Shriew latud is a type of yam variety that has grown and been treasured by the Khasi community of Meghalaya in northeastern India for many years. The yam has a white colored flesh and a dark brown skin. Unlike many other yams grown in the area, this yam does not tend to cause any itchiness the throat when cooked and eaten. Interestingly, the outside of this yam has lines on it that give it the appearance of having been scratched by the birds.
The appearance of this yam is connected with a story. In the past there was a bird called sim latud, and this bird would often eat this particular yam and she would scratch under the yam peel. Having seen bird’s attempt to grab and carry off this yam, the people of the village began to believe that this yam was more tasty that the other yams. Consequently, they sought out the wild yams from the forest for domestication, so that they too could enjoy its taste. For this reason, the yam is named after the bird, and called shriew latud locally.
Shriew latud is grown in the dry lands or found in the forest near the village of Thadnongiaw and other parts of the Khasi Region. However, production is quite low, with individual plants producing under two kilograms of yams. Because it is not very productive, there has been a decline in people cultivating this variety. In the past, it could be found on the local market, but was not typically sold; instead it was usually traded for an equal amount of locally produced rice. It is still eaten by some families that continue to grow it, but production has dropped dramatically. Shriew latud may be lost from the local culinary culture if future generations to not continue to value this variety.