Sweet Vermicelli Pudding

4 to 5 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter or high-fat butter
1/2 cup chopped pistachios, plus 1 tablespoon whole pistachios
6 ounces vermicelli noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut, for serving
1 tablespoon raisins, for serving
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, for serving
1 cup khoya (thickened milk solids) or heavy cream, for serving

Crush cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife and remove seeds (discard husks).

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove 1 tablespoon of boiling water and use it to steep the saffron. Keep remaining water hot.

Heat the ghee in a wok or large skillet over medium-high. Add chopped pistachios and cardamom seeds and stir-fry until the cardamom is fragrant and the pistachios begin to lightly brown, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add vermicelli. Cook, stirring constantly, until vermicelli is browned and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and add boiling water and steeped saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vermicelli is tender and all the water is absorbed, about 8 minutes.
Stir in sugar until dissolved and cook 2 minutes more. Serve warm topped with the coconut, raisins, almonds, whole pistachios and khoya.

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