1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, saffron strands soaked in 2 tablespoons of warm milk
Rinse the Basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for about 20-30 minutes. This step will help to achieve fluffy and separate grains of rice.
In a small bowl, soak the saffron strands in warm milk and set it aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pressure cooker, heat the ghee or vegetable oil over medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, black peppercorns, cloves, green cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Sauté for a minute or until the spices release their aroma.
Add the sliced onions and sauté until they turn translucent.
Stir in the chopped ginger and minced garlic, and cook for another minute.
Add the mixed vegetables and mixed dry fruits to the pot. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are slightly cooked.
Drain the soaked Basmati rice and add it to the pot. Gently stir the rice with the vegetables and spices, coating each grain with the flavors.
Add turmeric powder and salt to the rice and vegetables. Mix well.
Pour in the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and let the rice cook until it's almost done and the water is mostly absorbed. This should take about 12-15 minutes on the stovetop and 5 minutes after the first whistle if using a pressure cooker.
Now, gently pour the saffron milk over the partially cooked rice. Do not stir vigorously to maintain the saffron's distinct color and flavor.
Cover the pot again and let the rice cook for another 5-7 minutes on very low heat until fully cooked and all the water is absorbed.