For vegetarians, these refreshing lentils, accompanied perhaps by a yogurt relish and a bread, Indian or crusty Western, could make an entire meal. For non-vegetarians, meats or fish curries may be added.
Put the lentils and 4-1/4 cups water in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Cover partially, turn heat to low, and simmer very gently for 20 minutes. Add the salt, cayenne, green beans, and cilantro. Stir to mix and bring to a boil again. Cover partially and simmer very gently for another 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the asafetida and cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the shallots. Stir and fry them on medium heat until they turn reddish. Now pour the entire contents of the frying pan into the pan with the lentils. Stir to mix.
Offer lemon wedges at the table.