Heat oil in thick-bottomed casserole. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent.
Add rice and stir in warm oil for a minute or so.
Add water, bouillon crystals, spices, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover casserole and cook gently until the rice is tender and all the water is absorbed (17 to 25 minutes).
Let rest 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour boiling water over raisins and soak until plump. Drain.
When rice is done, remove bay leaf. Drain the raisins and stir into the pilaff, with the toasted almonds, before serving.