Known also as Payasam, Kheer is a richly delicious and very famous Indian rice pudding. It's naturally thinner and not as sweet as typical American rice pudding. The addition of Kashmiri Saffron adds depth and elegance to this Indian classic. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
Wash the rice until the water runs clear then soak in water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and rice, stirring constantly for a minute or two.
Add 3½ cups milk. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium, cooking and stirring frequently for 7-10 minutes or until the rice is just barely tender.
While rice is cooking, heat the remaining milk to hot. Remove from heat; add the saffron letting it steep in the hot milk.
Once the rice is just barely tender, add saffron-milk and sugar to the saucepan. Cook the kheer over low heat for approximately another 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently. As the milk is absorbed, the kheer will thicken.
Remove from heat; let the kheer rest for 30 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
To serve, remove cinnamon stick and cardamom pods if desired; garnish with chopped almonds and a few Kashmiri Saffron threads.