In a 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir-fry until golden. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water, bay leaf, tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat so that the rice just simmers. Cook undisturbed until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand covered without stirring for 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork, discard the bay leaf, and serve.