We Maldivians just love to bake. The mouth-watering array of sweet and savoury treats from every corner of the globe – displayed in our living rooms courtesy of the many food channels – have inspired us to try our hand in imitating renowned international chefs. So when we head to our kitchen before that inspiration wanes, there is nothing more annoying than missing an ingredient.

Let’s talk about buttermilk. More precisely, let’s bemoan how buttermilk is smack in the middle of a ‘missing poster’ instead of in your fridge. As every baker would tell you, buttermilk is an important partner to many delicious baked goods. The acidic milk mixed with baking soda helps baked treats remain light and tender. The trick is simply scientific: when baking soda is combined with buttermilk’s lactic acids, the acid nullifies the rather metallic taste of sodium carbonate.

Some of us make the rookie mistake of using plain milk in the place of buttermilk, which can ruin your baked goods and dampen your future attempts at baking.

Though there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of baking, only to realise that you are out of buttermilk, there are simple solutions to this. Our team is always on the lookout for the best tips out there, and in this issue, we are sharing some easy substitutes recommended by Joe Wilson from

Milk and lemon or vinegar

Take a 1 cup measuring cup. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and top it with milk (skim, low fat or whole milk would do). Stir well and let sit for around 2 minutes. By then, you would see the milk curdle and become acidic.

Milk and yogurt

Stir ¼ cup milk into 3/4 cup plain yoghurt. The end result will be an easy buttermilk substitute.

Milk and cream of tartar

Stir in 1 cup of milk and 1 and 3/4 teaspoons of cream of tartar. To prevent the mixture from getting lumpy, mix the cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of milk first. To the new mixture, slowly add the remaining portion of the milk. Cream of tartar is an acid and will simulate the acidic milieu of buttermilk.

Soy milk and yoghurt (with a splash of vinegar)

Stir a 1/4 cup soy milk into 3/4 cup soy yoghurt. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar to the mixture and stir well.  Almond milk and yoghurt can also be substituted for the soy milk products.