February 28, 2010

St P’s Welsh Dragons say Happy St David’s Day and Happy Holi!

happy holi

Today’s post is dedicated to the spring festival Holi and the patron saint of Wales, St David. Today is the first day of the Indian festival of colours, Holi (which can last up to sixteen days! Now that’s my kind of festival). Tomorrow is St David’s Day (I bet Wales will be buzzing!)

One way in which Holi is celebrated is through the burning of Holika, the sister of the king of demons Hiranyakshapu and aunt of Prahlada. Hiranyakshapu prayed for thousands of days and nights to Lord Brahma (the creator) in order to be granted a boon. He asked to be worshipped as God himself; to be protected from dying ‘during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or on sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by asthra (a weapon) nor by shastra (sacred means)’.The story states that Hiranyakshapu’s young son Prahlada, a devotee of Lord Vishnu (the preserver) was ordered by his father to sit on a pyre, on the lap of his aunt Holika (who was to be protected from flames by a magic shawl). Magically, Prahlada was protected by his beloved Lord Vishnu due to his constant chanting of ‘om namo bhagvate Vasudevaya.’ These submissive words of love to Lord Vishnu moved the protected blanket onto the young child, perishing Holika in the process. Don’t feel bad, it was in her karma to die this way. And she was the sister of the demon king. She had it baaaaaaaaaaad.

In the end, Lord Vishnu appeared on earth as Narasimha. He was not a man or an animal. He was half man, half lion. He didn’t kill Hiranyakshapu during the day or at night. He killed him at dusk. He didn’t kill him inside the home or outside. He killed Hiranyakshapu on the terrace of his home. He didn’t kill him on earth or in the sky. He was killed in the lap of Narasimha. He did not die by either asthra or shastra. He died by the deadly claws of Narasimha himself. If you are interested in learning a little more about these stories then the Vishnupuran DVD’s are really good for kids and adults alike.

This is just one story of Holi; others state that Lord Krishna innocently complained to his mother about the dark colour of his skin. He protested that his love, Radha had beautiful fair skin and so his mother coloured Radha’s face in bright, beautiful colours. This is one of the reasons for the charming ‘throwing of coloured powders in each others faces’ celebration during Holi. Fun, right?

Holi is celebrated in so many different ways throughout the East Asian subcontinent by Hindus, Buddhists Jains, Sikhs and many other religions for numerous reasons. I’ve just shared with you what I know about the Hindu Holi celebrations. For many regions, Holi is also significant for agricultural reasons (harvesting crops etc). If you know any more about Holi or St David’s day then please leave lots of interesting comments… I’d love to hear more stories!

Okay, so that was a pretty brief explanation of what I know about Holi (I know it’s hard to believe seeing as though I blabbed on for such a long time). Now, I bet it has already dawned on you that I know significantly less about St David’s Day. However, I do know that he was a vegetarian. See, we have some things in common. We both love leeks. That’s pretty much it really. Okay, so that’s all I know about St David and his day. Please can some compassionate soul educate my depraved mind?

Why have I been going on about random things for so long? What I’ve been meaning to say it that today’s post was initially created for St David’s Day and later inspired by Holi. I would like to say thank you to Mr (St) P (Pete) of Delicious Delicious Delicious for sending me the first prize for his Re-Inventing the Lamington Competition. It was a beautifully intricate, and not to mention enormous Welsh Dragon shaped cookie cutter.

welsh dragon shortbread 4

I wanted to say a big Happy Holi and St David’s Day in the form of shortbread biscuits!

Now I have to admit, some of these guys were more compliant than others. Some just didn’t wanna leave their mama (the cutter herself) and got decapitated as a result. I’m not gonna lie, there were various dragon limbs and body parts all over the place.* It was pretty horrific. Lucky for them, I know how to patch up cookie dough. Unlucky for them that I only know how to do it badly.

welsh dragon shortbread 7

Chillin’… Illin’
welsh dragon shortbread 6
Strike a pose!

