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From Food Truck to Jars, Former Curry Cruiser Owner Launches Spicemode

 A promotional photo for Spicemode simmer sauces, sold out of Logan Square.
A promotional photo for Spicemode simmer sauces, sold out of Logan Square.
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Amar Singh

LOGAN SQUARE — A Logan Square entrepreneur is the latest food truck operator to leave his mobile business behind due to red tape, and take his craft to store shelves instead. 

Amar Singh, 36, formerly ran the Curry Cruiser for about a year until the regulatory hassles of running a food truck got to be too much.

"It just got really rough with the city," said Singh. "I got ticketed really heavy toward the end as they [city regulators] were trying to it figure out."

So Singh closed up the Curry Cruiser last year and opted to take the "spice-centric" style he'd developed on the truck and put it into jars.

And so Spicemode was born with three simmer sauces made with Singh's own unique blend of spices.

Like other sauces on the market, Spicemode sauce can be combined with meat or veggies, and simmered until cooked to make a quick, healthy curry.

But Singh wanted to take it to the next level.

"All of these [other] sauces are kind of pureed and not very fresh tasting I would say," said Singh. 'We make ours locally and we also custom blend our spices so everything done is fresh, in house."

In order to get those custom blends just the way he wanted them, Singh took his recipes downstate to an Amish community in the town of Ava, Ill.

While food production rules kept him further away from his creation in Chicago, he said he can be much more hands on in the Amish kitchen, where he helps cook, package and even designed the labeling himself.

"They allow me to handcraft the product," he said.

So far he's created three classic Indian flavors — Madras, Vindaloo and Masala — which can be found at the Dill Pickle Co-op in Logan Square, Olivia's Market in Bucktown and Standard Market in west suburban Westmont.

Singh plans to move on to other flavors soon, such as Thai and Burmese, which is his own heritage.

His parents came to the United States from Burma in the 1960s, and Singh picked up a lot of cooking tricks from his mom.

"I grew up in a household where my mother cooked everyday and we just learned about patience and how to develop flavors, so she definitely is an inspiration for these flavors," he said.

The first batch of Spicemode sauces can also be purchased on the Spicemode website or out of the Spicemode office at 3230 W. Fullerton Ave.

More stores will be added to the list soon, Singh said, which also can be found on the website.