Heat the oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Once melted, add the spices. Cook the spices in the oil until they start to become quite aromatic, about 2 - 3 minutes. From there add the garlic and onion/shallots and cook another 2 minutes or so.
Add the beans, rice and veggies and give it a quick stir to ensure the spices are evenly coating the rest of the ingredients. Pour in the liquids and stir in the bay leaves.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover and cook for about an hour. Remove the lid, give the mixture a good stir and add a touch more liquid if desired.
When ready to serve, portion out between bowls. Top with cilantro and coconut yogurt if desired.
* for this recipe, you can use any blend of veggies! I did 1 cup each of carrots, zucchini, cauliflower and spinach. Use any blend you like, but try to avoid nightshades!