Wash the dried chickpeas thoroughly with water. Soak the chickpeas
in cold water for 24 hours.
Wash the beets thoroughly and boil them for 30 minutes or until
tender. Drain and set aside.
Place the chickpeas in a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil.
To boiling water add baking soda. Stir to prevent water from
overflowing. Reduce heat to medium. Cook chickpeas for 20 minutes.
When the chickpeas are tender, drain and set aside to cool. When
chickpeas reach room temperature, blend until very smooth.
As the chickpeas cook, mix tahini with 1-1/2 cups of water in
a separate bowl. Stir well. Add lemon juice to the tahini and keep
stirring, then add salt.
Peel the beets and blend them with the chickpeas. Finely crush
the garlic and add it to the blended chickpeas. Add the tahini sauce
to the chickpeas and stir well.
Once everything is well blended, serve the hummus with a pinch
of paprika and cumin. Adding olive oil at the end will enhance the
flavor even more.
(Recipe from Ali and Afaf Kalaban)
Ali Kalaban, a mechanical engineer
turned Middle Eastern rug and art
importer turned local Lebanese food
purveyor, likes to describe his journey
from Beirut, Lebanon, to Lewisburg
as a destiny 30 years in the making.
He first came to the United States
in the 1980s for graduate school, but
was summoned home when his father
fell ill. It wasn’t until last year that another important person — his young
grandson — lured him back.
Kalaban explains with a smile that
helping daughter Amal Kalaban,
professor of electrical & computer
engineering, care for her baby was the
spark that propelled him and wife Afaf
to venture from Lebanon to Lewisburg. Having a son who teaches at Villanova University and a daughter who
lives in Washington, D.C., added to the
appeal for this family of engineers.
But while caring for their grand-
child is fulfilling, the Kalabans, used
to a bustling international city, sought
another outlet for their abundant
energy. Afaf says, “I have always
enjoyed cooking for children, friends
and for parties, but I never had my
own restaurant or sold my food.”
Then son-in-law David Heayn pro-
posed an intriguing idea. How about
renting a space in the Wednesday
Farmers Market on Fairground Road?
When Heayn contacted the market’s
manager, he discovered a counter
space was up for rent.
And so Fafa’s Kitchen came to
find itself wedged between Troutman
Meats and the Country Cupboard
along the south wall of the market.
There, customers bored by the usual
cheeseburgers and soft pretzels can
sample the Kalabans’ tabbouleh,
kibbe, hummus, grape leaves, falafel
and baba ghanoush, or purchase
Lebanese spices, tahini and olive oil.
Every Wednesday the couple wakes
up at 3 or 4 a.m. to begin prepping
the food. They arrive at the market at
8 a.m. to fry the falafel and assemble
the other dishes. Customers start
flowing in by 9 a.m. to find the Kalabans waiting with broad smiles and a
desire to chat.
Afaf says, “I like to connect with
the people. The American people like
to try new things. They ask us about
our food and tell me it is very, very
delicious.” She believes she has repeat
customers because “the food is really
Afaf does make some concessions
to American tastes, reducing the
amount of garlic, black pepper and
cumin she uses in some dishes. “But
I keep the spirit of Lebanese tabbou-
leh,” she says.
Like Afaf, Ali enjoys the cross-
cultural opportunities the business
provides them. “People come in and say,
‘What is falafel?’ We are introducing
people to new things — it is not just
a business,” he says. “I can say, ‘Today
10 people learned about tabbouleh.’
People ask me, ‘How should I use olive
oil?’ My response is, ‘Always.’ Our food
is good and healthy.”
The Kalabans are eager to expand
their business, since the Farmers
Market is open only once a week. The
countertop they rent also is too small
to allow them to produce much food.
Ultimately, they would like to own a
Middle Eastern grocery and deli in
And while Bucknell brought them to
central Pennsylvania to assist their professor daughter, the University is also
the key to their successful adjustment
as immigrants and businesspeople.
“Bucknell is behind everything here,”
says Ali. “It is what keeps the town busy.
It is not just the mind, but the heart of
the town.” — Sherri Kimmel
1/4 pound dried chickpeas
3/4 cups tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic
1 medium beet
LEWISBURG WITH A LEBANESE GARNISH