I wanted to kick off my week of Easy WFPB Meals with a dish that was both gorgeous and packed with flavor. These Indian-Spiced Split Peas with Black Rice and Caramelized Oyster Mushrooms are proof that WFPB eating and weight loss doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or difficult. This whole dish can come together in just about 25 minutes, and the best part is that the main star of the dish can be cooked in the Instant Pot. 


As you know, I’ve been on a weight loss journey, and instead of telling myself what I can’t eat, I’ve made a list of items that I want to make sure that I get in every meal: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, greens, and whole-plant fats. I’ve “abbreviated” or short-handed this paradigm or checklist to “A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”. It’s not perfect, but It’s helping me crowd out the foods I don’t want to eat with the foods that I do want to eat.

“A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”

I came up with a paradigm, or a checklist to help me plan my WFPB meals. The not-so-catchy name of which is “A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”. Admittedly, the name needs work, but the practice of using it has been working  great. 

My goal is to plan meals that have each of these components: 

  • A “Grain” can be any type of whole grain or starchy vegetable that adds fiber and substance to your meals. For my purposes, a “grain” can be anything from whole wheat used to make bread, to brown rice, to even quinoa, and sweet potato.
  • A “Bean” can be any type of bean, legume, or pulse. Although most plant-based foods do contain some amount of protein, a “bean” represents an overt source that is both fiber and protein dense. Ideally the “bean” is in its whole form, but tofu and bean pastas check this box as well.
  • A “Veggie” can be any non-starchy vegetable that adds bulk, flavor, and nutrition to the dish. Think broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, and peppers. Although starchy veggies are great, in terms of their function in the meal, they tend to fit better into the “grain” box. Mushrooms are also a great addition to meals, and for what I’m trying to accomplish, mushrooms fit into the “veggie” box as well.
  • A “Green” can be any type of leafy green, added to the dish either during or after cooking, or left raw. Not only are greens great for adding nutrition to the dish, they are also great for flavor and texture. Greens can be the bulk of a meal like in the case of kale salads, or an accent to the dish in the case of spinach or arugula added to soups and curries just before serving.
  • A “Seed” represents a whole-food source of overt fat. Avocados, smashed, sliced, or guac’d are great. As are various types of nuts, seeds, and their derived butters. Coconut products like milk, flakes, and butter also add a ton of flavor and body to various dishes

Key Ingredients:

Now that you know the system, let’s look at what foods in this dish check which boxes:

  • The “Grain”  – Black Pearl Rice from Lundberg is my current rice obsession. I love the texture and the lightly floral aroma. It’s incredible, and just happens to be higher in protein than many other rices.
  • The “Bean” – Green split peas aren’t just for soup anymore. Although you could totally eat this dish as a soup. You could also use split red lentils if that’s what you have on hand. Just make sure whatever pulse you use, make sure it’s split.
  • The “Veggie” – I’ve tried this dish with roasted broccoli, and it’s amazing. However, my current obsession is oyster mushrooms. I know they are not technically a vegetable, but for all intents and purposes, the oyster mushrooms function as the “veggie”. If you aren’t buying it, then there’s also carrots, onion, garlic and celery in the dish.
  • The “Green” – Within the past week, I’ve made this dish probably 3 times. Every other time, I’ve used kale. I just happened to have arugula on hand from my CSA this time, so that’s what I used. 
  • The “Seed” – Instead of adding nuts or seeds to the dish, which would also be excellent, I chose to use coconut milk as the fat in this dish. I love the creaminess that it gives to the split peas, as well as the way it tames down the spices a bit and adds just a hint of coconut flavor.

Additional Ingredients:

