way through the boroughs and their ethnic enclaves. Living, working and eating in New York City brought me closer to my true self and opened the door for the new journey of marriage and motherhood that was about to begin.
Fast forward to life in New Jersey with my husband and children. When my eldest daughter, Kirina, refused to eat anything bland as a baby, I was inspired to make her food better by using spices, seasonings and diverse ingredients from around the world. It was such light-bulb moment. Nurturing tiny taste buds became an obsession! So much so that it led to a blog and a baby food cookbook, Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food (Quirk Books, 2016).