Put all but 1/2 cup milk into a heavy pan and add salt and sugar. Put on to heat gently, stirring to dissove sugar. Blend cornflour into reserved milk with the 1/4 cup water and pour into warm milk, stirring constantly. Add almonds and keep stirring until mixture thickens and bubbles. Use a whisk if mixture becomes lumpy. Add cardamom to taste and the pounded saffron. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, letting pudding simmer very gently. Stir occasionally.
Pour into 6 or 8 individual sweet dishes, spreading evenly. Sprinkle pistachio nuts around edge of each dish. To serve firnee in the traditional manner, the pudding should be poured into two plates, decorated with pistachio nuts and cut into quarters to serve in wedges.