  • Kulambu Chilli Masala – I love this spice blend so much. It has the perfect amount of heat, and it’s so rich in flavor. You could use your favorite curry powder blend, or check your local Indian markets to see if they carry it. I’ve also posted a list of the spices below if you wanted to take a crack at trying to make a similar blend at home.
  • Coconut oil – I like to use a bit of oil when cooking with spices. The fat in the oil helps the spices “bloom” so  that you get the full intensity of the spice. Not a fan of oil? Skip it. 
  • Onion – Name a savory recipe without it. I’ll wait.
  • Carrot – Grating carrot adds sweetness to help balance out the flavors in the dish without having to add any sugar or sweetener. 
  • Celery – The “trinity” of onion, carrot, and celery is the base for so many dishes. Celery has a good amount of umami as well, so it just helps to boost the flavor of the dish.
  • Garlic – I’m Italian. And garlic is just good.
  • Better Than Bouillon – I love the “No Chicken” flavor of Better Than Bouillon, but truly any veggie broth or vegan bouillon will work here. I prefer using a bouillon paste because I can increase the intensity of the flavor by adding more to the dish. 
  • Raisins – Like the carrots, the raisins add a bit of sweetness to the dish. I also really like the way that the raisins plump up, and create the little sweet and savory bursts of flavor.
  • Oyster mushrooms – By far my favorite mushroom, oyster mushrooms give a nice shredded meat kind of vibe to the dish. When cooked and caramelized, they have such a deep and rich flavor that can’t be beat. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, just leave them out. If you can only find button or cremini, then just use those. The key, however, is just to make sure that you cook them with enough room in the pan, and don’t move them until they have started to get deep golden brown.

Aachi Kulambu Chilli Masala – Mixed Masala

I came across this spice blend by accident, and I’m forever grateful that I found it. The brand is Aachi, and the name of the blend is called Kulambu Chilli Masala. Here is an AFFILIATE LINK to where it can be purchased on Amazon. If you have an Indian market where you live, there is a good chance they carry it, or will have something very similar. 

If you wanted to try to recreate it on your own, here are a list of the ground spices:

  • Red chili powder
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Mustard
  • Pepper
  • Fenugreek
  • Cumin
  • Curry leaves

Indian-Spiced Split Peas with Black Rice and Oyster Mushrooms

5 from 2 votes
Easy Instant Pot Indian-Spiced Split Peas with Black Rice and Oyster Mushrooms (WFPB, GF, Oil-Free Option)
Easy Instant Pot Indian-Spiced Split Peas with Black Rice and Oyster Mushrooms (WFPB, GF, Oil-Free Option)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins

As delicious and decadent as it is wholesome and easy to make, this hig protein WFPB dish can be served as a soup or as a hearty curry over rice.

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Michael Monson
For the Indian-Spiced Split Peas:
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut or olive oil (optional)
  • ½ cup diced onion or 1 large shallot
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, grated
  • 1 celery rib, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Kulambu Chilli Masala*, or your favorite curry spice blend
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried split peas or split red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups water or broth
  • 1 heaping tablespoon vegetable Better Than Bouillon or enough vegan bouillon to make 4 cups of broth
  • ¼ cup raisins or dried currants
  • ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup lightly packed greens of choice, torn or cut into small pieces
For the Golden Oyster Mushrooms:
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut or olive oil (optional)
  • 2 cup torn or chopped oyster mushrooms (or mushrooms of choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
For serving:
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked black rice or whole grain rice of choice
  • finely chopped greens for garnish
  • coconut milk for drizzling
To prepare the Indian-Spiced Split Peas:
  1. Turn your Instant Pot or multi-cooker on to the sauté function. Add oil (optional), diced onion, grated carrot, and grated celery. Sauté for about 4 or 5 minutes until the veggies soften a bit. Add garlic, masala, and tomato paste. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes until very fragrant, making sure not to burn the spices or the garlic.

  2. Add split peas, water, and bouillon. Stir and taste for seasoning. The broth should be very flavorful, and borderline over-seasoned.

  3. Cancel the sauté function, and set your IP to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Place the lid on securely, making sure the seal is in place, and the release valve is st to lock.

  4. When the 20 minute cooking time is up, you can “quick release” the pressure or unplug your machine and allow it to release the pressure naturally. Carefully remove the lid, and stir in the coconut milk and greens.

To prepare the Golden Oyster Mushrooms:
  1. Heat your skillet or pan to medium-high heat. Add the oil and the mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to cook and caramelize, trying not disturb them too much so that they can develop a deep caramel color. When they appear to be almost done, sprinkle the mushrooms with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:
  1. Prepare rice according to package directions.

  2. Place ½ to ¾ cup of rice in the center of a bowl. Flood the remainder of the dish with the Indian-Spiced Split Peas. Top the rice with the caramelized mushrooms. Drizzle the entire dish with a bit of coconut milk, and sprinkle with finely chopped greens. Serve with a nice bright hot sauce on the side.

Recipe Notes

Kulambu Chilli Masala can be found at Indian markets or HERE (affiliate link)