Rainbow Strawberry Shortbread Biscuits
(makes around 24 non-huge, non-dragon shaped shortbread biscuits)

220g butter
120g caster sugar
240g plain flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp strawberry extract
A range of rainbow-inspired colours


1. Beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and strawberry extract.

2. Sift in the flour and combine to make a dough. Divide the dough into equal portions and add in the colours one by one. If the dough becomes too soft and warm immediately place in the fridge and proceed when it is cooler and firmer.

3. Wrap the doughs in cling film separately and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

welsh dragon shortbread 1

Anyone for a spot of Play Dough based crafting?

4. Remove from the fridge and take off the cling film. Dust your surface with flour and combine the colours in any way you like. Once you have your rainbow dough, wrap it up again and return to the fridge for 15 minutes.

welsh dragon shortbread 2

5. Remove the dough from the fridge and take off the cling film. Roll it out on a floured surface until it is about 3-4mm thick.

6. Get cutting with your favourite cookie cutters. Or roll into slightly flattened balls for shortbread thumbprint style biscuits.

welsh dragon shortbread thumbprints

7. Place the cut out shapes on a greased, lined baking tray and chill in the fridge for 5 minutes (yeah I know there’s a lot of ‘fridge’ involved, but the butter should remain cool for the shortbread to be light and crumbly). Make holes in the biscuits with a fork and top with a little extra caster sugar if you wish.

8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Centigrade for 8-10 minutes.

9. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack.

welsh dragon shortbread 5

Have a roaring Holi and St David’s Day!

Do dragons roar???

*Note: No actual dragons were harmed in the making of these delicious strawberry shortbread biscuits.

Did you make this?

Follow me on social media to tell me how you liked this recipe + get extra recipes!


39 responses to “St P’s Welsh Dragons say Happy St David’s Day and Happy Holi!”

  1. Trix says:

    If you were any funnier it would be a crime – I am serious. I've heard of holi, but I didn't know the background, just about the awesome colored powders. That would be quite something, I'd love to participate in that someday. And how big are those cookie cutters? They're very cool, but it's a wonder the dough came out at all, a testament to your baking skill I am sure!

  2. Cool Lassi(e) says:

    What can I say? These are so lovely. I am always hesitant to step out of my comfort zone..but you make it look so easy that I really want to give this a shot. Very bright and delectable!

  3. denise @ quickies on the dinner table says:

    Very psychedelic indeed! And almost too pretty to eat. Thanks for the background on Holi! These though, somehow, for some reason, bring Harry Potter to mind; or maybe it's just me 😀

  4. Sharmilee! :) says:

    Lovely colorful shortbread cookies!!!

  5. Bigarade says:

    i want one :$
    not to eat mind…maybe just put it in a box and look at it now and then!

  6. simply.food says:

    Yummy colourful cookies ideal for holi.An explosion of colours -holi style.!!!

  7. Sanjana says:

    Thank you so much for your sweet comments, everyone 🙂
    Trix… the cutter is about 3 1/2 inches tall and 5ish inches wide. Pretty big.
    Denise- I know what you mean about how they remind you of Harry Potter!

  8. Sanjana says:

    Bigarade- Lol! I think that's what I'm gonna do with them too!

    simply.food- Thank you! Glad you think so!

  9. Divina Pe says:

    That is very creative. I think you're more like an artist on this post. Very Impressive and definitely a work of art.

  10. My Experiments with Food says:

    Hey Sanjana, what a lovely write up. During Holika dahan today, my hubby and I were trying to recollect the tale of Prahlad, but were not sure if we had missed any part. Thanks for sharing.
    And your shortbread biscuits are so meant for holi! Have a great day. Happy Holi!

  11. 3 hungry tummies says:

    Such a wonderful post! Happy holi!

  12. Ushnish Ghosh says:

    Dear sanjana
    Came to know from your Blog that holi is around ha ha ..there is no way to know here.
    I liked the way you reminded us of the legend behind Holi. I think thes2 are the main stories behind
    Hats off to you and your efforts on the cookies..so you are one of them " not only I will excel in my studies, I will excel in cooking too"
    Happy holi

  13. Preeti Kashyap says:

    I love the prahalad story and I love your colorful shortbread biscuits! They instantly brightened by mood.

