All pastry ingredients should be allowed to come to room temperature if they have been in the refrigerator. If using yeast: mix the yeast with a few spoonfuls of the warm water.
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder (if not using yeast), Sugar, and spice (cardamom is most common in Eastern Africa). Add the yeast. Mix the water, butter (or margarine, or oil), milk, and egg together. Gradually add this mixture to the flour while kneading into dough. (If not using milk and egg use additional water as necessary.) Knead until a smooth and elastic dough is formed—fifteen to twenty minutes. If using yeast: Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with a cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place If using baking powder, let the dough rest for 40 mins.
Divide the dough into several hand-sized pieces. Roll or press the pieces into circles about one-half inch thick. Cut circles into halves or quarters (or whatever you like). Some cooks (when using yeast) place the doughs on a cookie sheet and let them rise a second time.
Heat a few cups of vegetable oil to 300 degrees Farenheit in a skillet or deep pot. Fry the doughs in the hot oil, turning them until they are golden brown all over. Fry only as many together as can float in the oil without touching one another. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve warm.