1/2 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter + 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons raw cashews, broken or chopped into large pieces
2 tablespoons yellow raisins
1 cup angel hair pasta or thin rice noodles*, broken into 1 inch pieces
2 cups water
2 cups whole or 2 percent milk
few saffron threads
3-4 tablespoons sugar or to taste
1/8 teaspoon cardamom powder
*In the Indian shops, these noodles will be labeled as vermicelli and may come pre-roasted and broken in small pieces.
In a saucepan on a medium flame, add ½ tablespoon of ghee. When ghee is melted, add in cashews and stir continuously until they start to brown. Quickly add in raisins and stir until they plump up. Turn off heat and transfer cashews and raisins to a bowl to cool.
Add another teaspoon of ghee to the pan and add in the broken up vermicelli noodles. Stir-fry them for about 3 to 4 minutes over a low-medium flame, until they start to turn golden brown. To the pan add 2 cups of water and make sure that all of the noodles are just covered. Bring to a boil. Continue to cook the vermicelli noodles on medium heat until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes for semolina noodles and less if using rice noodles. Add 2 cups of milk to the pan and heat over a medium-high flame. When the milk is warm, crush the saffron threads between your fingers and drop into the milk. When the milk starts to boil, add in sugar and cardamom powder. You can use a whisk to help dissolve the sugar and incorporate the cardamom powder evenly. Next add in fried cashews and raisins, reserving some for garnish. Turn off the heat.
Serve warm or chilled with the leftover cashews and raisins on top. Payasa thickens up after refrigeration so just add more milk to loosen it up again when re-serving it or leave as is if you prefer more a of rice pudding consistency.