Note: Pistachio nuts should be blanched. Optionally, same amount of finely chopped walnuts may be used intead of pistachios.
Beat eggs until frothy, beat in sugar and salt. Stir in milk and oil. Sift flour, add half to egg mixture and blend in with wooden spoon. Gradually stir in remainder of flour, holding back about 1/2 cup. Turn onto floured board and dust with some of reserved flour. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and glossy, using more flour as required. Dough will still be slightly sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 2 hours.
Take a piece of dough about the size of a large hazelnut and roll out on a floured board to a circle about 8-10 cm (3-4 inches) in diameter. Gather up dough on one side and pinch, forming a shape resembling an elephant ear. Place on a cloth and cover. Repeat with remaining dough.
Deep fry one at a time in oil, heated to 190 C (375 F) turning to cookevenly. Fry until golden, do not over-brown. As dough is rather elastic, the pastry tends to contract with handling, so just before dropping pastry into hot oil, pull out lightly with fingers to enlarge.
Drain pastries on paper towels. Sift icing sugar with cardamom if used anddust pastries with mixture. Sprinkle with nuts and serve warm or cold. Store in a sealed container.
Alternative topping: Make a syrup with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to the boil when sugar is dissolved and boil for 5 minutes. Dribble syrup onto warm pastries and sprinkle with cardamom and nuts.