Heat milk in a small bowl until it is steaming. Sprinkle the saffron threads into the hot milk and allow to soak for a couple of hours. (For deeper flavor, you can toast them in a dry skillet for a few seconds first, until they become a little deeper red, but be careful - that is spice-gold you're playing with there!)
Wash the rice several times, until water runs clear.
Drain and then soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain for 20 minutes. (I have, on occasion, done this all in 10 minutes.)
Heat the ghee or clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat. If you are using whole spices, add them at this time and saute for about 30 seconds.
Add the rice and saute gently for 3 minutes.
Add 3 cups of water and the salt. Gently stir rice and cook until all the water is absorbed.
Stir in the saffron milk, dried fruits and/or nuts, ground spices, and sugar.
Cover very tightly, and put into a 325° degree oven for 25 minutes. (Or 300° for 30 minutes, or 350° for 20 minutes, depending on what else you are cooking.)
Remove any whole spices before serving.