Beef Rendang and Coconut Butternut Squash

Julia Roberts is hands down one of my favorite actresses. She’s so natural. She looks natural, she acts natural; I feel like if I knew her in real life we would get along wonderfully. I love watching movies with Julia in them because she adapts to the parts she plays so well. She is absolutely convincing.

For Food ‘n Flix this month we watched the movie Eat Pray Love – hosted by me!

I actually read the book Eat Pray Love before I saw the movie. I loved the book. I was drooling through Italy, I was reminiscent through India (because I went there once and I missed it,) and I felt peaceful through Indonesia. When I found out that a movie was coming out of the book, I was actually disappointed. So much of the time the movie versions of books just don’t quite capture it. But when I found out that Julia Roberts was starring, playing Elizabeth Gilbert, I knew I had to see the movie. I’m really glad that I did see it, because the book truly was captured in the movie. I probably drooled more, felt more reminiscent, and felt more at peace watching the movie than I did reading the book. This is rare. Usually the movie just can’t compare. But in this case, seeing the foods, the sights, and the people really added that element that my mind wasn’t able to fill in when I was reading the book.

The majority of the food in this movie is seen in Italy. I intended at first to make Italian food, because I was literally slobbering while I was watching the movie. With all the pictures of Italian food, I just wanted it all in my belly, from gelato to pizza to spaghetti. But then when it got to India, my mind changed. Indian food is actually one of my favorite cuisines, so it only made sense to make some curry and naan. But then when I got to Indonesia I realized I actually needed to make something that I think Elizabeth Gilbert would have eaten in Indonesia, in the the part of the movie where she really finds herself. It is in Indonesia that Elizabeth is able to fit all the pieces of herself together, to find what makes her happy. Though food wasn’t a huge component of these scenes, it seemed fitting to make a dish representing this part of the movie.

I have no idea what Indonesian food is. I did search the internet a little bit for some information and found that rendang is a ceremonial dish used to honor  guests that originated in Indonesia. Perhaps when Elizabeth visited Ketut he had an honorary dinner for her, with rendang as a dish. I served the rendang with a coconut butternut squash. The flavors melded together beautifully.

Beef Rendang

1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup ginger, peeled and sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 anaheim pepper, chopped
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
2 lemongrass stalks, crushed
2 lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked rice


1. Place the first 9 ingredients (through the pepper) into a food processor. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk and process until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

2. Place 3 tbsp coconut milk and the flaked coconut in the food processor. Pulse until a thick paste is formed. Set aside.

3. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, lemon juice, sugar, lemongrass, chuck roast, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in the flaked coconut mixture and cook for 10 more minutes.

4. Serve the rendang over cooked rice.

* serves 6
* 621 calories per serving (this includes the rice)

Coconut Butternut Squash

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sriacha


1. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and ginger. Saute for about a minute, until fragrant.

2. Add the squash, coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and sriacha. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.

3. Remove the squash from the pan and reduce the liquid, until it creates a thick syrup. Pour the liquid over the squash.

* serves 4
* 99 calories per serving

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Food n’ Flix: Eat Pray Love ROUNDUP | lawstudentscookbook

  2. Even though I didn’t like the movie as much as the book, it had nothing to do with Julia Roberts’ acting. She was definitely convincing in her role. I’ve never had Indonesian food either – thanks for introducing me to a new dish!

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