Add the whole spices to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and add to the boiling water. Bring to a boil and cook for 4~5 minutes or until the rice is 85%~90% cooked through. Drain the water and set the aside to cool slightly.
Dry fry cashews, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and poppy seeds until lightly golden and aromatic. Cool slightly and grind to a powder. This can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Heat oil in a pan, add shahjeera, star anise, bay leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Next add green chilies, onion and mint leaves. Cook for 3~4 minutes or until the onion turns translucent.
Next add ½ cup brown onions, turmeric, ginger+garlic paste and salt. Cook for 2 more minutes.
Stir in the veggies and cook till tender, about 8~10 minutes.
Season with salt, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin and the biryani masala.
Next add yogurt and tomato. Cook till the tomato is mushy, about 5 minutes. Turn off the stove and add the lemon juice.
Lightly spray cooking spray in an oven safe pan or a pan to cook on the stove top.
Spread all of the vegetable mixture on the bottom, followed by some of the remaining brown onions and all of the cooked rice. Top the rice with lemon juice, the rest of the brown onions, chopped cilantro, mint and the saffron milk. Cover tightly with a foil or a tight fitting lid.
Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 15~20 minutes.
Alternately cook on the stove top on medium-high heat for 3~4 minutes, then on low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes before serving.