  14. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Wow! Those dragon cookies are amazing! I love the shape and the colors – very pretty and artistic! Thank you for the info about Holi and St David's Day, great to learn about those holidays!

  15. Anjum says:

    Amazing cookies.Brings alive the festive mood.

  16. Mr. P says:

    I LOVE THEM! I know exactly what you mean about the cutter though; she doesn't let go.

    You have inspired me. I forgot that it was St. David's tomorrow (though how, living where I do, that is even possible is beyond me).

    I'm going to make some too. I just made a pie and am not really feeling up to it yet. So they'll be a day or so late. But whatever. 🙂

  17. Chow and Chatter says:

    this is amazing love how you fused the two cultures and great dragons please do a guest post for chow and chatter love ya

    rebeccasubbiah at yahoo dot com

  18. AshKuku says:

    That sure is an avatar combo…. got both the fests to showcase in one delicacy….. AWESOME !!!
    The story is really helpful to spread the incredibility of the INCREDIBLE INDIA!!!!! KUDOS!!!! It is a customized & personalized HOLI TREAT!!!! HAPPY HOLI!!!!!


  19. Ju (The Little Teochew) says:

    Sanjana sweetie, Austin Powers would be proud! Look at them psychedelic colours. Yeah, baby, yeah! Well done!

  20. Anonymous says:

    lOVELY!!! Sanju! I would have loved to make these biscuits with my nursery children if i was still working there..xx but I will still pass on your link to my mates!..thanks huni..xxnimu masixx

  21. Sarah Naveen says:

    Happy Holi dear!!!! Beautiful pics..

  22. artipatel88 says:

    Roooaaarrrr! :p Lovely stories about Holi..I think I learned something new! 😀
    The biscuits look amazing! xxx

  23. Anonymous says:


    Saint Bapu

  24. AlphaAndy says:

    those might be the prettiest cookies I have ever seen!

  25. Tina says:

    Soooo cute and colourful…

  26. Mae says:

    Oh my gosh! You know, I knew you'd come up with an imaginative way to use the Welsh Dragon cutter – and I'm so pleased with the results… this is so so coooool!

  27. Ms. Humble says:

    Holi is so much fun… provided you're not attached to the clothing you're wearing.

    The cookies look so fantastic! Imaginative too! I would of made boring sugar cookies with it, these are way better.

  28. Vegetable Matter says:

    Your recipe would be so much fun for kids. Maybe a cowboy boot or something for us here in Texas?

  29. Jagruti says:

    Hey Sanjana

    Very colourful and delectable biscuits!!

  30. Shelly says:

    Sanjana!!! I've missed all these posts – so much fun catching up on them. Btw I thought of you the other day when I made a Samosa Casserole! My first foray into Indian Cuisine! Was really delish and now I must challenge myself to make Indian food more often!

    Love these dragons…so colorful and so much fun!

  31. ARUNA says:

    Colorful cookies!

  32. Malar Gandhi says:

    Whoo that looks colorful and delectabe…belated holi wishes.

  33. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    Thanks for sharing that story. It's very interesting to learn, and I love all these colors. That dragon cutter is pretty ah-mazing (I'm jealous ;p).

  34. Preety says:

    what a colorful biscuits..they are really a great way to represent this colorful festival

  35. zlamushka says:

    Hey Jay,

    Wow. I have never seen a) this colorful dough and b) dragon shaped cutter. Agree with you, it must have been a nightmare to try to free them 🙂

    My first time here and loving it. The pictres surely speak for themselves. Nice job 🙂

  36. Vaishali Sharma says:

    Don't know how I missed this post! These are most beautiful cookies I have ever seen. They look gorgeous and delicious! I wanna have one right now? Send me some pls 🙂

  37. jeanne says:

    What a treat!!! I promised the kids in the art and culture club that I lead (in Cleveland Ohio) that we would encounter Welsh dragons this week… and I think they will love yours the most. Who wouldn't?

    Belated happy Holi and St. David's Day!


  38. Cindy says:

    I just love the way your colorful cookies look! I have that cutter, now I have to try it myself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *