Soak rice in three cups of water for half an hour. Drain. Soak saffron in two teaspoons of water. Heat oil in a kadai and deep-fry the onions till golden and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.
Bring four-and-a-half cups of water, black cardamoms, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, dry ginger powder, fennel seeds, asafoetida and salt to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes or till reduced to three cups of stock. Remove from heat and strain the stock.
Discard the spices. Heat ghee in a deep pan; add cumin seeds and cardamoms. When the cumin seeds change colour, add soaked rice and the stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook till the rice is almost done.
Gently stir in the paneer cubes, raisins and cashew nuts. Sprinkle soaked saffron and fried onions over the rice. Cook on dum for another eight to ten minutes. Serve hot.