Heat the shortening (or lard) in a saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are translucent - approx. 5 minutes.
Stir in the cumin and bay leaves and cook until the cumin becomes fragrant - approx. 2 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to coat with the shortening or lard. Add the water and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about 18 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand, covered, for about 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, discard the bay leaves and serve.