Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat to the pot and cook, stirring rarely, until browned all over, about 5-10 minutes. Searing meat cubes like this is a key to creating the kind of rich, caramelized flavors that make stews irresistibly good.
Add bay leaves, onions, garlic and carrots. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about five minutes.
Sprinkle in the flour and cook until the raw flavor has cooked off, about two minutes. Pour in the water and tomato paste, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is knife tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.
Spoon the stew over potatoes or egg noodles.