Bulgarian Fish Roe Appetizer - Tarama

Bulgarian / Greek taramosalata

Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Refrigerate: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
113 Calories
11g Fat
1g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 113
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 70mg 23%
Sodium 43mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 67mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tarama (tah-RAH-mah) is a popular no-cook/no-bake appetizer spread made with fish roe, olive oil, and lemon juice, common to Greece, where it is known as taramosalata, and to Bulgaria, among other countries.

It's not surprising tarama would appear on a Bulgarian meze (an appetizer feast before the main meal) because the Turkish/Greek influence on Bulgarian cuisine reigns supreme. Tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, roasted eggplant and zucchini, bean salads, cheese, ham, kebabche sausages, similar to Croatian/Serbian cevapcici, and kyufte (a round, flattened version of kebabche like a Middle Eastern kefti kebab) would all be represented.

Bulgarian pasterna (dried beef often combined with paprika), also appears on appetizer trays along with persut (a Dalmatian dark smoked ham not unlike Italian prosciutto), yogurt, pickled cucumbers, vegetables, and tarama.

Tarama is an affordable appetizer because it's made with carp roe or cod roe instead of pricey sturgeon roe, and it's so easy to prepare. There are only four ingredients, and it can be made entirely in a food processor. It is usually served with toasted bread and garnished with cured black olives, parsley or celery leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.


  • 8 tablespoons roe, carp roe or cod roe, smoked or unsmoked

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated onion

  • Paprika, to taste

  • Olives, for garnish

  • Parsley leaves, or celery leaves, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2.  In the bowl of a food processor (or using an immersion blender), puree 8 tablespoons smoked or unsmoked carp roe or cod roe. Add lemon juice and mix. Slowly pour the olive oil through the food chute until it is well incorporated. Add the onion and give a final pulse. If tarama is too thick, add water a little at a time to give an easily spreadable consistency.

  3. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl and refrigerate. When ready to serve, drizzle the tarama with a little olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and garnish with a few olives and parsley or celery leaves. Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: If you would like to experience the cuisine of Bulgaria but don't have an authentic restaurant nearby or finances make it prohibitive, take a virtual tour of a typical Bulgarian meal and try making the recipes at home.