Taramosalata or Taramasalata? Try 3 Recipes and Find Out Why it’s Healthy.


Today is Kathara Deftera here in Greece, or Clean Monday. Basically it’s the first day of lent for the Greek Orthodox religion. Nutritionally it is important because it marks the beginning of the 40-day fast, which ends on Easter. I’ll talk about the fast later; in fact I’ll be talking about it quite often for the next 40 days. Traditionally Kathara Deftera was characterized as a day of cleansing oneself (spiritually) and preparing for the fasting and the mourning. People ate plain fish roe (taramas), bread, beans (without olive oil) and other vegetables.

Today things are bit different: modern Greeks spend the day flying kites, going to parks or out to the countryside, dancing and of course eating. Instead of just plain fish roe they eat taramosalata (fish roe dip made with olive oil and bread), olives, lagana (bread), shellfish, octopus and halva. The practice of going to the countryside and celebrating is called Koulouma and it’s a relatively recent tradition.

I’m not a huge fan of picnics but my favorite part of Kathara Deftera is the taramosalata. It is a very addictive dip made from fish roe, a lot of olive oil, bread or potatoes. First of all though, I want to set the record straight on the name; it is called Taramosalata NOT Taramasalata. No Greek ever calls it Taramasalata, so you shouldn’t either. Apparently though many people think the right name is the latter. When I did a search on Google, taramasalata (incorrect term) returned 462,000 results, when I searched taramosalata (the correct term) I only got 151,000 results.

So, yes this dip is rich and salty, but the ingredients, as with most Greek foods, are healthy. Fish roe is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein; olive oil as we all know is an excellent source of the good monounsaturated fats and antioxidants and lemon juice also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant.

About 80% of the fat comes from healthy fats too. So really, there is no reason to feel guilty, eat and enjoy but not too often. Remember taramosalata was consumed only a few times a year.

But, if you want a calorie count here it is:
Nutritional Value per 1 tablespoon taramosalata: 44 calories, 1.1 grams protein, 3.2 grams fat, 2.8 grams carbohydrates.

I’ve included a recipe my mom has been using the last few years, although there are more steps to it, it is easier and foolproof and slightly milder than the traditional taramosalata. And for a taramosalata with more fiber but equally delicious click here for taramosalata made with whole wheat bread.

Traditional Taramosalata

Traditional Taramosalata


  • 9 ounces bread (without the crust)*
  • 9 ounces fish roe (carp or cod-avoid the pink colored kind, it should be light beige) or 4-5 ounces for a milder taramosalata
  • 1 ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated onion


  1. Soak the bread in water and then squeeze removing the water.
  2. In a mortar melt the roe and then add the bread. Continue to melt in the mortar until smooth or you can use a food processor for this step.
  3. Add gradually the oil and the lemon.
  4. Serve the taramosalata in a plate.
  5. You may add chopped onion.


*Note: This version is strong. Make it milder by using less fish roe (see below). Also if you use potato you will have much creamier and a bit denser taramosalata.

*Instead of bread you can use mashed potatoes. If you use potatoes boil them with the skin for about 20 minutes, starting with cold water and peel them when they have cooled off.

Mom’s Easier Taramosalata


  • 7 ounces fish roe
  • 4 ½ ounces instant mashed potato (dry potato flakes)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1 dry onion
  • Juice from 1 lemon

1. Boil the water and the potato flakes, mix. This mixture will be thick. Let it cool for about 20-30 minutes

2. In a food processor add 1 dry onion with ½ cup of olive oil. Process for a minute, but do not over mix, it should not be smooth.

3. Add to the potato mixture once cool, the onion and fish roe. With a hand mixer, beat until smooth.

4. Add the rest of the oil gradually while mixing.

5. Once smooth, add the lemon juice and continue to mix.

6. Add some vinegar for taste.

7. Add the dill to the mixture and mix with a spoon.

Photo by Stu Spivack for flickr

16 comments for “Taramosalata or Taramasalata? Try 3 Recipes and Find Out Why it’s Healthy.

  1. Alin
    November 2, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Why should pink roe be avoided?

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      November 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Hello Alin,
      Bright pink roe is usually of lower quality and the color is due to artificial dyes.

  2. Georgia
    February 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Hi. I believe the word TARAMOSALATA is a composite word in Greek, and this is its correct use. This is because Taramas is the adjective describing the salad rather than the noun, hence why the last syllable changes from -ma in the noun, to -mo in the composite word. i.e. this is a salad ‘made of’ tarama.

    However as the English language does not have the capacity to allow such composite words to come in from other languages, it uses the noun as an adjective, without any change to the spelling of the word, hence why TARAMASALATA is extensively used in English-speaking countries.

    For a Greek or anyone fluent in Greek it does ‘sound’ strange, hence why many mainland Greeks tend to fondly smile at English-speaking foreigners who use this version.

    Delicious a food though, no matter what the word is!

  3. Michael Martin
    April 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE TARAMASALATA . Haven’t had any for like years and years.
    My piano professor was a greek cypriot and he introduced me to it

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      April 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Yes, it so addictive!

  4. Sheila
    November 15, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Years ago I had my first taramasolata in a Greek restaurant and I’ve tried for years to make it the same.
    I can never get it to taste the same. Which is the best roe to get to give a good strong flavour?

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      November 18, 2014 at 5:41 am

      As I mention the carp roe is the one traditionally used.That will give you the taste you are looking for. Also you need to use enough of it.

      • Anonymous
        February 21, 2015 at 9:44 pm

        Where can you buy carp roe.

        • Elena Paravantes RD
          February 23, 2015 at 8:53 am

          You can find it in Greek, Italian and Middle eastern grocery stores and some whole food stores too.

  5. Sophia
    February 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Or just visit your local middle eastern market and buy the Krinos brand. It is as good as Greek homemade.

  6. roberta gonzalez
    October 26, 2015 at 2:39 am

    I would be so grateful to know if the roe has to be smoked, salted, marinated or cooked in some way prior to using it in the taramasalata. I bought some pollack roe – fresh frozen and have used caviar before. So I wonder if using the raw eggs is good.

    Thank you.

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      October 26, 2015 at 6:13 am

      Hi Roberta, The “tarama” which is what we call this fish roe is made by drying the eggs and the being salted. So yes it is salted when you buy it and dried.

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