Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Drain the rice in a fine sieve.
Use a large saucepan to heat the oil over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods. Fry the spices, stirring, for about 30 seconds, or until the cloves are puffy.
Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about a minute, or until the rice is opaque. Add 2 1/4 cups water and the salt, bring to a boil, and cook, covered, for low heat. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, set a heatproof bowl in a small pan of simmering water. Heat the saffron in the bowl for three or four minutes, or until it is brittle. Add the milk and continue to heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot.
Remove the pan from the heat. Drizzle the saffron mixture over the rice. Continue cooking the rice, covered, for about five more minutes.
Remove from the heat, let the rice stand, covered, for about five minutes before serving.