Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place garlic cloves on a baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until they begin to turn golden brown. Remove and let cool. Squeeze the cloves to press out the roasted garlic.
Combine the garlic, beans, lemon juice, and cumin in a food processor and puree until creamy. With motor running, slowly add the olive oil. Process to a smooth, thick puree. Add the fresh herb and pulse to leave some whole bits. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the shallots.
*To toast spices: Place spices in a dry saute pan over medium heat. Toast, while shaking the pan to avoid overheating in 1 spot. Remove from the heat when the spices have become aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. If the spices start to smoke, immediately dump them out of the pan onto a cool surface to halt the cooking. If there is any burned smell, you should discard them and start over.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a small wok or heavy-bottomed saucepan to 360 degrees. Add the shallots and fry, turning frequently, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oil with a strainer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. If made ahead, cool and store in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Yield: about 1 1/4 cups
Recipe courtesy of Nicole Aloni